A monthly bulletin of matters of interest to the Sydney Bushwalkers, C/- Ingersoll Hall, 256 Crown St., Sydney. Box No. 4476 G.P.O. Sydney.
|Editor||Dot Butler, Boundary Road, Wahroongs (JW2208)|
|Business Manager||Jack Gentle|
|Sales & Subs.||Jess Martin|
|Typed by||Dot Butler|
|At our October Meeting||A.C.||2|
|The Caloola Club - Kosciusko State Park tour||2|
|Blizzards, and How||Judy W.2.||3|
|Federation Report - October||Allen A. Strom||5|
|Gone to Earth||Keith Renwick||8|
|Winter Holiday in Tasmania||Dot Butler||10|
|Letter from Snow in Tasmania||Dave Brown||16|
|The Sanitarium Health Food Shop||3|
|Hattswell's Taxi & Tourist Service||5|
|Leica Photo Service||7|
|Siedleckyls Taxi & Tourist Service||9|
|Paddy's Advt. “Good Gracious, here comes Christmas”||20|
Something different in the way of a week-end walk is programmed for the 26/27th November, when Brian Harvey will steer the party down the beautiful Cowan Creek by launch from Bobbin Head. Bring your swimming togs and enjoy the shark-infested waters of the Hawkesbury River. The fishing authority has plotted the spots, and there will be a pre-dawn Sunday excursion for those who like fish for breakfast. No smelly bait permitted on board. Visit the Black-Hand Cave and cruise along the estuaries! Definitely no walking! No hob-nailed boots please. Dunlopillo cushions handy for hard seats, and “Mae Wests” in case of foundering.
Survivors of party will be landed at Bobbin Head.
Tickets to Turramurra, 12.48 electric train. Bus to Bobbin Head. Please let leader know immediately if you contemplate going. 10/- cash deposit required by Wednesday, 23rd November. Anticipated boat fare, 15/-.
Brian Harvey - JW1462. Business BU1611.
The President was in the Chair, and there were about 40 members present when the meeting opened shortly after 8 p.m.
Correspondence brought an offer from Paddy Pallin to make his advertising casement at Town Hall station available to the Club for a photographic display, if we would like to use it. Brian Harvey - moved that, in view of our desire for new members, we should accept Paddy's kind offer with thanks, and the motion was carried unanimously.
Also in correspondence was a letter from J.A. Picone of Hobart who is contemplating a walking trip to Federation Peak from about Dec. 24th to Jan. 7th. He wants to have an air drop in the Eastern Arthur Range and hopes to be able to combine with a party going over the same route.
The Social Secretary reported that the Federation Ball was a success socially, if not financially. Some 46 S.B.W. members were present. Brian Harvey pointed out at the conclusion of the Social Secretary's Report that it was incomplete because no reference had been made to the evening's slides presented by herself and Jean Aird, which, together with Fred Pollack's slides of Castle Rock, had provided two very enjoyable evening's entertainment. But, he continued, it was regrettable that during these evenings, and at meetings, there was so much noise, in particular the crash of tables at the back, and chatter. The trouble, he thought, derived from the fact that the room was not prepared for entertainments and meetings. He therefore moved that we appoint two room stewards, for a term of one month, at each monthly meeting, their tasks to be defined by Committee. The motion was seconded by Jack Gentle. The Social Secretary (Heather Joyce) said that she felt that the arrangement of the room was partly her responsibility, but one of the main difficulties was that the caretaker was against the moving of furniture. The trouble was that it was not always replaced just as the caretaker wanted it. We would therefore have to be careful about replacing it if the motion was carried. An amendment moved by a former room-steward's understudy of long standing, to the effect that a show of hands should be called for to see how many would undertake the job, was defeated, and the motion was carried. Geof Wagg and Frank Barr are the first incumbents of the office.
In general business Frank Rigby drew attention to the prevalence of the dangerous practice of parties separating on walks. He predicted that, if it continued, one of our parties would get into bad trouble, perhaps even worse than the Holland episode. Not only did parties wander off on their own, but sometimes leaders “bashed off” at a great rate, leaving the rest to catch up. Those behind, coming to a junction, might be completely bamboozled. At other times some went off to blaze a new trail without bothering to tell the leader where they were going. The importance of parties keeping together should be stressed at instructional walks, and leaders should try to keep their party together. In this way those on a walk would enter into its spirit, in accord with one of the principal objects of the club.
It is proposed to visit the Koscuisko State Park during the Christmas - New Year period, 1955/56. We are attempting to cover a wide area of the Park, extending from the southern to the northern limits, in order that we may better know the nature of the Park and be better able to report upon it, both in words and pictures.
It is not yet clear whether we can include detailed study of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme; this will depend upon the nature of the party and the allocations of times.
The Kosciusko State Park is of extreme importance: It is the largest in New South Wales and Australia - 1 1/2 million acres; it is the only Park in New South Wales which has permanence it was created by an Act of Parliament; it covers the highest land in Australia and nearly all the Alpine Country in New South Wales; it is the scene of the mighty S.M.A. Undertaking and we would do well to learn at first hand, something of the effect of the Undertaking on the Parklands; it covers a wide area of Snow Lease Country… there are moves to cancel all Snow Leases for grazing.
Dated: from December 25th to January 13th, approximately.
Maps: See sketch map overleaf. Consider the Snow Leases Maps (obtainable from Paddy Pallin, C.E.N.E.F., 201 Castlereagh Street - two sheets, 3/6d each.) Also Broadbents “North Eastern Victoria”. There is a Kosciusko Ord. Map available.
Deatils: Two parties .. Walking and Motor, combined on some occasions. By Motor to Cooma, Jindabyne, Ingebirah, Jacob's River and then as far as possible towards The Pilot Tin Mines. Walking Party to Mt Kosciusko. Motor Party return to Jindabyne then Mt Kosciusko, Walking Party via Main Range to Jagungal to meet Motor Party nearby. Walking Party to Pretty Plain. Combined Party to Kiandra and Rule's Point; then northward as far as possible. Walking Party to Brindabella rendezvous with Motor Party.
