SBW Walks Programs
A monthly bulletin of matters of interest to the Sydney Bush Walkers, The N.S.W. Nurses' Association Rooms, “Northcote Building”, Reiby Place, Sydney. Box No.4476 G.P.O., Sydney. Phone JW1462
|Editor||Don Matthews, 33 Pomona Street,Pennant Hills. WJ3514|
|Sales & Subs.||Eileen Taylor|
|Business Manager||Brian Harvey|
|Typed by||Jean Harvey|
|Promenade Near Home||Kath McKay||1|
|Social Doings for February||Pam Baker||3|
|At Our January Meeting||Alex Colley||4|
|Where Did They Go ?||5|
|Descent of Hay Creek Canyon||Dot Butler||6|
|Hatswell's Taxi & Tourist Service Advertisement||9|
|Illawong Ski Lodge||Frank Leyden||9|
|Sanitarium Health Food Shop Advertisement||11|
|The Car Trial||11|
|Dry Milk Delirium||A.Theakston||15|
|Watch Out For the Indians||Keith Renwick||16|
By Kath McKay
They say that if you walk for ten minutes away from the main road you find solitude, and it is very nearly true. Certainly you have to endure a stretch of populous highway, with a string of cars racing from point to point in the shortest possible time, but once you turn down a side road, peace descends.
They have built an ultra-modern school in the street I chose, in ground where there was once an old homestead and capacious stables to house six or seven vehicles. All that has been swept away, but an avenue of tall pines betrays the age of the place. To be sure, there is now a bitumened street where once was grass, but cones still drop on the turf sidewalks and the wind sighs as it always did through the pine needles.
Dinky little bungalows have cropped up between the decaying older houses, and many of them sport artistic name plates on their fronts. One of these, with a drawing of a somnolent Mexican beneath a cactus, bore the name hasta la vista, I paused awhile, saying the phrase over to myself. Of coarse: hasta la vista: the same as au revoir, auf wiedersehen, a rivederci, be seeing you …..
A boy, hosing his lawn, lowered the jet of water so that his dog might lap thirstily from it. Farther on, past the cushions of buffalo grass and the huge creamy blossoms of magnolia, a sign DATUM POST brought me up short again. A homemade legend told the world that on June 8th, 1956, at 3.30 p m., the land, one acre, one rood, was occupied by the undersigned for the purpose of prospecting. Prospecting? For what? Gold? Oil? The land, all overgrown, bounded by waving hedges, lay undisturbed in the sunlight, bearing only in the lush grass rank on rank of flaming cannas, yellow and red, and the flower we used to call red-hot pokers.
Leaving the puzzle, I came next to a bowling green, four rinks no less, one still under construction, very prosperous-looking in its wild surroundings, with flannelled figures gesticulating earnestly in the distance.
On into the waste land again, where dock and fennel and reeds and red bottle brush thrive, and so to a footbridge that I had heard tell of. It spans a lagoon, and before its advent parents living in the district were loud in their complaints because their offspring had to walk round at least a mile to attend a school set only a few yards away on the opposite brink. Working bees were formed to build earth approaches through the marsh, and at last the local council, shamed into action, contributed a tidy footbridge over the actual water.
The lagoon narrows there into a tidal creek, and the landscape was practically without figures. A man was walking his cocker spaniel; wild duck, absorbed in their awn affairs, paddled in the melaleuca-shaded upper reaches; seated at the water's edge a fisherman brooded over his rod with his wife beside him. Atleast, I suppose she was his wife: she was silent, anyway …..
Only a few streets away there was the rush and bustle of a normal Sunday afternoon. It was good to know that here, quite close to home, was the peace and spaciousness of the wild.
Date: 11th-12th March.
Location: Wood's Creek (On Grose River).
Train: 1.09 pm. from Central on Saturday - arrives Richpond 2.51 pm.
Private transport will be used to take train travellers to Wood's Creek.
