THE SYDNEY BUSHWALKER
A monthly bulletin of matters of interest to the Sydney Bush Walkers, c/- Ingersoll Hall, 256 ,Crown Street, Sydney. Box No, 4476, G.P.O., Sydney. Phone: JW 1462.
274 OCTOBER, 1957 Price 9d.
|Editor:||Frank Rigby, 70 Beach Road, Darling Point. MU 4411 (b)|
|Sales & Subs:||Jess Martin|
|Business Manager:||Jack Gentle|
|Typed By:||Elsie Bruggy|
|At our September Meeting||Alex Colley||1|
|Back of the Castle||Alex Colley||4|
|Confessions of an Admiral||10|
|Climbing Expedition - Pigeon House, The Castle, Tallatarang||Digby, Geoff and Dot||12|
|Your Walking Guide||15|
|Letter from George Swenson||17|
|Federation Meeting - September||18|
|Seven Weeks in New Zealand||Dot Butler||20|
by Alex Colley
The President occupied the chair and there were some 65 members present at our half-yearly meeting.
Committee vacancies created by the departure of Malcolm McGregor for Washington and Sheila Binns for England, resulted in Ron Knightley being elected Vice-President and Yvonne Renwick and Dot Barr being elected joint Secretaries. Ron's election created a committee vacancy for a Federation delegate and this was filled by Jack Gentle. All were elected unopposed.
The President acknowledged the receipt from Dorothy Lawry of several old club magazines, to replace gaps in our library files, and expressed the Club's appreciation for her response to the Librarian's request.
In the absence of Bill Cosgrove the agenda motion for taking out 50 memberships of the National Parks Association was not debated, but Tom Moppett said that in the revised constitution, to be considered at the next meeting of the Association, provision was being made for corporate members. Members of organisations which became corporate members could become group members. Every 25 group members of any given organisation entitled their representative to an additional vote. Tom moved, and it was resolved, that we become corporate members at a fee of ₤1 a year.
Tom Moppett also told us that Malcolm McGregor had, by some secret manoeuvre, lined up a valuable publicity medium, and asked anyone who could supply coloured slides of wild flowers to get in touch with him (Tom).
The ski-hut committee had nothing to add to their previous month's reports except that it had heard, through Paddy Pallin, that it might be possible to acquire White's River Hut. On request, Paddy gave the meeting a description of the hut, which he had stayed in during his recent trip from Kosciusko to Kiandra. Paddy said it was a small corrugated iron hut, lined with caneite, accessible from the Munyang Power station - a distance of about 4 miles. There were two jeep tracks leading close to it, one of which, leading to a hydrographic station, would probably be kept in reasonable repair. The position was sheltered and the snow excellent and lasting for some five months. The fire place smoked. Accommodation was for 8 or 10. It would be accessible by jeep or Land Rover in summer. It was a very good centre for ski touring.
Peter Stitt said that the hut we would have to build in Perisher Valley was not the hut we had set out to have, being far more elaborate than we needed. Colin Putt said that when we talked of ski huts we stopped being bushwalkers and resembled the skiers displayed in Farmers and Mark Foys. He said it was possible to walk on snow; this he had proved by a series of experiments. Snow Brown said that the Newcastle Bushwalkers had overcome much greater obstacles to build their hut on Barrington, having to carry everything up 4,000 feet. John Scott said he had made an estimate of the projected Perisher hut, designed by Laurie Rayner, and made the cost about ₤700 for material only. The ski hut committee was requested to make further inquiries about White's River hut.
On a motion by Allan Hardie, it was decided to support the Caloola Club's efforts to stop the granting of snow leases in the Kosciusko area, He quoted the disastrous effect of a fire on Mt. Twynam in 1940 and the effect of sheep “still munching grass 24 hours a day, seven days a week.” Most speakers were in favour, but Betty Sisley supported the policy of the Lands Department, which she said, worked in very closely with the Soil Conservation Commission, in the granting of leases.
Tom Moppett then moved that the initiation ceremony be dropped from future re-unions. Nearly everybody had something to say on this. Some thought initiation was “childish,” “so much bunk”, or “useless”. Several suggested that more originality was called for.
Georgia Antoinaides said that she hadn't minded being initiated a bit – it was quite all right. Don Matthews and Brian Anderson referred to the difficulties of the reunion committee and the lack of any suggestions for an appropriate ceremony. Nobody had any improvements to offer, nor did the meeting indicate that the initiation be dropped, as the motion was lost.
The meeting closed with a dissertation by Allan Hardie on the virtues of the Wilkinson Valley as a site for a ski hut (or lodge) and on the mispronunciation of the word “ski” by one who should have known better.
Overheard in the Church at Geof and Grace's Wedding: “Is that really Stitt?” in tones of unbelieving surprise. And, sure enough, there was the Best Man attired impeccably in the smartest of suits, complete with button-hole flower and with not a hair on his head out of its appointed place - you could have mistaken him easily for the Smart-Young-Man-About-Town. At the reception, however, Pete shed his veneer when he got up to speak - “The Bride and Groom, ladies and gentleman, SLOBS and Dung Khan, —”, (PS. The reception was informal and had a very strong bushwalking flavour.)
by Alex Colley
Between the Upper Clyde River and the Nowra-Braidwood road there lies some of the weirdest and most fascinating country that I know. It is not the roughest country in the world, nor even in New South Wales, but it is some of the most difficult to find your way in. This is partly because of the lack of maps. An un-contoured, inch-to-the-mile military map takes you about 12 miles south of the road, and in the clear weather, when you can see the conformation of the landscape, is a good guide. But south of this there are no maps except a 4 mile to the inch one which is almost useless where cliffs abound a 1939 sketch map of the Clyde River by Herb Freeman, and a tracing by Ken Angel, which I found in the forgotten recesses of our map' cabinet.
This latter is, I believe, traced from an aerial survey but it includes only a small corner of the Castle country.
I have done my best in the accompanying sketch (traced by Betty Sisley) to piece together some of these fragments and add my own un-measured observations. The result is inaccurate but may help readers to follow the narrative.