Cost for travel: £6/10/-. Deposit by December 10th, £3/-/-. Preference to Members of Club until November 5th.
Bookings: Mrs A.W. Dingeldei, 42 Byron Street, Croydon. UA 2983.
Further Details: Allen A. Strom, 6 Coopernook Av Gymea Bay, WE 2528
- Judy W.2
Kosciusko 1955 was totally different from Kosciusko 1954. For one thing we were staying in a proper hut, and for another there was plenty of snow.
We left Sydney on the Friday night, bound for Cooma, on the Kosciusko Express. What a misnomer. It went so slowly and stopped so many times at so many places that we could have walked quicker. Eventually we got to Cooma, found our bus, and with a sigh of relief got aboard. The bus started and off we went, or so we thought. Into the township and the bus stopped and we got out for a breakfast everyone but us wanted. The bus eventually came back, but it wasn't the same one. Some of our luggage had disappeared and where it was we hadn't a clue. To start with we had had our packs and the kero. tin of food on our bus, while our skiis, etc., were on the other one. Now there were no packs and no kero. tin and we were imagining a cold and hungry stay at Kosciusko.
At the Hotel we lined up for our boots, only to be told that all the Chalet types had to get their stuff first. As some of them were on the second bus we had to wait and hope. Meanwhile some of our luggage had gone up to Smiggin's in the first bus and we caught a glimpse of our packs as they were dumped in a heap with the luggage from the second bus. Boots we eventually got, and then we too were off to Smiggin's in a third bus.
Afore said Smiggin's was a scene of luggage, luggage and more luggage with people trying to find it. Us too. We found our packs (big sigh) and the kero. tin (another big sigh) and my skiis, but Bab's skiis had disappeared. She got them back three days later from the Chalet, and even then had to go and get them. After a wait of 2 hours we rode the snowmobile up to the CSIRO hut, and if anyone has ever had a ride in one of these “things” they will understand why I said “rode”.
We arrived in a blizzard and left in the rain, and from that you can deduce what the weather was like. The first week we got 1 1/2 days skiing, and the second week wasn't much better. The comfort of the hut, however, made up for any lack of skiing. It is a nice warm hut with plenty of cooking appliances (except when 12 people tried to cook tea at once), and best of all we had innerspring mattresses to sleep on. No more boots and waterbuckets freezing to the floor; no more cooking on one primus and having tea from 5.30 to 9.0.
The bods we were staying with were, I an glad to say, just as mad as we are. There was Hank who loved to sing, but unfortunately sang all songs to the same tune, and Phillip who had a habit of trying to laugh with his mouth full. This proved disasterous when he tried it with a mouthful of custard; from then on we came to the table in groundsheets. Then there were Margo and Judy W.1, who insisted of singing “Happy, Happy Africa” 222,222 times per day, and Betty who loved making date puddings, Jean who interminably made up powdered milk, and Bill-Stan who couldn't make out why Babs and I insisted on eating powdered potato. As well there was Arthur, who was violently ill after having eaten some banana custard which Babs made. I might mention that Babs and I had some too and were, and still are, in the best of health. Monica??!!!
I would like to pass on some handy advice to anyone thinking of going skiing this or any other year:-
1. Have, as far as possible, all your own gear.
2. Get a long piece of rope and tie all your gear together, then tie the rope around your waist, and never, never untie it till you get to your destination.
This walk has been designed to cover some of the best vantage points in the Illawarra while avoiding roads as far as possible. It is advisable to book on the 5.50 train, as otherwise seats are unlikely and admission to the train could be refused. Transport will be arranged to Jamberoo, and one week's notice is desirable. There will be over 3,000 ft of climbing and several miles of rough creek bed, including some small rock climbs. The object of this is to see some unspoiled stretches of rain forest. Wildflowers should still be good on the tops. If the weather is good there will be several swims in rock pools, and a spell in the surf before catching the train.
- Alex Colley.
Mr.Norman Allen has accepted the post of Secty. to Search & Rescue.
It was reported that Messrs. Allen and Cottier had attended a meeting on the Blue Mountains when Bushfire Fighting was discussed. All volunteer brigades on the Mountains have been disbanded following the assumption of responsibility by the Board of Fire Commissioners. As there is considerable concern about the matter, Mr. Allen will arrange, an interview with Mr. H.E. Messer, Chairman, Bushfires Committee, and report back to Federation.
A Bushfire Fighting Practice will be held on Sunday, Nov.6th, in the Waterfall-Heathcote area. Bushwalkers are asked to turn up in force in order to demonstrate our interest in the prevention of bushfires. Paul Barnes (UB2651) can supply further details.
Norman Allen is anxious to finalise the list of volunteers for the Bushfire Fighting Squad for Crown Reserves in the Shire of Sutherland. Already emergencies have arisen. Action on the letter sent out recently is urgently required.
The Bushwalkers' Ball held at the Rainbow Room, Hotel Australia on Oct. 5th, was declared a great success. Although there was only a small profit, the function will prove its worth by bringing a better spirit of co-operation amongst the Clubs. The Committee has already booked the Rainbow Room for the 1956 Ball to be held on Sat., Oct.6th.
Barrington Tops: Further correspondence has been received on the proposal for a National Park in this area. This includes a nap of a new proposal from the Northern Park and Playgrounds Movement showing a plan very close to that supplied by the Federation.
Messrs. Moppett and Strom had a conference with Messrs. B.U.Byles and A. Richards of the Forestry Commission regarding control of Barrington and National Parks in general. It now seems possible that the Forestry Commission may be of assistance in securing the passage of a National Parks Act through the State Legislature.
Conference of Conservation Bodies: At the Meeting held on July 2nd the full agenda was not completed. In addition certain matters were passed over to a special committee for report. A follow-up conference will be held Nov. 5th. Messrs. Peach & Moppett will again represent Fed.