If you can't organise a lift for yourself .. OR If you can provide transport for one or two .. Please contact The Transport Organiser, Eric Adcock. Phone UA3257.
Note: If rivers are flooded, Reunion will be held at Long Angle Gully.
15th February Mr. Waterhouse will be giving an illustrated talk on Australian Birds.
22nd February Once again the Bush Music Club will be entertaining us. If you recall their visit a couple of years ago, you'll remember - that both S.B.W. and artists all had a good evening. We may hear some songs from our own song book, as the Bush Music Club now have a copy. Supper will be served both nights. Charge: Same as usual (1/-). Tea and Coffee.
15th March See Notice Board for details.
22nd March We will be hearing Michael Sawtell talk on Australia - as it was, as it is and as it should be. Supper again.
29th March Free Night.
Walk 24 to be led by Greg Grennan, will now be on 25-26th February, not 4-5th March as prevlousiy advertised. See leader for details.
The next Walks Programme covers the active season of the year May-August. See Walks Secertary Eric Adcock and help fill in the empty spaces; then write a few lines about the proposed trip and send it to the Editor far the Magazine Walking Guide.
The Annual Swimming Carnival on February 18th-19th at Lake Eckersley. Good camping, campfire on Saturday night. Easy two and a half-mile walk from Heathcote Station. Trains: 12.50 pm. Saturday or 8.50 a m. Sunday. See Notice Board for further details.
For all your needs, at a considerable saving, contact Stuart Brooks.
By Alex Colley.
Our meeting commenced with a welcome by the President to new member Phyllis Bell, apologies from a number of people still on holiday, including our Club and Social Secretaries, and a welcome to Lynette Baber, back after two years abroad.
In a verbal report on Federation matters, Geof Wagg told us that Myles Dunphy had had an interview with Water Board authorities on the possibility of including Kanangra Tops in the Blue Mountains National Park. The Board told him that it was the intention to police the area more thoroughly and perhaps close the Kanangra Road so as to exclude people from the catchment area. There was however hope, Myles thought, of permission for organised bodies to enter the area. A road had already been constructed to Medlow Gap and Cedar Creek. There was a large clearing there which, Brian Harvey told us, was for landing helicopters carrying fire fighters.
Next the reunion site - Woods Creek - was agreed upon, and Malcolm McGregor, John White, Edna Stretton, Greg Grennan and Dave Brown elected to the reunion committee.
Jack Gentle reminded us that the annual election of Club officers was approaching and that Bob Duncan, our Secretary, would be going overseas so wouldn't be available this year. He would be happy too if someone would take over the President's job.
Allan Hardie informed that, in a shack on the ridge between Burning Palms and Era, a sign had been displayed advertising an estate agency willing to negotiate the buying and selling of shacks. Jack Wren informed us that, in addition, the frame of another hut was going up at Era. The continuance of Shacks at Era was, Wilf Hilder pointed out, in direct contradiction to the Minister for Lands declared policy, put into effect at Palm Beach and elsewhere, of clearing squatters from public lands. It was decided to leave the matter in the hands of Federation.
Ray Kirkby put forward a suggestion that retiring Club officers should leave notes for their successors on the way their jobs should be done. This would make it much easier for incoming officers, who often had to find out from scratch how to do the work. It was pointed out that there was already a motion to this effect, and that it should be adhered to. There was in fact a black notebook in which these things were written. Ray replied that he was so nettled at not being handed a prepared portfolio when he took office, that he wished to point out that the only information he had ever been given from that black book was wrong.
The President then gave us a down-to-earth talk on the walks programme, the theme being no walks no programme, no walking no prospectives, no prospectives and soon no club.
Wilf Hilder then gave us an interesting dissertation on the subject of roads, water pipes, erosion of bulldozed tracks, and the general determination of all authorities to thoroughly louse up the bush for walkers. However, just as he was warming to his theme he was ruled out of order because there was no motion about anything.