To the difficulty of being virtually unmapped is added the unusual geology of the country. Though unable to give a scientific description I can at least tell what I could see. Towards the Clyde there is a hard conglomerate sandstone cap some 500 feet deep (the top of the Castle) rising to nearly 3000 feet above sea level. About 500 feet below this is another band of conglomerate, which, in the Upper Clyde, seems to divide into two layers. Thus in the deeper levels there are three distinct layers of cliffs. Only the Clyde and Yadboro Creeks have cut through the two bands of conglomerate. Towards the West the sandstone gives way to much harder rock. The Endrick and Corang and their tributaries, flowing to the Shoalhaven have cut through the top layer of conglomerate in their upper reaches, leaving isolated conglomerate table-tops standing Some 500 feet above the valley floor.
Towards the West they have cut into the second layer, which rises slightly and weathers to a rounded shape. The hard rock to the West has prevented deep erosion, leaving shallow wide valleys in the sandstone country. If you are a grazier and know the country, it is easy to ride a horse between the convex rock surfaces and the tabletops. But for a walker without a map it becomes a kind of maze. Following. the ridges, as we do in the Blue Mountains, isn't possible because you can't pick them, and if you could they are often nothihg more than a series of rock platforms. Add to this the thick mists born of the sea breezes, and navigation is not easy.
I have been on three previous trips in this country, on two of which we tried to reach the Castle from the back. We never got more than two or three miles beyond the timber track to “The Vines” and could only guess where the Castle was. On one memorable King's Birthday weekend twenty S.B.W.'s, including some of our best map-readers, spent a whole day in bitterly cold, wind-driven mist and rain, finding our way off a plateau about 2 miles across and 400 feet above the valley floor. When, therefore, we decided to do a trip down there at Easter and Frank Leyden said “Let's go to the Castle”, I replied “We'll be darned lucky if we even see the Castle!” How right I was!
Our Easter party - Frank Leyden, Bill Cosgrove, John Scott, Frank Barlow and I, got off almost according to plan on Thursday night, our schedule delayed only by the chronic failure of the Railways Commissioner to run Easter trains to the South Coast on time. By 11.30 we were camping amongst the inevitable broken glass, tins and papers at Tianjara Creek. Next morning we drove on to a point just beyond the Jerricknorra River, Here we hid the Land Rover in the bush on top of a slope out of sight of the road, cleared a small fire-break round it, and by 10.30 were on our way.
Our first objective was “The Peak” (Corang Trig) about 4 miles distant, which we had already glimpsed from the road. This is a treeless cone 2828 feet high, standing on top of a platform itself perhaps 300 feet above the valleys. The platform is, I think, the lower layer of conglomerate, and the Peak is what Pigeon House will be in another million years - the hill without the house. It is an extraordinarily symmetrical cone, visible from most of the top country.
Our method of progress was determined by our chief navigator, Frank Leyden, and was based on the fundamental axiom that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Frank Barlow, long accustomed to holding a course over the rolling billows of the Pacific, was in his element in these hills, and hardly a degree did we deviate. Up a hill, down a hill, over the Jerricknorra, up another hill, along a fence - the position of which - half way up a steep hill - was probably determined by a line drawn in the Lands Department a century or more ago - through some slip rails, over two little streams flowing through steep, rocky, scree-sided gullies, and up on to the treeless rock platform. On top we were delighted to find that we were now only a mile from Mount Everest. The whole Everest terrain, on a scale of one in twenty, unfolded before us. We had performed the feat of walking straight up the southern face of Nuptse. To our right was Lhotse, leading down to the South Col, thence to Everest itself. Below us was a deep cleft leading down to the Western Cwm and the Khumbu glacier. Walking along the top of Nuptse we crossed the Lhotse face above the icefall, thence to the Geneva Spur and the South Col, and within half an hour of ascending Nuptse were on top of Everest.
The view from Everest (The Peak) is extensive the most interesting section being that across the 3000 feet valley of Yadbora Creek to the rounded cupolas of granite (?) that top Currockbilly (3,709 ft.) From here I was able to study the worst ridge in the world - a succession of piles of loose, vertical rock slabs leading from Currockbilly to Yadbora Creek, which caused a bus load of Bush Walkers to miss their waiting bus by 10 minutes on an Easter trip, We looked far down the Coast to the mountains of the Araluen and Dromedary near the sea. To the East was Pigeon House and the Clyde. This was a view which, with foreground variations, we frequently enjoyed during the trip.
Our attention soon focussed on our route to the East. Some six miles along the edge of the Yadboro escarpment, just beyond, and possibly joined by high ground to a treeless hill, rose a long slab of the conglomerate layer. To the North of the escarpment was a wide shallow valley - the upper Corang or a tributary. Rather than risk a night on the dry, stony, treeless escarpment, we decided to make for it. Though less than 500 feet below us, there was a rock face to negotiate, and in these parts the rock-faces have a way of curving round and down to the vertical. It is easy to pick a way up from below, but only trial and error will find a way down from the top. On the second try we found a way down the rocks easy enough for the sneaker wearers, but requiring caution by the hobnailers. Our wide valley gave us some shelter from the cold westerly. Its southern slopes were treeless and the upper portion convex surfaces of bare rock. Lower down parallel bands of vegation followed the strata, and near the bottom parallel bands of shrubs looked like hedges.
Next morning we struck a happy compromise between the bee-liners, the-ridge-walkers and the valley-followers, and by 10.30 were within half a mile of our table top - a smooth vertical slab 300 feet or more high and a mile long. There was broken rock at the northern end and this looked like the only possible access to the top. We debated whether we would make straight for the broken rock, over the little gully below us but decided to play safe and head it. How glad we were when we looked through it from its source a quarter of an hour later and saw the cliffs on either side! Soon we were at the bottom of the cliff face and climbing up'a fissure, Half way up we took to the rock- that rounded conglomerate - but were turned back by a vertical slab. So we followed the fissure, which runs right across the table-top, to its highest point, where we had lunch, and afterwards climbed to the top without much difficulty. But for all we knew this was the only way up and we had to be sure we could find it again from above. Compasses were out, formations aligned, arrows drawn and breakfast food packets affixed to sticks.
From the top we saw the most fantastic rock formation it has been my lot to look upon. I have seen photographs of the valley in the Barklay Tablelands called the “Ruined City” and this was similar except that it was on the mountaintop instead of in the valley. The horizontal strata has been weathered into great blocks some of which resemble multi-floored buildings along streets. But others are crevassed and buttressed and taper towards the top like steep, flat-topped pyramids, Ray Kirkby, who has also seen them, likens them to pagodas. They reminded me of the ruins of ancient Mesopotamian cities. A certain local character known as “the galloping Major” - a soldier of World War 1, has named many of them after Egyptian ruins.