Wombeyan Caves: Following receipt of a letter from the Speleological Society regarding mining of Marble on the Wombeyan Caves Reserve, the area was visited and the proposed site for the quarry inspected. The Tourist Bureau is opposing the granting of a licence. Federation will support this protest, and also seek further information regarding knowledge of the distribution of the caves through the reserve.
The Department of Mines is coming under fire from Conservation bodies also, in these places…
1. Bungonia Gorge…we have not yet succeeded in preventing further mining of limestone closer to the Gorge.
2. Bouddi Natural Park… The Trust of the Park is still fighting for the courtesy of a note from the Dept. asking for consultation on the mining of rutile at Kilcare Beach.
3. Muogamarra Sanctuary…The Federation will support a protest against a proposal to prospect for Kaolin (China Clay)in the Reserve.
No further news has so far been received regarding a proposal to establish a Rifle Range on the “Waratah Patch” which is part of a reserve and adjoins the Warrah Sanctuary (near Pearl Beach).
The Rosso is an animal with appetite collosso,
Of height and size monstrosso and energy preposso.
He likes to spend his party time consuming sizzled sauso,
And joining others of his kind in getting rather wasso.
We want to wish him all the best for all the years that follo;
In health and wealth and happiness may he always wallo.
May he travel right around the globe like an enterprising swallo,
And never, never may his food repesite be hollo.
(Pat and Ian).
Rosso sits moodily mumbling his beard and brooding over his lost youth. And why? Because having just turned 21 he has had to put away childish things. His final gesture was a Sausage Sizzle which occupied the week-end of 8th-9th October. Highlights of the party were:
So many vehicles parked outside as to suggest a Lord Mayor's reception.
Ross almost swooning with pleasure at the sight of his presents.
Vigorous performance of “Stripping the Willow” with vocal accompaniment.
Colin the Sausage Saver hurling sausages out of an area of flame - straight into the fire.
The tables of dreamy delicious savories prepared by Ross's mother.
Patient parents organising everyone's comfort till they finally retired to roost at 3 a.m.
Garth's claim to sleep on THE ONLY MATTRESS all night not being disputed.
Corpses a-plenty littering the landscape next a.m.
A querulous Snow awaking from his snooze under the clothes hoist at 9 a.m and calling on Hughie to turn out the light, and Hughie promptly obliging.
Geoffo reading “The 13 Clocks” in his own inimitable style to an appreciative though rather wasso* audience. (* = the worse for wassa)
The final freeze in the Cronulla surf and the mob getting dressed under a ground-sheet. (Tut tut Betty; come back here with Peter's pants!)
- Keith Renwick.
With a lurch we were off at last heading south on the Melbourne Express. The time was 7,30 p.m. on Thursday, 18th August, and our destination was Hobart where we were to join the Hobart Walking Club and Tasmanian Caverneering Club's trip to Hastings Caves for Aug. 20-21. En route were Dot Butler, Garth Coulter and Keith Renwick, and the trip was far from uneventful. First of all, in trying to pull a bag down from the luggage rack I almost stabbed a New Australian girl opposite with an ice axe. Then the young mother with two small children opposite Dot and Garth gave a frightened gasp; a lurch of the train was about to deposit Garth's enormous pack on to them. The climax came at Albury when we were getting out of the train when a further stabbing incident was attempted. “Heavens!” commented Dot to the poor girl, “Foiled again! That's three tries, and we've missed you every time!” “Eet ees all right,” the victim replied, “I'm getting out here.”
Garth and I slept in the corridor during the night. “Youse guys are takin' a bituva risk, aintcha?” said “Happy” the guard in his best Old English. “A guy got his skull kicked in only last week.”
After a flying (or running) tour of Melbourne we flew to Hobart, there to be met by Fay Peterson, Mr. Peterson and Melva Stocks. A hectic night of sorting food and gear, eating scollops, slide showing, having baths and talking. We eventually ended in deep sleep, so deep I still wonder what that alarm clock sounded like. However, without too much of a rush we were ready in good time to catch the special bus from Franklin Square to Hastings caves, together with 30 other bods.
The weather was cloudy and overcast, but the occasional views of snow-capped peaks like Picton and the Hartz Mts. thrilled us no end. Eventually the bus stopped for a few minutes and we got out to stretch our legs. Dot and Garth took this a stage further and suggested a run down the road, consequently the bus was picking up odd groups of runners for the next mile or so, with Dot and Garth leading the field. Another stop at Dover Hotel, and we finally arrived at the Forestry hut just past the Chalet and Thermal pool soon after 11 a.m. We chose the hut, some camped out, and some chose the table tennis room of the Chalet. We lunched, than about 1.30 started up the road towards the Caves. At a bridge just before the end of the road we turned off to the right, and in the rain climbed up through the wet rain forest and tree ferns for a few hundred feet to the Wolf Hole. This is quite a hole, about 100 ft. deep, mostly vertical except for the funnel-shaped mouth for about 20 or 30 ft. Heavily covered with vegetation, it makes you wonder how many more undiscovered caves there must be in the area. It has been descended a few times, but is still largely unexplored. Nearby is the Cub Hole, a rabbit sized burrow opened out by the Caverneers, which looks as though it might link up with the Wolf Hole.
Back down the track a bit and off a few hundred yards to the side we came to the main interest of the afternoon, the King George Caves. A small unimposing hole in the ground leads down a wire ladder to a mudslide and a passageway. This eventually leads to the main chamber about 20 ft. high by 20 ft. wide with a large red and white tooth-like stalactite hanging from the centre. Through this runs a small creek. There were some nice formations off in side grottos and even Dot was duly impressed - less mud and no blowflies like Bungonia. Lots of photos were taken of all, sorts of odd things. Passages were explored and wetas and spiders collected, Lots of people think caves are dead, but far from it. First of all we found wetas - brown grasshopper-like creatures which abound in some sections of caves. They live off small flies and insects which wander in, and off the vegetation which grows round the entrance. Hunting wetas is quite a sport as they jump considerable distances and if you're not quick you can chase them quite a way, The spider we found on a stalagmite; it was quite as large as the huntsman spiders round Sydney. Nearby was a hole in the mud which could have been its home. We finally enticed him into a kodachrome tin. While we concentrated on photos and collecting insects, some others of the party did a bit of exploring through a long muddy squeezeway.