Our meeting ended with a message from Roy Craggs that he mould like to hear from Kokoda trail starters by not later than February 20th.
Jack Gentle's party of 8 toured Tassie - the Reserve, Hobart, Port Arthur
Dot Butler's party of 6 visited the Reserve and Frenchman's.
Bob Jones was with a Melbourne group who conquered the unclimbed face of Federation Peak. We hope far more details of this later on. The climb included an unscheduled (we presume) overnight stop in a chimney.
Geof Wagg led 6 members on a leisurely trip through Morong Deep (Ginkin to Hanrahans Creek). Water was running a bit high but weather mostly good and the swimming delightful.
Others at Era.
Bob Duncan and party of 8 walked in the Bawley Point - Pebbly Beach area. The leader reports discovery of a new gourmets delight - sea fleas. See R.A.D. for details.
George Gray's party (6) visited Guthega area, climbed around Twynam, slid down the still extensive snow patches and enjoyed magnificent views and good weather while Sydney sweltered. The Snowy, fed by nearby snow patches, was just right for swimming. (We're serious about this!)
Frank Young's party of 4 motored to Coolamen - caves, trout fishing, panning for gold.
Dozens of S.B.W. at Burning Palms (see elsewhere).
There must be many other trips of which we've heard nothing. If you have been walking recently write and tell us about it - members are always interested in Who Went Where.
Evelyn Esgate and Michael Elfick married on 14th January. They are at present in Cooma and expect to be living at Jindabyne (S.M.A.)
Nan and Paddy Bourke on the arrival of a son - Brian.
Jean and Alan Wilson, a daughter - Heather.
By Dot Butler
How many people, spending a lazy weekend at Bluegum Forest, realise what a terrific opportunity for excitement and adventure lies waiting for them just around the corner, so to speak. All these years of Bushwalking and the Club is only just becoming aware of Hay Creek Canyon!
It was Evelyn's official walk, but as Mick was the only one who had been there before, he took over the responsibility in the Canyon - an excellent arrangement.
Evelyn ushered twelve of her starters down from Perry's in the dark hours of Friday night. Helen, the lucky- thirteenth, was at a party and was going to come up on the paper train and meet us early next morning at the Pinnacles, on the way to Hay Creek.
We camped about midnight in the Forest, filled with the good intention of rising early, but you know how good resolutions have a way of evaporating overnight. During breakfast preparations there were a few pangs of conscience as one or another thought of Helen waiting up top for her party, but even that didn't seem to increase the speed of their champing jaws. However, some time after 8 am we were on our way, carrying only ropes and a jumper and a packet of lunch each. We followed the track up and over Lockley's Pylon, and then headed off through the scrub towards a convenient entry to the Canyon. Helen was duly collected coming down the ridge to meet us. She had been waiting some hours and was wondering what had become of us. She informed us blithely that she had no lunch - a crow had got off with it, paper bag and all. She saw the thief shake off the paper bag in mid-flight, but her luncheon roll she never saw again. We tested her reflexes to see if she was in a fit state to do the trip, and in spite of some misgivings decided we'd chance it and take her with us.
At last we came to a shallow gully which was the place to enter the Canyon. It was quite easy going along its bed, and we found ourselves wondering when we were going to come to the really hairy places hinted at by Mick. About lunch time we encountered the first obstacle - a deep pool enclosed by walls of black rock - the obvious place to stop and eat if you planned to have your sandwiches dry, because a swim seemed inevitable. However Dot pioneered a way round the rock wall on the left hand side, and was followed by Wendy and Snow and George, and later by Rona and Robert the Duncan. This dividing of the party also meant people were separated from their lunches, but with true community spirit each ate some lunch, either his own or someone else's, and even no-lunch-Helen was catered for. Lunch finished, the advance party sat on rocks of a tributary watercourse and watched the rearguard making a tough descent from their first pool by abseiling down a 15 ft rock wall. Nick and Ben were organising the show, and it looked as though Lyndsey and Helen weren't finding it too easy. However at last they were down and the party was all together again.