Once on top we set off with light hearts to walk to the southern face where the view would be magnificent. But in 10 minutes the ground fell away before us into a great rock-girt fissure invisible from our previous viewpoints. We followed the fissure to its shallowest point, where it was about 40 feet deep, but the convex rock face became vertical a good 20 feet from the bottom, holds were precarious, and belay points for our short length of sash cord non-existent. There was a crack, but one could look down through it vertically to the bottom, The rubber-shod ones tried here and there. The wall might be descended but not by five non-rock climbers. So we shouldered our packs, said “Oh well, its been good to get this far” and started back. But wait - the crack was impossible, but I must at least wriggle down a few feet. It was just possible to worm through, using a wedged-in rock as a foothold, drop to a ledge, then down a steep little bank to another ledge and to the bottom, But what about the other side? It scarcely took a minute to get up there and wave to the others not fifty yards away who didn't believe it till they saw me.
In a few minutes we were all down, standing in scrub thick enough to stop a bandicoot. This suggested was the spot to camp and to my surprise everyone agreed. But first, water. So we divided into two parties each to go in opposite directions for five minutes. One party came to the cliff-edge, the other found water, and so we left our packs and set out for the southern edge.
It was all we hoped and more. A mile to the East was the Castle and between our platform and it two others - huge buttressed slabs. The Castle from here is a great block, half a mile long and some 500.ft. high, set on top of a treeless mountain which rises above the lower cliff face. In fact it is only a remnant of the upper strata. In a million years it will be another Pigeon House. In two million years another “Peak”. The afternoon sun high-lighted the cliff faces and threw the shadow of our own mountain top across them. As we looked Frank Barlow picked out a white speck which appeared for a few seconds - on the northern approach. Along the long stretch of coastline he identified many of. the landmarks he had used as a yachtsman but never before seen from this angle. The Yadbora Valley, Currockbilly and Budawang were, to our disgust, obscured by the smoke of fires lit by a grazier at the foot of Wog Wog mountain.
For perhaps an hour we drank in the scene, then back to our fissure to clear, without benefit of axe or bulldozer, enough space to lie down in. In fact we had a most comfortable night, protected by scrub and rock faces from the cold wind that blew above.
On the way back we decided to follow the southern escarpment instead of the upper Corang in the hope of getting out to Some spectacular looking vantage points. But our enemy with the matches was too busy. Even then fire crept up the Peak, and as we neared it flames roared up the valley below us, forcing us to return to our old route. Pastorally, this country is worthless. Little grass grows on it - mainly reeds, sedges and hardy shrubs. The few cattle pastured on it probably lose condition. But a fire is followed by edible green shoots, a few cattle may survive, a few pounds may be made; and so beauty is destroyed and the scant soil bared to erosion. In this winter of hard cold and drought the fire lighter will get what he deserves - a bare, charred waste - but the poor cattle and native animals will starve.
That evening at 4.30 p.m. we found ourselves again on Everest with no camp site in view. Bad planning this. We should have started earlier or picked it before we set off. Talking fast and risking my reputation as a water-diviner, I persuaded everyone to deviate to a nearby fissure where water must be. If there wasn't, or if we couldn't get down, it was dark and we were high and dry. Besides, it meant going backwards. So I relented and sped on towards those abominable little rocky gullies. The top of the Lhotse ice fall (camp V11 1953) looked flat and there should be water but if there wasn't it was dark. So on we blundered to the edge of Nuptse.
“Where” asked Frank Leyden, “will we camp?” “There”, I replied, indicating in the fading light a level spot on a ridge below. “Is there water?” “Yes, if we go down far enough,” So we went. It was level but paved with triangular stones. Luckily the water was only a hundred yards and 50 feet below. The moving of rocks served only to uncover similar ones below. And so the five unwise Bush Walkers, who were old enough to know better, got the camp-site they deserved.
Next morning we got on to our line again - the two Franks, each with compass in hand, sometimes diverging, but always in debating range, the rest of us pursuing a middle course. Over the rocky scree gullies, through the slip rails, along the fence, down a hill, across the Jerricknorra, up a hill, down a hill, and so, like homing pigeons, to the welcoming gleam of the Land Rover's headlights, as they reflected the sunlight through the trees. It was un-charred. It went, and the trip back to Kiama was as pleasant as motoring can be over a dirt road on hard seats and hard springs.
Now about the latest Mara — (sorry, long walk) fiasco. The four “ninety miler” turncoats were seen at Blackheath Ck - Cox Junction on the Saturday afternoon - come, come Snow, better spill the beans or people will be saying you didn't know which way the Cox was flowing!
Dear Mr. Peter Stitt,
No doubt you will remember me, with Miss Price and Messrs Abbott and Round accompanied you on your official Boat Race to Wiseman's Ferry several weeks ago. Actually my use of the word “accompanied” is possibly a little incorrect as we were nine hours behind your arrival at Wisemans.
As leader of the trip you naturally asked, in a somewhat gloating manner, may I add, what caused our delay? Well, due to the circumstances that prevailed at the time, we felt it would be better to fabricate a story, rather than tell the truth. However, now we've decided the truth should be told, mainly to stop your continued questioning and thus end your frantic search for the facts that led to the “Blunder in Broken Bay”.
Of course, Peter, you realise that seven of those nine hours were spent assisting Mr. Hooper and his crew from the Barr Estate Wharf to Wisemans Ferry. Nevertheless it is the other two hours (which spelt doom for us as far as winning the race was concerned), I think you will be vitally interested in. So here is our story, a strange sea story, of four courageous clots who, if put in the Archibald Fountain, in a boat, would still manage to get themselves lost.
Both Alans had their eyes and ears glued to the running engine, waiting to correct any of its peculiar eccentricities. Nothing was to go wrong. It was vital we try and take the lead up Cowan Creek if we wished to build up a workable lead. So as we waited for your call to start we gathered together our maps, torches, tide charts and all other information that would help us win this important race.
However, your call didn't come as Mr. Hooper surreptitiously crept into midstream causing a mass panic to get away amongst the other four boats. In this mad rat race start, we managed to wangle into third place which wasn't too bad considering the reigning confusion. But our advantage was nearly lost when right across our bow appeared a 40 ft, cruiser, With a wild saving action we steered towards the stern of the cruiser hoping he would accelerate, thus avoiding a collision. Then to our horror as we swung around we found ourselves on top of Jim Hooper's boat. An inevitable thud followed. Jim's boat turned 90° off course, heading out of apparent control for the bank.