We left about 4 or 5 p.m. and walked back to camp for tea. Snow-capped Adams Peak, under which the caves are situated, was now clothed in mist and the rain had set in, but undaunted Dot, Garth, and some of the others went for a swim in the thermal pool. Then after tea we had a good fire and sing-song till bed time.
Next morning dawned dull and cloudy, but fined up later when Dot and Garth, who went for a walk to see some of the countryside, reached the coast. The views of the mountains were terrific, and they both raved about the crystal clear Lune river. They went for a swim in the South Polar Sea and then had the nerve to say it was warm. The rest of us went up to the Newdegate or tourist cave which was the start of our trip to-day. To enable some to get ahead and start operations with the wire ladder, a group of us went through the tourist section of the cave which is indeed very well got up and conducted. You are even allowed to take photos. By this time the operations had got underway with the ladder.
Leaving the tourist track at its lowest part you climb down a bit of a drop, cross a mudslide and come to a small squeezeway or passage. This is the beginning of the 75 ft. tunnel which was originally blocked solid with sticky, slimy mud, but by dint of three years' hard work by the Tas. Caverneering Club it has been dug out large enough to crawl through. It is not straight either, twisting and turning, up and down. This crawl eventually emerges into the Binney Cave, named after the Governor of Tasmania who, at the age of 70 odd, came in with the Caverneers to inspect the new find. A medium sized cavern, it has a big sloping mud pile with an oven at the top and a pool of water at the bottom. Great numbers of stalactites and mysteries hang from the walls and roof, and a lot of time was spent photographing them. Another small squeezeway, in which we ate lunch, and we were perched on the drop into the Mystery Chamber - one of the most interesting yet found. Getting 25 bods 60 ft. down the wire ladder of course took time, but we eventually made it, and what a sight! The roof hung with myriads of mysteries of all conceivable fantastic shapes and directions. One - really a classic - hangs like a straw for about 4 ft., then half-way along it shoots off on a horizontal plane for 6“, and still in a horizontal plane it make another 90 degree turn for a further few inches, then it drops vertically again. Many were like fish-hooks, and others like boomerangs lying more or less parallel to the roof. We spent about three-quarters of an hour here looking and photographing, then reluctantly came back up the ladder through the Binney Cave and the squeezeway to the tourist section. What a sight we must have looked in odd clothes, absolutely covered in mud from head to foot! Sure enough we ran into some tourists who stood aghast. One chap, who was unfortunately one of the last out thus missing the tourist party, was all jacked up to appear out of the squeezeway and sort of wander up to them and in a very timid voice say, “Excuse me, ah but could you please tell me the date?” To which they should reply, the 21st. “Oh thank you,” replies the caverneer, “We thought it was the 23rd.” Upon which he would disappear back down the squeezeway.
While we waited for the last of the bods to appear from the cave and for the bus to arrive to pick us up we had a snack to eat at the end of the road, borralooloo sandwich being by far the favourite. Yum yum. (Borralooloo sandwich - goanna between two pieces of bark.) The bus came in a flurry of mud - it had snowed while we were down under - and at last we were off, picking up our waiting packs on the way through, and so back to Hobart where we prepared for the next leg of our trip, after an extremely pleasant and interesting week-end, with thanks to the Hobart Walking Club and Hobart Caverneering Club.
The Children's Xmas Treat will be held this year on 4th December, at Davidson Park, St Ives. Would all those intending to go please ring Jenny Madden (WL5317) to let her know how many children you are taking, and whether you need, or could give transport to others, from Pymble station.
- Dot Butler
Keith had organised the trip, and in the Club those who weren't able to go were, as is their custom, giving their opinion on what the outcome might be.. …. You'll freeze! Why don't you go north to the Barrier Reef? Don't forget your waterproof pants. Do you know how it rains down there? Take your water wings. They're going to camp in Snow's tent!!! (maniacal laughter off stage.)
Well, let me tell you all about it, lest you begin to think in terms of wholesale discomfort and shivering misery. It rained all right - and it snowed and it sleeted and it blizzarded and it blew a holiday so wet we might have been excused for growing a coating of moss on the south side, but that only happens to stones that have stopped rolling and we hardly stopped once. The only personal fungus really worthy of mention was what Garth grew on his face over a period of 12 days, and which graced his manly beauty all the way back to Sydney as no opportunity (and no razor) presented itself to shave.
Arriving at Cradle Mt. Reserve about sundown on the Monday after our week-end with the Hobart Caverneers, all prepared to camp in a shed or in Snow's tent (too bad he had forgotten to bring his tent pegs), we were cordially greeted by Mac the Ranger, who said Waldheim chalet was vacant and we could stay there for 8/6 a night. Thus, whatever the days might bring forth, we were assured of dry warm nights. This was a great thing, but even greater was the deep sense of comradeship that permeated all our days at Waldheim - the sort comradeship that fills you with a warmth that physical cold can't touch. (There I'm quoting Geoffo, who always says these things so much better than I could myself). When the time came for us to go our separate ways we each experienced an indescribable sense of desolation, like finding your arm or your leg cut off. Snow nearly cried.
Well, there we were, all snugly ensconsed in the Chalet. Built of rough hewn native timber, Waldheim fits as naturally into its surroundings as grey lichen on a rock. Each year its aging frame leans a little closer towards the earth which is its home. Some day, perhaps soon, it will fall to pieces, but when it has become one with the dark mould of the beech forest floor we will think of it as of a dear dead friend……. We slept with our mattresses on the floor in front of a big fire and dreamed of what tomorrow might bring forth.