The water in the canyon had now gathered speed and urgency. The full volume was roaring into a deep black chasm blocked by a bulky chock stone the size of a large tombstone, and it was on this precarious perch, vibrating ominously under the impact of the water's blows, that the whole party had to assemble in order to negotiate the next hazard. Dot climbed down to have a preview, and the full horror of the situation burstupon her: a great dark twisted chasm, the bottom of which could not be sighted, its walls black and slimy and utterly devoid of toe holds, made even more hazardous by the water pouring down it and leaping out as a waterfall which disappeared in a white flurry into the cryptic depths. Are we really going to inveigle inexperienced abseilers into that! Putt's 250 ft nylon rope doubled for abseiling will just get a person down to yon small ledge under the waterfall, but what hidden problems lie beyond? Still, Mick was confident the party could do it, and his optimism won the day. Some previous climbers had left a great thick hawser tied to the chockstone. It had been lying in the water for who knows how long and it was frayed in places, but we decided to use it as a safety rope for what it was worth, to give the illusion of security to our beginners as we directed them over the undercut rim of the chasm. Snow was asked to go down first and wait on the ledge some 100 ft below to catch the beginners as they came down - or merely to give them courage by his presence. (We didn't notice whether he had his rum bottle in his parka pocket, but we hoped so as the first hour slipped by and bodies were still descending.) We sent the girls down first, and the courage and trust of these young untried lasses was really touching. “Go on, over you go Foxa. I've got hold of the safety rope”. “Get started Rona; it's just cat's smeat”. “Down you go Lyndsey; Snow's waiting down there to receive you when you reach the ledge.” One at a time Mick organised them down as on a conveyor belt to the jumping off place. Dot tied the safety rope round their waist, and with words of encouragement each was duly despatched.
Then it came to the boys turn. Snow, still crouching on his ledge with the waterfall pouring on to his parka-hooded head, was amazed to find the water suddenly changed course and instead of pouring down on his head it now came down in two parallel chutes on either side of him. An astounded glance upward revealed the reason - the Dalai was coming down horizontally instead of vertically. The waterfall hit him in the middle of the back and was deflected off his body via the head and feet. Wonderful ! Only the Dalai could think up that variation.
Carl, complaining that everyone should know he was not a climber, went down without a hitch. When George and Ben reached the ledge they saw the rest of the party swimming through the water of the deep narrow gorge. Surely it should be possible to avoid an icy bath by progressing along above the water with feet on one wall and hands on the opposite -wall. It was worth a try anyhow, but as the walls got wider apart they finished up swimming like the rest. Finally Dot and Mick came down and the abseil rope was pulled down. Poor Snow, almost congealed into an icy mass, vacated his post under the waterfall after nearly two hours, and swam stiffly to the opposite end of the pool. Someone who showed a tendency to sink was saying it was all Helen's fault; she drank so much liquor at the party that alcohol was seeping out of all her pores, thereby lessening the surface tension of the water and making floating more difficult. Helen, who was doing a bit of sinking herself, hotly denied this. She had purposely drunk nothing but orange juice.
A bit more rock clambering, rope work and swimming and then we were out in a wider section of the gorge. Quickly the boys lit two fires and we all stood around thawing out and drying our clothes. Rona's waterlogged jumper, however, remained stretched below her knees like a fashionable sack-suit.
The rest of the gorge was just a walk out now, and we all scooted back to Bluegum Forest by dark and told Heather the highlights of the trip.
The Outward Bound instructors are keen to co-operate with Rock Climbing Clubs in classifying all the climbs we do. Let it be put on record that Hay Creek Canyon is in the super severe class, XXX and three stars and see that you're insured.