Alas, here appeared the sadistic side of our natures, as we rubbed our hands with glee because now we were in second position.
Up front, about 100 yards away could be seen the phosphorus trail of Colin's boat. With some luck at cutting corners and also Colin's boat stopping we managed to get to the front.
It was about half an hour later when things began to happen. Previously we had agreed to keep all torches off. At all cost, we weren't going to let anyone sponge on our navigation. (Ha Has). So by starlight only we strained our eyes to read the map, keeping one point in our minds - watch out for Jerusalem Bay.
Soon on our port side appeared three lights. These, we thought were the lights above Rhode's Boatshed. As we conferred together at the blunt end of the boat, on the prospects of this being Jerusalem Bay our hearts suddenly leapt into our mouths and a sickly feeling developed in our stomachs. An expensive torch which John Thornwaite had lent us slipped into the water.
With very uneasy feelings we squatted down on the seats, moaning over the loss, completely disregarding the fact that Lion Island was straight in front of us on the distant horizon.
A few cheery words from Alan Abbott brought us back to the problem on hand - where were we? Once again lights on our port side appeared. A long line of them, very much like those at Brooklyn. With a little more squinting of the eyes a green light could be made out at one end - Ah, this was the railway signal. So we hadn't gone wrong.
At full speed ahead we raced towards the lights, only one odd thing was worrying us. Where in the hell had Dangar Island got to? It couldn't possibly fit into that landscape.
With mad haste I began orientating the map with my useless compass. One look over my shoulder was enough to tell me where we were - Patonga.
Yours, for more daylight boating,
P.S. For those who don't know or are too dull to guess - we came last.
(Is this the full story, Admiral, or are you still holding out? There is a strong rumour that you all went ashore at this unknown place with full intent to enquire from the residents just what town they lived in – Ed.)
The walk of 18/19/20 October to be led by Brian Harvy has been designed for new members and prospective members who have not been walking in the Blue Mountains, so as to give them the opportunity to view the scenery of main walking country at their eases with plenty of time to take photographs and have the peaks named. Trip starts with the 6.26 p.m. train to Katoomba on the Friday night, travelling in second carriage from front. Clothes not required on the voyage may be cloaked at the Station. Descending Nellies Glen, the first camp will be the “old Pub site”. The folk will meet the Carlons next forenoon, then press along the Black Dog Track to Glenalan Crossing for the night. The way will then be via Taro's Ladder and Clear Hill on Sunday morning an early lunch at Glenraphael Swamp, thence along Narrow Neck Plateau to Katoomba. Excellent scenery all day Sunday. Total trip is about 25 miles, all track walking - descent and ascent of about 1300 feet, otherwise fairly level going - 5 meals to be carried - tea at Katoomba on Sunday night. Fares about 24/-,
– By Malcolm, Digby, Geof and Dot.
(As you may remember, it's high time Geoff had a finger in this communal pie so stand by while he tells you how the Tallatarang party fared: Says Geoffo)
Some trips are forgotten before the scratches on our legs are healed. Some live for a time until overlying events blot them out, But there are times when a trip, or more probably a day, will impress you with such a wealth of feeling that you know its richness has become part of you and will be so for the rest of your life. For me it was such a day that we climbed Tallatarang. But to have a day there must be a dawn, and to have a dawn there must be a night, and that's what it was when Putto woke me. It was night, dimly lit by the reluctant light of a waning moon that showed in silhouette the bulk of Putt made monstrous with sweaters and horse rugs.
“It's five o'clock,” he cried as though it was some great good news he was announcing. “Time to get up!”
As I dragged myself from the superdown the cold hit me like an icy wave and washed some of the sleep out of my head. I remembered where I'd put my boots and took them from under the pillow and pulled them on with shaking fingers. Oh, the cold! The cold! After three icy minutes scratching in the pack Ltd the ingredients of a breakfast and thankfully headed for Putt's fire. Ah! that's better!
With the breakfast beginning to sizzle and a deliciously warm feeling on the side of me nearest the fire I began to take an interest in the world around. The trees and the sky above were all so still that you could hear a star fall. But beneath the trees things were beginning to move. In the nearest tent, cunningly pitched so as to gain the maximum warmth from the fire, Malcolm was reclining in his fleabag directing Colin in the production of his breakfast. His main concern seemed to be that it would be cooked before he was ready to arise. Beside me Manning John, bless him, was warming his little petrol primus in the flames. All was quiet in the Matthews' tent where Don and Tine slumbered on, being under a misapprehension about actual starting time. Nor is the Dalai Lama showing much enthusiasm about the great outdoors. We hear him trying to rationalise his reluctance to leave his sleeping bag. His voice comes emphatically through the chill pre-dawn gloom: “I'm not like that Snow Brown person; I'm a gentleman. I don't sneak up on my sausages in the dark; I wait for the daylight and give them a sporting chance.”
Silently the darkness dissolves and the faint light in the sky becomes the subject of arguments. Is it sidereal twilight? Is it astronomical twilight? Is it nautical twilight? Is it civil twilight? Is it twilight?
“Just be quiet for a minute and learn something from an experienced twilight observer:” says the Dalai. “When I stand here, what causes this shadow? Is it the fire or the moon?”
“It's the sun!” crows Snow,
“A-a-aw-a-a-ahr-rr!” growls the Dalai. “It makes me mad!”
At this stage the patient Putt could wait no longer but shouldered his pack and made for the icy Clyde. At last things began to happen. Malcolm climbed leisurely from his flea bag - a few of the faithful followed Colin to an icy baptism accentuated by splashes from the Tallatarang boys (who didn't have to cross the river). In ones and twos they reached the other bank and stamped their feet in the frost till Malcolm, a picture of sartorial elegance, sauntered across. We saw them crunch away along the frosted flat, then it was time for us to go. Strap on the caribeena and the slings, shoulder the pack, coil tho rope and away. Tallatarang and adventure, here we come!
We ran through a world on the very brink of day with the ice white bracken brushing our legs, and our breath streaming out behind us. Across the river flats we went and through the dry stream beds, Manning John leading with his great long legs taking great long strides and never seeming quite under control. Dot went skipping like a little girl out of school, and Mick moved with that muscular economy that makes him seem to glide up hills. Grace and the Dalai and I, who don't get quite so much exercise, were quite satisfied to keep up.