Up at 6.30. Snow lit the kitchen range. We had breakfast, cut lunches, and were away by 8.30 bound for Cradle Mountain. We tramped along muddy tracks in shifting mist and low cloud, and over huge snow drifts 30 ft. deep from which we could see a gleam of lakes in the distance. We practiced cutting steps up snow slopes at steep angles and kicking up and down snow faces and over a cornice. Keith knew all the tricks and Garth was pretty to watch, but Snow, new to all this, was like a gawky young puppy. As we approached Kitchen Hut all we saw of it was the chimney poking through the drift. Snow gambolled ahead and with great exuberance dropped himself down the chimney. The next thing we hear is a wail from down under the snow, “I can't get out!” We dragged him out, and as it was only 11 o'clock decided to go and climb Little Horn, a sharp splinter of rock separated by a gap from the north east end of Cradle Mt. For a couple of hours we wallowed waist deep through snow which lay lightly on the low scrub at the base of Cradle. Imagine a howling gale, a snow storm, and us, all aiming for the one target. It was a tie; we all reached the gap at the same time. Wow! We put our heads down and made all haste for the sheltered lee of Cradle. Here we ate our lunch, standing up, stamping our wet feet in the snow trying to warm them up. Although it didn't look far to the summit of Little Horn we decided we were too wet and cold and uncomfortable for any more, so wallowed back to Kitchen. “Ha,” said the weather, “I was only fooling you.” The wind promptly dropped, it stopped snowing, and out came the sun. Well, wasn't this mighty! The homing pigeons about faced and headed for Cradle again. Only Keith was a bit dubious about all this, and when we started the familiar sinking-to-the-waist progression all over again he decided he had had enough so returned to Kitchen hut. When we others got on to the steep slope of the mountain the surface was harder, and instead of sinking we now had to kick steps up the snow couloir. The summit ridge was well plastered, and on the sheltered side of the mountain were deep snow faces. We swung along with rising excitement, and at last reached the summit cairn, “Well,” said Garth, quoting Hillary, “We knocked the bastard off.” Said I, continuing the quotation, “The occasion seems to call for more than a formal handshake,” so we put our arms round each other's shoulders and jumped up and down on the summit of our own little Everest - three small figures under the sky and all the world was ours.
There were photographs to be taken while the sun lit up the snowy peaks and shining lakes, then the mist came sweeping over and we began the descent. We had great fun glissading down the steep snow slopes, and so back to Kitchen hut. Inside the hut Keith had worn a deep circular track in the snow that had drifted inside, as he stamped round for several hours waiting for us to return. We pulled him out through the chimney then followed our trodden tracks over the snowfields towards home. In the deepening twilight our eyes followed down Marion's track, over the button grass flat with its meandering stream to the dark frings of beech forest where Waldheim nestled in its nest of trees, a white column of smoke drifting upwards - good old Mac had lit the fire for us, and that meant hot water for baths. While still floundering through the button grass swamp we drew straws to see who would have first bath, and Keith was the lucky winner. While he filled the bathroom up with steam we set about getting tea ready. Keith had done a mighty job catering for this party; we had everything. Did we need rice and cabbage for Snow's Foo Chow - it was there. Did we need celery, apple, onion for our stuffed grouse - again, these were all available.
That night we fed well, then sat in front of a big fire, our wet clothes draped all around to dry out, and listened while Garth read what was to be our nightly serial - “The Day of the Triffids.” Outside the possums scuffled about in the brown damp leaves, the moon stole over the snowy stillness, and when at length it peeped through the skylight it saw us all sound asleep in front of the fire.
Next day we were hit by a low, despite a favourable weather forecast. We looked out the kitchen window to see Mac's wallabies patiently bearing the continuous rain and wind, but we stayed inside and set our hands to some fancy cooking. Keith made a super chocolate icing cake, I made a couple of baked puddings, and Snow's piece de resistance was a marvellous piece of conglomerate called Foo Chow. But after a late breakfast could we do it justice? It seemed a pity to have no appetite for all this luxury food, but it also seemed a pity to go out for some exercise and get our only outdoor clothes drenched again after spending all night drying them out. The problem was solved for me by putting on my boots and Speedo swim costume and hurtling out into the gale for a run. Down the road to the 4 mile signpost end back through snow and sleet did something for the appetite, and speaking for myself I can say lunch was a good meal. Garth and Snow went out later to work off the effects with a walk to Dove Lake, and Keith took his exercise vicariously by reading South Col.
Looking out the window hopefully next morning what do we see? More rain, wind and falling snow. But did that deter us after yesterday's day of sloth? No. And we set out to reconnoitre the cirque which holds Cradle Mt. and Barn Bluff together. Down and over the little stream where a poor washed out wombat peered about with misty nocturnal eyes trying vainly to find shelter under the footbridge, then up Marion's Track to the snowfields. And here we stepped into a strange world of cotton wool fog. In the windless silence we followed our faintly showing tracks of the preceeding days, being grateful to Garth for having sunk in so deep and so often, thus verifying the route. Occasional glimpses of snow poles also helped.
At Kitchen hut we again got into an area of wind which dispersed the mist somewhat and encouraged us to continue on towards the cirque and Barn Bluff. We battled along, knee deep in drifts at the base of Cradle, which looked huge and like the West Peak of Earnslaw (NZ) through the driving snow. The wind, now risen to gale force, came shouting at our backs, pushing us along and filling the air with icy drift. “It's going to be hell when we turn round,” was at the back of my thoughts all the while. At last we came to a small thicket of trees where we hoped to have lunch, but there was no shelter from the wind so we didn't even try to get out our food, but decided to return to kitchen to eat. And so we turned our faces into the sweeping fury of the blizzard. The blinding drift froze up our nostrils so we couldn't breathe. By pulling our goggles low, closing up our parks hoods and breathing warm air through the mouth into the hood the nostrils thawed out and we fought our way back, half blinded, our parkas and ground sheets whipping madly round us and echoing like bullet shots past our ears.