By Frank Leyden.
Members of the S.B.W. are welcome as foundation members of Illawong Ski Lodge. This Lodge is the old Pounds Creek Hut completely rebuilt, and comfortable furnished and equipped to take 8 persons. It is located about 2 miles above Guthega Dam on the right bank of the Snowy River and thus access is assured under practically any weather conditions.
The principal feature is that it gives the most practical winter access for ski touring on the biggest and steepest snow slopes in either Australia or Tasmania. These slopes are located on Western Twynam and Northcote Canyon. Anyone who is a good walker and sufficiently interested could soon acquire the necessary basic skiing and terrain technique. There are mighty granite precipices, sweeping for thousands of feet, that would offer many interesting summer and winter climbing routes. Vast areas of easy snow slopes fall from the Tops to the Snowy, and to the East is the open timber of the Paralyser Mountain, giving steeper and longer protected running than in the Perisher area.
Developments at Guthega indicate the probability of the road being kept open throughout the winter right to the Dam. The large electric tow on Tate East Ridge offers practice running.
When accommodation is available at Illawong, non-members (who must normally be accompanied by a member) may stay there for £12.10.0 per week, including basic food. For members, the weekly tariff with food is only £8, and they have first preference in booking. In addition they have second preference and considerable tariff reductions at each of the other Ski Tourers Association Projects. These are Roslyn Lodge at Thredbo, Kareela Lodge at the top of the chair-lift and Albina Lodge near Townsend.
For only £25, a foundation member of Illawong buys into an asset worth several thousand pounds in an area that should have the greatest appeal to bushwalker skiers and mountaineers.
Members are normally expected to take an interest in their Lodge by doing that they can while in residence, and also by helping to get in the stores and fuel each Anniversary Weekend. They also organise and attend where possible working parties for necessary maintenance and cleaning at Christmas, New Year and Easter holidays.
Illawong so far has only about 40 members, many of whom do not often use the Lodge, so there is plenty of scope for S.B.W. complete party winter bookings. A boat is owned that is located on Guthega Dam for supply purposes or summer fishing. So far about 9 or more S.B.W.'s look like becoming members and about 20 to 30 members have either stayed there or looked it over and found it to their liking.
Make out your £25 cheque or Money Order payable to ILLAWONG SKI LODGE PROJECT and post it with covering letter to MR. BRIAN SPROD, C/- J.R. TURNER & CO. Pty. Ltd., 80 Parramatta Road, Camperdown.
The covering letter should give your name, address and phone number and indicate that you are a member of the Sydney Bushwalkers Club and wish to apply for foundation membership of Illawong Ski Lodge.
A similar letter should be sent at the same time to the president of Ski Tourers Association, C.L ANTON, LUMLEY'S, 263 George Street, Sydney. This second letter gives your name, address and phone number, and notifies that you have sent in foundation membership fee and application for ILLAWONG membership and requests that your name be included in the list for forwarding of notices, information, meetings and preferential booking forms etc. in relation to ILLAWONG.
The president of ILLAWONG LODGE is MR. JOHN TURNER, KHANCOBAN, N.S.W., VIA CORRYONG, VICTORIA (letters take about a week).
Always write ahead to him before going to the Lodge either in winter or for any of the working parties or for a summer fishing holiday. John co-ordinates all Lodge usage and activities. He is sometimes located at C/- MR. C. LEICKE, 11 CREEK STREET, COOMA, and this is a suitable place to enquire his whereabouts, most especially in conjunction with working party activities.
The Lodge may not be used without John Turner's knowledge and permission. Tariff charges for any usage are always promptly payable to Mr. Sprod. There are strict rules of Lodge operation to minimise danger, damage, unnecessary depletion of stores and fuel, in order to preserve the Lodge and its facilities and prevent loss of revenue.