The well-worn cowpads led us along the Clyde and up Byangee spur within coo-ee of the rocks that had rebuffed us in an attempt we had made on Byangee the previous evening. They looked more friendly in the morning light and for a moment almost snared our fancy, but just one glance at Tallatarang's stern and sunless face, and as though he were a wizard we found ourselves in his power. We stood in his shadow by the Clyde with the frost about our feet and gazed at the forbidding wall; like the wall of some ancient castle, chipped and battered by the centuries but nowhere broken. Johnnie said he knew a way up the first cliff line, though as we looked it seemed not possible. Possible or not, Johnnie said he knew a way, and all we had to do was follow, So we followed up the steep and shaley ridge.
“Not a plant that prickles or scratches,” said Dalai, beaming beatitude on the vegetation round about. We should have known that the prickles and the scratches were reserved for our entertainment higher up.
From the base of the cliff where the ridge ended we could look across the valley to Byangee Walls and the Castle beyond, but much as we wanted to keep an eye on the view, we found we needed both to pick our way, for Manning was still ahead and going strong. We followed the foot of the cliff line to a place where a giant slab had fallen from above and bedded itself in the talus. We had to squeeze between this and the cliff, then put again through the sloping crack that split the slab at the centre, Even Manning could fit through here.
(At this juncture Geof runs out of breath and hands the narrative over to Dot to continue) …..
Up the first precipice we go without stopping, following in John's eager wake, and gain the first shelf. From then on it is unknown country, but everyone now has his ears back and almost without breaking our pace we shoot up the second cliff wall. Then we can see we have just a steep slope to climb to the top of the mountain. We sweep round in a wide circle to the right to get on high ground and avoid a heavy tangle of swampy growth, but eventually we find we are into it despite our precautions. Here we find that Johnnie's well nourished frame is a great advantage. He goes in front with tireless energy, literally bashing down the undergrowth like a bulldozer. He falls forward on to the dense matted growth of reeds and vines and spear grass and effectively flattens them, and the rest of his party follow in comfort through the beaten down swathe. (The report that circulated round the Club, that he would fall forward on the obstacles and his party would then use his prostrate form as a bridge, is not quite correct however.)
Out of this tangle at last, and we got into a queer tall growth almost resembling bamboo, and through its dry rustling stems we moved easily, looking round every now and then to see if there were pandas about, for this could easily be a bamboo forest in the foothills of the Himalayas. A final rock-climb, which we carefully marked with a cairn to show us the way down again, and then it was just a scrub walk up to the summit. Here we had lunch and made a cairn and lit a fire for the benefit of our friends on the Castle, but they didn't see it.
Then, as it was still quite early we thought we would shoot down and climb Byangee on the way back to camp, but this heroic decision gradually seeped away as we descended. A side trip around the top of the second plateau to see the view, of the Clyde country took up some time, and as it turned out we had to scoot somewhat to get back,to camp in the last fading gleam of light. Pete Stitt had a big pot of soup on and welcomed back our triumphant party, and some time later the Castle crowd returned by torchlight and we all swapped experiences.
The next day, in leisurely, fashion, we ambled back to Drury's, climbing Pigeon House on route. A whole article could be devoted to this climb, but space forbids. However we can't pass over the remarkable incident of Snow prospecting a way up a new chimney where a chockstone blocked his further passage so effectively that he had to take off his clothes to get through it (so I'm told); nor the occasion when Grace was being told not to dilly-dally at a particularly precarious spot in case he lost her nerve. “Dilly Daily, Dilly Daily, Come and be killed,” sang Colin; (This chorus from the song of Mrs. Bonn and her ducks had been our theme song for the weekend.)
“Oh I say Putto - Rather an unfortunate choice of sentiment don't you think?” said Geof.
And then back to the waiting cars, The Dalai Lama is cajoled into taking Snow in his car as passenger, and we watch them drive off in their forlorn search for Snow's lost buggy. The rest of us cram ourselves into the Puttmobile) then heigh-ho for home after a most dam fine splendiferous capital letter Adventure.
Only you Mr. Leader (or Miss Leader) can help me. All you have to do is spare the poor miserable elongated Walks Secretary ten minutes of your precious time. Yes, ten minutes, that's all!
Just enough time to write down who went on your walk and what happened on your walk. Anything that you think will be of interest to the members, for example points, on transport, availability of water, bushfires, tracks, rock carvings, wildflowers, nudist colonies, etc.
Also those humorous happenings help to add flavour to the Walks Report.
So will you help me?