Back in the comparative calm of the Kitchen flat, somewhat chastened by our experience in the storm, we hardly felt like eating. Waldheim was calling… hot baths! warm fires! dry clothes! Ah…. The late sun shivered through a break in the scudding clouds as we slopped our way back, water trickling down between singlet and skin, sodden pants clinging to our knees and making walking difficult. We wriggled our toes in the icy mush inside our boots. Being dry was hardly a memory now. We side-tracked to have a look at Crater Lake. We were having a little argument with Snow as to whether you could get wetter than wet, and Garth was getting all technical about detergents. Snow didn't think it was possible. As he gesticulated to drive home his point he slipped and fell into the lake. He emerged the colour of pummice. Whether he was wetter than wet he didn't say, but I guess he was cold. He shot off like a rocket for home and a hot bath. We followed, and before long we were savouring the luxury of being warm and dry. Garth, Snow and I read out alternate chapters of our serial till tea time (that was the night we had stuffed grouse and baked vegetables), then found the suspense was getting so great we had to read on after tea till 10.30. In spite of our day's exertions, also because we realised that our holiday at Waldheim was half over, we felt reluctant to go to bed, so sat talking till 1 a.m.
We awoke at 8 or 9 a.m. Snowing and high wind, We left late - about 11 - but that didn't worry us; we felt by now we had got the measure of the weather - bad in the mornings tending to clear by midday. Mac had given us the key and rowlocks of the boat at Dove Lake. We clambered round the walls of the flooded boathouse and inside to find the boat half submerged. We put things shipshape and pushed out, getting the feet good and wet in the process. Who cares. What are dry feet anyway? Snow was falling, partly veiling the rugged walls all around. Great gusts of wind would swoop down at unexpected moments and deal the boat a mighty blow. Rain and snow beat in our faces and eyes and got down our mouths every time we opened them to say Gee wasn't this great. With all these hazards to contend with the pattern of our progress was a tortuous zig-zag and the miracle was we got anywhere without being sunk. As we skirted round Honeymoon Island with the wind doing its best to tip us in, Garth did a backward summersault and lay in 6” of bilge water laughing heartily. Gee, we thought, that was a good one, but this is hardly the place for parlour tricks. However it was unintentional - a loose rowlock had cast him forth thus. Peering through the falling snow we saw the white rail of the landing stage and managed to get there and tie the boat up.
What a country of contrasts this is. Leaving the cold and gusty lake shore we entered a dense beech forest - a world of utter silence where the only sound was the muffled plop of snow falling from burdened branches. We emerged from the deep timber and there were the rocks of Little Horn, and there again were the wind, sleet and snow. We had a really super climb up a crisp snow couloir lying at a very steep angle between black fangs of rock. There were magnificent views from the summit, but there were also frustrated photographers as it was too dull for colour.
And now we're coming down again and on the homeward run. We took a slightly different return route, following a little stream strong with winter, which tumbled along its rocky course under its beech tree canopy, and so back to the windy lake. Our morning's practice at the oars had done nothing to improve our style and we zig-zagged back to the boatshed, this time with Snow suffering (but not in silence) at the faulty rowlock. From the boatshed we ran back to Waldheim to warm up. Then followed the daily procedure of wringing out our sopping clothes and draping them round the fires to dry. A hot bath, dry clothes, and lunch by a big fire at 4 p.m., a session of Triffids, and life was a grand affair.
We had given up expecting fine weather, so were pleasantly surprised when we woke late on Saturday morning to a reasonably calm day. We got out to Kitchen about 12 o'clock (By now you have guessed that Kitchen hut is the hub of most of the mountain climbs), and decided on a traverse of Cradle.
A lovely day. Ours the joy of climbing to a mountain top, to gaze out over a world of wonder and delight; to dream unutterable things and try to put them in words; to feel the fresh keen air in our faces and the blood tingling warmly in our veins….. We returned to Waldheim walking on air.
And there we met Gawd.
He had just come up for the week-end. Gawd was a depressing type to whom the world was weary, flat, stale and uninspiring. The corners of his mouth drooped in a cureless pessimism. His every word was a blasphemy. He said Pah he wouldn't belong to a club and be ordered about. He said there was nothing good about Waldheim - its foundations, the original tree stumps, were perishing of wet rot; there was dry rot in the upper structure; the kitchen annexe should never have been built; the hot water system was useless. He said dear old Laz Pura had set out through the Reserve intending to commit suicide, else why had he signed the visitors' book “L.Pura, late S.B.W.”? We edged away from him as from a disease and had our tea when he and his companion had left the kitchen. They went off to bed early, so we had our last night together on the floor in front of the fire as usual.
And now it's Sunday - our last day. We plan to climb Barn Bluff and be back to catch a taxi out to Sheffield at 6 p.m. Gawd said, “Don't be too utterly ridiculous. You can't do it.” We awoke and got up at dawn, (all except Keith, who was going to have a day of rest), and were away about 1 1/2 hours later. With hard snow to walk on we reached Kitchen in an hour - less than half the time previously taken - and then round the base of Cradle to the cirque. Soon a dense mist enveloped everything as we groped our way along between snow poles. After a time there were no more poles to guide us, and the wind howling in the right ear all the time was the only indication that at least we were keeping our direction. Snow knew by the grace of Heaven where we were going, if no one else did. He headed off eventually up a small hill which couldn't be seen to rise in the fog, only felt. I was now aware of the wind howling in my left ear and couldn't get rid of the idea that we were on the way back. Snow drew maps in the snow with his ice axe to show how the cirque performed a big loop, but my brain couldn't take it in. But of course Snow was right, and when by a miracle the mist suddenly lifted there we were standing right at the base of Barn Bluff which towered above us like a mighty castle.
We had a little bit of everything on that climb, even ice faces, up which Garth led and cut steps for us. So to the summit. It was now a perfectly fine day - the map of the reserve lay spread before us in all its topographical detail. Garth strode enthusiastically in all directions taking the perfect photo, with Snow's voice following him up, “Take one for me.” (Snow had left his camera in the train at Albury).