Illawong Lodge is constituted as a non-profit organisation of members. When in residence they do their own cooking and cleaning. No staff is employed. Sleeping bags and pillowslips or approved type YH sleeping sheets have to be taken in to be used in conjunftion with Lodge blankets. Inner spring mattress beds have curtains for privacy, and the floor is carpeted. Modern style kitchen, hot showers, inside septic toilet, electric light, heating and drying facilities and double picture-windowed lounge and many other features add to make a most comfortable lodge.
Any further information regarding ILLAWONG LODGE may be obtained from FRANK LEYDEN.
11th - 12th February 1961
The Organisers have had a busy time “lurjing” out the details. An interesting weekend is assured.
Intending competitors and their vehicles should assemble at Strathfield Square (South side Strathfield Station) and be ready to start at 1.00 p m. on Saturday, 11th February. You may have to park in Churchill Avenue, which is nearby. Instructions will be issued at the starting point. Cars will be despatched at 2 minute intervals.
A charge of 2/- per person will be made to cover the cost of the organisers' drinks - sorry, read cost of trophies and Saturday night's camping fee instead of organisers' drinks. The charge will not include Sunday lunchtime parking fee of 2/- per car. The camp site will be about a mile above the N.P.A. Australia Day Camp. These charges are for the use of organised camping and picnic facilities, which are somewhat more convenient, and less overgrown, than the natural camping spots in this particular area. Excellent river bathing at both spots, fireplaces, firewood and tent poles provided. The organisers trust that the mere mention of organised camping facilities will not scare away those opposed to such places, as the selected spot has considerable natural beauty.
Maps required are Gregorys or Robinsons Sydney and Suburban Directory, Broken Bay, Windsor and St. Alban's Military Maps, if you have them, otherwise 100 Miles Around Sydney or the N.R.M.A. Touring Grounds Around Sydney.
DO NOT SPEED ! There is no time limit. In fact 20 M.P.H. will be quite fast enough between Strathfield and Parramatta. There are many clues in this sector. The total mileage will be about 150 over fair roads, unsuitable for speeding, and including one “horror” stretch, which gave the organisers no trouble when tackled in low gear.
If you do not have a car and wish to attend, notify the organisers and every effort will be made to secure a seat for you.
CAR OWNERS. The organisers will be pleased to know whether you are coming as soon as you have made up your mind, how many guests you have, and how many seats you can make available.
Jim Brown, David Ingram Hon. Organisers.
Late News Admiral Anderson has escaped from house building to join the Organising Party and add confusion. to the above event.
By “Social Reporter”.
Irene Pridham (Friday night) and Jack Gentle (Saturday morning) succeeded in getting their respective parties to Burning Palms Beach. When all comers had arrived and the tents had been erected, the following were encamped in the usual spot:
Bob and Christa Younger, Ian, David and Julia. Helen McMaugh and her friend Joan Meaker (sherry plus chicken dinners in the Ranger's Hut) Jack and Barham Gentle. Bill and Ruby Hall, Peter and Fiona. Bruce and Kath McInnes and Debbie. Gladys Roberts and Auriel Mitchell. Audrey Kenway and Denise Hull, Frank and Jean Ashdown, Edna Stretton, Irene Pridham, Greg Greggan, Alan Round, Jack Wren, Walter Tarr, David Ingram, Bob Standen, Coral Kennard, and Michael Gibbons.
Jack Perry paid a visit on Sunday when Tarro's thermometer was registering 103°. The surf was excellent but the beach a bit too warm during the midday hours. Bob Godfrey and Robin (now a very shy young miss) came round from Era to call on us. Quite 'a few Club members were reported to be camped at Era in rather crowded conditions, but were not sighted during the weekend.
All campers voted the weekend very enjoyable and relaxing.
We announce with regret the death of Jim Hooper, drowned in the Williams River when attempting to save a member of a guest house party.
Jim had been the driving force of S&R and had given pleasure to many with his original movies of Bushwalkers and their antics.