Thank you, Brian Anderson (Walks Secretary)
|October 18-19-20||Narrow Neck - Megalong Area||See Page for Leaders own comments.|
|19-20||Yellow Rock-Grose R.-Vale Lookout||A balanced mixture of easy, medium, rough, creek, river, ridge walking. An approximate three mile dirt road walk involved from Yellow Rock to the headwaters of Blue Gum Swamp Ck. Medium walking type climbs up onto Yellow Rock and out of Blue Gum Swamp Ck. Possibly a scratchy scramble up onto Vale Lookout. Views from Yellow Rock of the Nepean and Grose River from Vale Lookout are worthwhile. Good swimming along lower Grose River. Bus or Taxi transport available from Kurrajong to Richmond. A General Transfer letter for rail tickets will be arranged by leader. Rail fare 10/5 return. Bus or taxi 3/- to 5/-. N.B. Omit Mt. Bowen from particulars of Walk.|
|20||Marley Pool-Winfred Falls area||Walking is very easy to medium along bush tracks and roads. The falls and pool along this walk present a very pleasing pibture of the Royal National Park. Wildflowers should still be in bloom. The 8.59 a.m. electric train from Central catches the 10.5 a.m. ferry to Bundeena. Combined train and ferry fare 6/6.|
|25-26-27||Mini Mini Range - Six Foot Track area||This is a very pleasant medium test walk, From Jenolan Caves Road to Gibraltar Rocks the way is a combination of timber roads and tracks with a little scrub bashing as you approach the end of the Mini Mini Range. Very good views of the Megalong Valley and Upper Cox from Gibraltar Rocks. A graded track from the Rocks to Katoomba. The track itself passes through the picturesque Gibralter Ck.-Cox River-Megalong area. Climb out of Megalong is approx. 1500 ft., but is easily overcome by a tourist track. For this time of year the Cox River offers many good swimming holes. Train fare 24/9. Car approx. 15/- to 20/-|
|October 26-27||Carrington and Minnamurra Falls area||Don't forget your camera on this trip as both falls and coastal views give the photographer some decent subject matter. Walking is easy to medium. No major climbs - only one descent. The route intended is a mixture of tracks and bush roads over flat upland swamps common to this area. Permission to use Robertson tickets from Kiama will be arranged by leader. Return fare 26/3|
|November 1-2-3||Fraser Park||An easy two mile stroll - swimming, fishing (with spears of course), sunbathing etc. In other words a first class spine-bash. Train fare 20/5. Bus from approx 5/-.|
|2-3||Era - Instructional Weekend||Whether walking in from the lookout or Garie Beach, the way is an easy 1/2 to 1 mile walk. Ideal camp spots. Good swimming in surf and also small rock pool. For those who like to potter around rocks, this is an ideal location. From Waterfall bus or taxi transport is available. Check with leader re bus times on Saturday to Garie Beach. Approx. combined bus and train fare|
|8-9-10||Camberwarra Dugong Ck. area||From Camberwarra Lookout and Upper Eugong Ck. views of this part of the South Coat are extensive. Good area for colour photography. The going is mainly medium with a few rough spots. The rough areas are mostly belts of rain forest you have to pass through. Good chance of a feed of fruit from the few deserted farms along the track. Return fare 31/6 plus car to Camberwarra 6/- to 10/-.|
|9-10||Mt. Solitary||Best described as easy-medium, hard going. The hard going is the pull up onto Solitary. The easy is the track from the Ruined Castle to the Scenic Railway or Stairway and the medium parts being the road into Kedumba Ok. and the track along Solitary. If Scenic Railway isn't used for climb out of valley the other way out is via a tourist track. From Solitary are good views across to Katoomba and down Kedumba Ck. As this will probably be in warm sunny weather don't forget to take your hat. Train fare 22/2. Taxi to Queen Victoria Homes, 15/- for five bods.|
|10||Heathcote Ck||Easy Sunday walk. Walking is of a medium nature. Many pools in this creek make it ideal for a swimming crawl. Return fare 5/-|
About 120 bushwalkers gathered at the Harvey's Wahroonga home on 14th September for the highly successful Bon Voyage to the McGregors. Highlight of the evening was the new Chronic Opera, designed especially for Malcolm and so obviously conjured up without his foreknowledge or censorship. That with all the Highland brogue floating around and the rakish kilts worn by the “Characters”, the evening had more Scotch flavour than a bottle of White Horse.
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS College of Engineering URBANA, ILLINOIS August 30 1957.
The Sydney Bushwalkers. Dear Friends,
I promised Malcolm McGregor in March that I'd write a piece for your newsletter, giving a Yank's impression of Australian bushwalking. The press of duty and a tight itinerary, combined with the debilitating effects of one or another of your more virulent Australian “wogs”, have led to this unforgivable delay, Please forgive me, anyway.
When I heard that I was to be travelling around the world I was spending the summer in Alaska. One of my mountaineering friends advised me that “bushwalking” is one of the finest of sports and that the Sydney Bushwalkers are among its foremost exponents. I believe he'd been talking to Leon Blumer; even so, he gave me the best of advise and made possible the highlight of the entire round-the-world trip. As for the bushwalkers themselves, I expected to meet a group of warms friendly, hospitable people. People who love the wide, open spaces are invariably like that, with a feeling of kinship for anyone who shares this love. Naturally then, I wasn't surprised, just delighted when these expectations were realized. One of the characteristics of the typical bushwalker is his pride in his own Blue Mountains. This is proper and fully justified; the Blue Mountains are worth flying around the world to see. Another characteristic is his lively curiosity about other places, and this, in particular, helps the stranger to feel at home.
As some of you will remember, I was able to participate in two outings while visiting in Sydney, the first to Pearl Beach and Warrahl the second through some of the rough country along the Cox Drainage, near Katoomba. I remember particularly, from the first trip, the careful briefing on the local flora, the fascinating library at the botanical station at Warrah, the search for souvenir seashells along Pearl Beach, the midnight search on the hilltop for my foolishly forgotten film cassette. Oh, yes, and the mosquitoes! Say, Yank, are you a vegetarian? (Why smoke up your billy when a fresh, juicy pineapple is a meal fit for a king?)
About the second trip, perhaps the less said the better. At least that's what I might have thought as I left the Matthewses that night at Railway Square. But time heals all wounds, and the disappointment at having to take the short way home gives way to vivid recollection of the spectacular scenery along Narrow Neck and Breakfast Creek, and gratitude to the conscientious Leaders who patiently led the rubber-legged straggler up the last, interminable pitch before the blessed haven of a frontier farm. Lest any suspicion arise that collusion between a Leader and a visiting stranger could result in a white-ant type of play, let it be known that a virus can be as effective an obstacle as a bergschrund or a grizzly bear. Anyway, it nearly broke the leader's heart to lounge around the farmhouse while the walkers toiled upward in the rain.
Other impressions: Nettles along Breakfast Creek. The luxury of the clear creek water after the long, dry walk along the ridge. The smell of burning gum leaves. Disappointment when the plump, wild melons turn out to be green. A wallaby, at last. A kookaburra chorus at the head of Breakfast Creek – no sound like it elsewhere in the world. A friendly farm couple with an interest in world affairs and plenty of fresh milk in the cooler. On the train, a covey of young girls with box lunches – how they can eat!
The visit to Australia was too soon over. I was able to fly to Hobart to visit a colleague and to explore for a weekend. The flu was still nagging, so I had to take a bus up Mt. Wellington, Alas for a mountaineer's principles. The Derwent is blue, the roofs of Hobart are red, and the hillsides are golden. The parakeets are bright green, and there's a tree of vivid green that shines yellow in the sunlight. They were loading apples into ships from England and Germany. A Devonshire tea is delicious, but fattening. Hobart would be a wonderful place in which to live.
I hope I can walk in the Blue Mountains again. Take care of them until I can return. Australians are entirely too casual about bush fires. Years ago in America it was thought that burning was good for forests and grazing lands. Now too much of our inherited wealth is gone, and others should profit by the example.