At last we left the top and climbed and slid and glissaded down again. It was now late afternoon. Behind Barn Bluff mighty streamers of light from the westering sun radiated out into the endless blue where a few clouds - wind flowers - had scattered their petals of gold light. We could not keep from looking back every few paces.
'I have had my invitation to this world's festival
and so my life has been blessed;
My eyes have seen and my ears have heard…..'
“Well, It's been a wonderful party,” said I. “Who should we thank for all this?”
“I know,” said Snow, and over the glowing hills his eager young voice rang out, “Thank you Hughie for a glorious day.”
Back to Waldheim in time to have a hot bath, some tea, and be packed up ready for the taxi which arrived at 6. We carried our gear down and stowed it in the boot, and ourselves and ice axes inside. We turned round for one last look at Waldheim, (“Ought to have a match put to it,” said Gawd, but in our memories it will stay eternally embalmed - a mansion and a home.) One last wave to Mac, standing there in all his rugged gentlehood, genuine goodwill beaming from his face. We will come back again some day perhaps… Good-bye….. Good-bye….
Dear Geoffo, Judy, Bushwalkers and Bono,
I followed up two days behind Keith, Dot and Garth. The worst thing that happened was I left my camera behind when I changed into the Spirit of Progress at Albury. Discovered my loss in Melbourne and spent half the day on the telephone tracking it down. Arranged to have it sent on to Sheffield. Good plane trip over to Tassi. Got train to Western Junction and arrived just as the others got in from Hobart. Packs, skiis, stocks, ice axes and 4 huge cases of food! Are we going to eat all that? On the train we pushed all the food into our packs, then found Keith's wouldn't fit into the luggage recess. “Leave it in the passageway,” we told him. “No need to bother where it might be stowed - NOBODY would pinch that load!”
The young guard came in to talk to us. He likes his job, “You meet such beaut people - like you,” he says. That means us. “I suppose you never get train sick,” said Dot. “Not me,” says he “But one of our boofay girls gets sick every time she travels on this train; she's too loose in the bogy; you feel her give every time you change down.” I must have looked surprised, because Dot nudged me and muttered, “He's talking about the train Snow, not the girl.” Well, how was I to know?
We got out at Sheffield and loaded everything into our taxi. We made a few purchases at the shops, then headed for Cradle Reserve. The driver said they had been having heavy falls of snow and we would probably have to walk the last 6 or 7 miles - and our gear weighing from 50 to 85 lbs. Hell! Approaching Cradle the road was deeply covered with snow, but another car had made a track through it which we followed right to the Chalet after all. Thank God! Mac the Ranger was pleased to see us and asked why didn't we notify him; he would have prepared the fire for us.
We are roughing it pretty well - hot and cold water, mattresses, stove, even kitchen sink. The weather wasn't very good Tuesday, but undeterred we climbed the horse track to Kitchen hut with ice axes, etc. Practised cutting steps, etc. Garth, Dot and Keith were pretty good, but yours truly only managed to fall over bone over apex. Kitchen hut was covered with snow except for the chimney. I went down the chimney but had difficulty in getting out. We had ideas of climbing Little Horn, but the weather turned for the worse and we had lunch over the saddle. The way up the saddle was covered with waist deep vegetation and snow. Could just imagine Putt saying “Bloody vegetation!” and agreed. Having lunch was cold and wet so we retraced our steps to Kitchen hut. Here the weather cleared somewhat so up Cradle Mt. we went. Keith got cramps in the snow and vegetation half way up so he returned to the hut. Dot, Garth and myself continued. Garth and Dot just seemed to eat it up, but I felt uneasy. Reached the top of the ridge after climbing up the couloir and went along the top of the ridge to the summit cairn. A few photographs in the mist and down we went, Practised stopping with ice-axes on way. Learnt a bit and had tons of fun. We returned to Kitchen to find Keith inside and unable to get out. After extracting Keith we wandered down to the Chalet to have a - wait for it - hot bath! We drew straws to see who would have the first, but I was having a spell of bad luck and drew the last. Mac the ranger said we were the first to climb Cradle in winter, so when I'm old with a corporation and a red nose I'll tell my grandchildren how I climbed Cradle in August. After a sumptuous 3-course meal we placed mattresses on the floor around the fire and listened to the fourth chapter of “The Day of the Triffids,” Became unconscious after drinking cocoa end rum.
Tuesd….. Sorry, Wednesday. Woke to the howling of wind and rain. We were more or less hut bound. Dot went for an 8-mile run in her swimsuit while I cooked some Foo Chow. Keith had made a chocolate sponge and Dot two custard puddings. God help us when we start on the dehy. The weather improved so Garth and I went for a stroll to Dove Lake, Just as we arrived the late evening sun shone on Little Horn with Cradle tucking its head in the mist - a superb photo - yes we didn't have a camera between us. We returned to the Chalet - not hut - to a mighty hot bath. After such a big dinner we had no room for tea, so we went to London to see how the Triffids were making out. Garth would read a chapter then would enquire if anybody was hungry - Keith is always hungry. Dot would read the next chapter - still nobody hungry (excluding, of course, Keith). I would read the next chapter until, by 8 o'clock, we had to leave the Triffids and eat 1 lamb chop each, then back to the chaos in London. We went to sleep with my assurance that it was going to fine up.
Thursday. Still raining! We decided to brave the elements and go and have a look at the cirque. Climbed Marion's track to a world of white. What with the snow and mist it was just possible at times to pick out the next snow pole. Reached Kitchen hut with the weather decidedly worse, but we were not easily turned back. Battling on past Cradle Mt. with the King Billy pines like Christmas trees in the foreground - the wind and snow whistling past - Cradle with its majestic walls sweeping away into the mists - now where are we? Alps of New Zealand? Swiss Alps? or Canadian Rockies? The weather closed in to a blizzard so we beat a retreat to Kitchen hut where we had a small snack. The ice cave I started did not look very accommodating so we just stood and stomped our feet in the snow while we crunched Dot's beaut scroggin. I threatened to sleep the night in the snow cave, but fortunately they didn't take me up on it. We set off for home via Marion's track, with a deviation to look at Crater Lake. “You can't get wetter than wet,” said I, and promptly slipped and fell into the lake. Did not get everything wet, but what did get wet was bloody cold! I left the lake like a jet (the Wagg type) with Dot following close behind and made record time to the Chalet. All of us had a hot bath except Garth. “It will take my strength away,” said Garth. A couple of chapters of Triffids before tea. After every chapter we would give our own ideas on what would happen next, but every time we would be proved wrong. Keith went to bed early leaving us talking and drinking tea till 1 a.m.