I hope, too, that some of you will visit North America. You'd like our mountains and forests and rivers and lakes. You'd like our people, too, and find many kindred spirits.
I send my thanks and best wishes to all of you, and especially to Malcolm McGregor, Keith Renwick, Don and Tine Matthews.
Sincerely, George (G.W. Swenson, Jr.)
Eighteen delegates, representing ten Clubs, constituted almost a record attendance for recent months. Among the more mundane items on the agenda, the following pearls emerged.
1. THE ANNUAL BALL at the University Refectory was reported as “an outstanding social success” with two birthdays and one engagement (guess who?) being announced. It was also a financial success (for the Federation)and it was estimated that S. &. R. funds would benefit by about L20.
2. S. & R. Over the weekend of September 7th and 8th, some Boy Scouts became lost while on a hike in connection with their “Adventurer's Badge”. S. & R. went into action on Tuesday night and into the Jamieson Valley at 5 a.m. on Wednesday morning. The lost ones came in along Narrow Neck under their own steam the same day.
The next weekend - September 14-15th - you guessed it! Another “Adventurer's Badge” hike - and another party of Boy Scouts missing. They turned up on the Tuesday evening, just in time to stop panic action.
Among correspondence tabled during the evening was a letter from the Boy Scouts Association offering to defray expenses incurred by searchers.
3. PEPPING-UP of FEDERATION: Re the S.B.W. inspired motion, “that “Federation examine its position and procedure as figurehead of the bushwalking movement”, Federation examined itself.
As an upshot, Federation officers will soon begin personal lecture tours of Clubs other than their own.
by Dot Butler.
The Almer hut is situated at the head of the Almer Glacier which makes a steep drop to join the Franz Josef Glacier about a thousand feet below. From a rocky platform a short way in front of the hut one gets an enormous sense of spaciousness. Away to the west extends a long horizon bounding the mist blue sea. In the fading twilight the slopes of the low hills are steeped in colours rich as a satin bower bird's wing. Back towards the east rises the snowy Main Range swathed in the lacy mist of a summer evening, and the wide snow basin of the Franz Josef neve through which we had come that afternoon. But our eyes looked down to where tomorrow's route would take us, and there below lying wickedly expectant, like a white dragon exuding cold from its wrinkled scales, we saw the Franz Josef glacier waiting. “Come on down,” we heard it calling. “Come down, you four little crawling creatures and see what happens.”
The morning of 24th January dawned fine and calm. We weren't due in Christchurch till the afternoon of the 28th to catch our plane back to Sydney. It wouldn't take us two days to get to Christchurch, so it was with a fine sense of leisure that we dawdled around, and didn't set out from the hut till about 9 a.m. We had read in the hut book of a party which did the journey in three hours. We would allow ourselves at least six hours, which would give us ample time for photographs and lunch and generally playing about.
We got through the lateral broken ice and on to the glacier very successfully, and pottered along till about midday when we had lunch. There were lots and lots of cracks now, and as we got into the ice-fall area they got deeper and deeper and more maze-like, and, to cut a long story short, after spending three or four hours of trial and error we ended up again at our lunch spot. From the hut book we knew that a party had gone up recently, and from below the obvious route would have been up the centre of the glacier, but when we tried to get over to the centre we encountered a vast and melancholy ruin of dirty yellow rotten pinnacles and we let ourselves be deterred by them, although, as we afterwards found out, this was the correct route. We looked at the time and held a conference and decided that as we had two or three days up our sleeve anyway we might as well go back to Almer hut and try a different route in the morning. So about 5 o'clock there we are on the return run, expecting to be off the glacier and back to the hut before dark at 9 o'clock. However, about 8 p.m. down came a dense fog, and in the uncertain light it took us a long time picking our way amongst the maze of crevasses. Nor could we be sure of the location of the Almer Glacier on our left - our landmark for getting off the Franz to ascend to the hut. At 10 o'clock we were still creeping along in the fog and getting a bit tired of the futility of it; it hardly seemed worth while trying to climb up the couple of thousand feet to the hut, reaching it by midnight, just to have to get up by 4 a.m. and start coming down again. Our packs were heavy so we decided to stay where we were, dig some sort of cave shelter, and start moving again in the daylight. We scouted round and found a great overhanging wall of ice and hacked away in relays with our ice axes till midnight hollowing out a shelter sufficient for the four of us to crouch in. It wasn't a very effective hole, but at least the work kept us warm. But by midnight we were all tired of chopping, and it had begun to snow and the wind blew cold and George and Snow were beginning to wonder apprehensively what they were in for. (Whaka and I had on past occasions spent nights out in blizzards so we knew.)
George and Snow took off their boots and got into their sleeping bags and put their feet in their packs and their parkas over the top, and sitting on their boots tried to sleep. George sat partly sheltered by our excavation - it wasn't worth sitting right inside, as we found, because the water dripped in through the ceiling too much - and he says he slept well. He was the only one next morning with anything dry in his possession. Snow sat out on the ice, and the snow built up on his head and shoulders till he looked like a relic from Scott's last base in Antarctica. Whaka didn't have a sleeping bag as he had been sleeping in the hut blankets all the trip, so we wrapped my bag half round his waist and half round mine and pulled our parkas down as best we could over the bulk, then we proceeded to keep ourselves entertained by jumping up and down together on the ice, and singing all the songs we knew and telling each other jokes and funny stories, and laughing like made through the rain and the sleet and the howling wind. By 2 a.m. the laughter was getting a bit hollow and by 3 a.m. it had stopped.
Now that our own voices were silent we became creepily aware of the noises around us. The glacier seemed alive and evil and monstrous shaken by inner growling and hoarse pantings. A desolate wind from nowhere moaned over the icy wastes and fought its way through the ice pinnacles in uncanny gusts and gaspings. It would not have been good to have been alone. Once Snow woke up with a start hearing a hollow booming, soft and muffled and remote - curiously disturbing. “There's a dance band”, he said. “I can hear the drums!” It took us a little while to convince him that he wasn't back home with a dance going on up the street.
“Go back to sleep Snow. It's boulders rumbling down the watercourses under the glacier ice,..”… Doom! Boom-de-Boom: Snow shut his eyes tight to the torture of reality, pulled his sodden sleeping bag around his ears and tried to recapture his dream.
About 4 a.m. a sickly pallor crept into the snow fog. Thank God we can get moving; We prodded George and Snow awake and they unwillingly got out of the comparative dryness of their sleeping bags and dragged on their boots and we got going. My legs were solid ice up to the knees, and I guess Whaka was as badly off, and I could barely totter along the ice ridges as we made our way off the glacier.
As we ascended the rocky ridge the snowing changed to raining, and by the time we had struggled up the snow grass slopes to the hut, which we reached at 7 a.m, we were running with water and as wet as if we had gone swimming in all our clothes, packs included. At the doorway of the hut we struggled painfully out of our boots, dropped off our wet clothes, then wrapped ourselves in hut blankets (luckily there were dozens), and fell into our bunks. The ocean of sleep washed over our exhausted bodies and we lay on the sea floor drowned and still. Oh, what a sleep we slept! It wasn't till evening that anyone stirred, and then it was only to eat some food, then back to sleep again till next day.
And the next day it blizzarded .. and the next .. and the next. The hut, lashed down by steel cables wrapped round huge boulders, lifted and rocked and shook in the fury of the storm. If it had taken off it would have gone a long way down to the glacier below and us with it. During one lull in the proceedings, about the third day, we thought we would make a dash for it and hope that three hours of braving the elements might get us down to the West coast, but though we packed up and set out, the view we got half an hour from the hut put us off any attempt on the Franz. The days of continuous rain had caused huge floods of dirty brown water which were tearing madly down the side of the glacier, undermining the ice pinnacles which were tottery enough anyhow without this extra hazard. We couldn't have got on to the glacier, so we decided it would have to be the long plug back to Graham's Saddle and over the Pass and down the Tasman to Ball hut and out via the Hermitage. We had missed our plane bookings by now anyhow so what did it matter. So back to the hut we went.
By now we were getting perilously short of foods and starvation was staring Snow and George in the face. We found a few bashed and battered and blown tins of herrings in a cupboard, obviously damaged during an air drop. We tried one out and as no one died of ptomaine poisoning we ate the others. A further search brought to light a tin of concentrated tomato soup. Things were looking up. George ratted round in the tool cupboard and found a couple of calico bags of what might have been flour. He examined them cautiously - this one felt a bit coarser than that - that one was greyer than this. This was no time for super-subtleties; we were hungry. “It's flour all right” said I. “See - it's in a flour bag. Give it to me”, and I added a large quantity of flour to half a gallon of water and the concentrated soup. We all ate as much as we could (What a lovely feeling to be full!) and retired to our bunks for a snooze. I awoke from a restless, dream-haunted sleep to a sharp intensity of pain in the pit of the stomach. Before long the boys woke with a groan, complaining of a burning in the stomach area, and it was some hours before we recovered. The cause remains a mystery,
George thinks the flour-like stuff was size. Whaka suggested it might have been flour intended for paste to glue down the paper lining of the hut and doped with arsenic to deter silverfish. I thought it was perhaps just ancient flour eaten in large amounts too quickly. Snow held no opinion except that he wished he hadn't eaten it.
On the night of the 28th, when by rights we should have been in the plane approaching Sydney, the barometer showed a favourable rise. The wind had dropped, so by 3 a.m. we were up and soon on our way on the long trip back to the Tasman. This was the first fine day anywhere in the Cook area and for the first time a plane could come out. We saw the tourist plane, on its way over to the Fox, circle round the Almer hut several times, but we had left the hut several hours earlier and by now were way up in the neve near the pass so the pilot didn't see us.
The weather was incredibly still. The sky, softly blue, seemed chastened and contrite after its stormy excess. The Minarets were breath takingly lovely with diaphanous swathed of white mist floating round their lower slopes. The whole of the western side of the Main Range, under its mantle of new snow, radiated tranquility and peace. But the eastern side, from the top of Grahams Saddle down to the Rudolph and then the Tasman, was a scene of complete and incredible wreckage. I have never seen so much destruction following a storm. The whole mountain side was scoured out. The snow couloirs we had climbed up only a few days previously were gouged out to the virgin rock. Huge rock avalanches had ploughed deep and dirty troughs down the mountain side and lay scattered in dark fans away below. As we gingerly climbed down, a whole face of the mountain dropped away in one terrific snow avalanche.
Eventually we got down to the Tasman, then, as Whaka had unfortunately sprained his ankle, we sent George and Snow on ahead to tell the Mt. Cook bus driver at Ball hut that we might be about an hour late for the bus back to the Hermitage, and slowly came on our way. George went back with the bus, while Snow and a young Australian guide came back to meet us, and a special bus was sent back for us later (at our expense). We got down to the Hermitage and sent off telegrams and cablegrams to announce the fact that we were overdue and had been weather bound in a hut for several days, then we went down to the Unwin hut for the night and caught the next day's bus to Christchurch, That evening we saw Whaka off on his boat to Wellington. We slept that night in a local motor camp, and were on the doorstep of the Airways office bright and early next morning to explain why we were three days late and try to get another booking. There was no plane available that day, so we trailed out to Summer beach and slept in a shed in the park, and next day (Feb. 1st.) returned to Sydney. To leave Christchurch at 5 and get to Sydney at 8 (having put our watches back the regulation 2 hours) seemed all wrong. It made New Zealand as close as a train journey to Katoomba. However, it was a long time before the unreality wore off. For many days I found myself thinking I was still in those lovely little green islands with their snowy mountain peaks. For a few years hot dry sunny Australia will fill our thoughts, but one day we will find that strong, sensitive fingers are again rapping at the mind and we needs must leave our shores and go whither the stranger beckons - back to the high hills, the hard life, the effort and the striving, and the merry companions, all of which stir the soul to a depth and tenderness past the power of words to describe.
(And so ends what must be one of the most remarkable literary efforts ever to be associated with the “Sydney Bushwalker”. Certainly it had length, but Dot's series of articles on the N.Z. adventures had much more than this. From beginning to end she has sustained the highest level of entertainment value with that inimitable style that only Dot could produce. The nicely balanced mixture of scenery, personalities, adventures, incidents, philosophy and reminiscences has earned a wealth of admiration, not only from Club members, but from many right outside the field of bushwalking who have read our Magazine. Our heartiest thanks to you Dot, for a really outstanding series of contributions. – Editor.)
Cupid strikes again at the Sydney Bushies, Congratulations to David Bennett and Betty Sisley who announced their engagement at the Federation Ball.