Friday. Still rain, sleet, wind and snow. Heaven help us if we had had to camp in my tent without tent pegs. Slept in till 8.30 and didn't leave till 11 a.m. Mac gave us the rowlocks and key of the boat on Dove Lake so we rowed up the lake to climb Little Horn. Nearly lost Garth at Honeymoon Island - sprawled onto the bottom of the boat like a performing seal, laughing his head off - reason, a loose rowlock. Climbed Little Horn, wallowing up to our waist in “bloody vegetation” at the base. The snow in the couloir was firm giving excellent climbing. In mist and snow we beat a hasty retreat back to the boat, and of course I got the faulty rowlock and landed flat on my back with the oar bashing my nose as well. Here is our course across the lake:
/ \ / \ / \ X \ /
/ * / \ / \ / \ /
0– – – – –
* I bumped my nose here
X Garth landed on his back here
As you can see, we rowed four times as far as we should. Four wet, cold and weary climbers returned to the luxury of the Chalet where we spent the evening drying wet clothes and reading Triffids.
Saturday. The weather clearing at last - Didn't I say it would fine up? After a late start we managed to reach Kitchen hut at midday. Could see Barn Bluff for the first time this week. Unfortunately we did not have enough time to cross the cirque to the Bluff, so a traverse of Cradle it would be. Two hours to the summit with ice faces near the top - had to cut steps in places. Back along the ridge to a couloir half way to the end, and down we went. Keith and I used the rope for practice for the first time - then we glissaded down to Kitchen hut in a matter of minutes. Glissading is a wonderful sport in itself - puts skiing in the shade. Returned to the Chalet to find it over-run with tourists, curse them. One, a supreme pessimist, growled that the kitchen was no good, there was dry rot in the roof, wet rot in the floor, the sink is lousy and the hot water system useless - but to us it was a mansion. He gave us a laugh at least. The stars are out with a frosty night, so it will be Barn Bluff or bust tomorrow. To-day has been mighty - one of the best climbs yet.
Sunday. Woke up with Keith, who did not have to get up as he was going to have a day of rest, prodding me in the back saying, “Get up Snow. It's either 5 o'clock or 6 o'clock”. - Urh! I fumbled round, 1it the stove, and we were away by 7.45. Walking up Marion's track with the snow firm underfoot - into the mist up top like walking thru cotton wool. Reached Kitchen in 1 hour, then around to the cirque. We became confused as to where Barn Bluff was, but found it in the same position. Plodded up the lower slope towards the rock, then as if by the touch of a magic wand the mist rolled away like curtains on a stage reveal the Bluff in the centre. Would we be the performers and climb it for the first time in winter? Up the couloir we went right to the summit. Wow! What a view! Snow-dappled peaks around us forming the backdrop. Firstly Cradle, then Rowland, Oakleigh, Pelion East, Ossa, Pelion West, Frenchman's Cap, Lyon, ocean beyond Queenstown. The weather was perfect everywhere in sight (our pessimistic friend told us it couldn't be fine in the N.W.), and it seemed too soon when we had to retreat. The sun had been shining for a couple of hours turning the hard crisp snow into wet slush, Dot sinking to her knees, myself to the waist, and sometimes we thought we would never see Garth again. Under these conditions it was a hard bash back to Kitchen. From there we followed our tracks of the previous day, arriving at Waldheim at 4.30p.m. Keith had wandered up to Dove Lake, etc., in our absence, obtaining some mighty Kodachromes. A bath for everyone - even Garth condescended to have a “weakening” bath; however he was so long about it, Dot suggested he might be too weak to crawl out of it, so I went down to give him a hand. After that a mad rush to pack up and catch our taxi to Sheffield where we slept the night under some fir trees in a cow paddock. Every bird in the district must have been roosting in those trees - it was not only super, it was superphosphate, but Dot fixed that with a few loads of straw from the goods shed. Next morning we dragged the postmaster out of bed to give me my camera - but no, it had not arrived! Into the bouncing buggy to Railton with Garth shooting off 17 frames of black and white through the back window. “I've got 400 ft. of this stuff” he explained.
At Railton we lost Dot and Garth who had to get the plane at Devonport. When you have lived together as a group for a period of time, and especially climbed together, it was a sad loss when they had to leave us. Keith and I are going on to Hobart, thence to Field National Park to get in some mighty skiing. (I haven't used my skiis yet so I'm looking forward to it.)
This letter started off to be just a couple of lines, but like Topsy it just grew. However I will close now, hoping you are all well. See y' later hot pertater, SNOW.
Most of us will never cease to be startled when we first see in some shop window “NINE WEEKS TO CHRISTMAS”, with obvious arrangements that tick off the fateful weeks as Time's swiftly flowing stream relentlessly bears us forward to the snags and rapids of Christmas time.
Well, here stands Paddy like Father Time, hour glass and scythe complete, (but without the forelock), to remind you that by the time you read this it will be SEVEN WEEKS TO CHRISTMAS.
About 2,000 Boy Scouts go forth this year from N.S.W. alone to the Jamboree to be held in Melbourne, and there will be a corresponding pressure on all camping Equipment. Bushwalkers will therefore be wise to secure their requirements early.
Primus Petrol Stoves, 21 oz. 49/-
Melbourne type one-man tent 4/19/6
Imported aluminium screw-top tins 4/6
Paddy Pallin Lightweight Camp Gear, 201 Castlereagh St, Sydney