He will be sadly missed.
By Special Correspondent.
Following a report by an anxious wife-and-mother that her husband and son were two days overdue on a four day trip down the Grose River from Blackheath to Richmond, the S&R went into action on Wednesday evening, 1st February. Heather Joyce informed Contact Men in other Clubs and, with Paddy, made search plans at the Clubroom, with Brian Harvey to act as Telephone Contact at his home during the operations.
Parties checked out at 3.30 am Thursday, Party “A” working upstream from Yarramundi with a distant Party “D” in from Govetts Leap downstream. Party “C” proceeded down the Faulconbridge Ridge to mid-Grose, with the intention that “B” would go up towards Blue Gum to meet “D” and “C” down towards Richmond to meet “A”.
The overdue bods were come upon by Party “A” about 8.30 am under Grose Vale Lookout, father having a sprained knee and quite unconcerned that his son was two days adrift from re-starting school. Two runners raced upstream to the Faulconbridge Track junction just in time to halt “B” and “C” from starting out after an early lunch, thus preventing “B” from engaging on an interesting unofficial Test Walk (roughest country in the state)! Station 2KA very kindly co-operated by broadcasting recall messages to those carrying transistor radios, but Wilf Hilder had a hard bash down to Tomah Creek and back for nothing. Anyway he has long legs, meant for walking on !
By A. Theakston.
An orderly Boxing Day en route with chicken and Rhine-gold to boot soon came to an end in a blaze of glory when the flotsam of the new morn brought shark for breakfast and the thought of the disorderly spectacle we cast for Australia is truly a land of contrast.
By mute threats and muttered indecisions amidst heat and discontent our leader from the rear did lead us to a lagoon off Murrumburra Beach. Two glorious nights, two glorious days basking and swimming in hot and cold pools eating oysters, catching fish, Derek's monster, Beverly so chic! Gesila so dark, Margo and Stan so bright red, dried vegs and ugh - nutmeat all in the shadow of the Bull and Cow reef.
Our backs and shoulders were brindle and red so off to Pretty Beach with its shop and its girls then under the stars did everyone bed. The water was cold, the rocks hot and hard fossils gazed up out of sightless eyes onward we went, as you please after spending some time eating the rind of car Tassie cheese.
A Hollywood jungle we did find a garden of Eden except for the flies crab for supper, stingray for breakfast who knows what beyond tomorrow lays.
Our little Napolean craved by now to have us all numbered or wow ! made her greatest mistake to wit “Walk two miles and no more, so be it”. The wrath of the Bushies is slow to take hold still, she was led underwater to behold a shark and a stingray which in their turn gave contemptuous glares in which she did burn only one thing was wrong, neither wanted her eighter.
At Pebbly Beach we were met by a reception a ranger full of awkward questions and soon New Year's Eve was being spent in the usual way with heads bent over a mug of punch and a hissing brown serpent.
New Year's Day came in a burst of glory the stars went out and it became quite gory the -water was frigid, only the English could stand it So we walked out until Depot Beach seemed far behind Ahead, a cold wet night and a dry sawmill.
By Keith Renwick.
In the course of climbing out I was invited to join Michael and Gilly, who had a Simca stationwagon, for a few days visiting the scenic attractions of the area. This was a very lucky break. There is definitely only one real way to see America and this is by car. The whole country is geared for this type of transport and it's the only way to get to many places, scenic spots and camping areas alike.
That night we camped at Desert View which is the furthest east of the Grand Canyon Lookout points, from which you look west and north along the canyon and east out over the painted desert and Indian Country, which is at a slightly lower level than the rest of the Grand Canyon Plateau area. We spent most of the morning admiring the view and visiting a reproduction of a Hopi Tower which, when new, are used as combined lookout tower food storage place and fort. This one, apart from the commanding view from the top, is used as a museum with many Indian paintings and relics. They are quite big structures of stone and mud construction about 4 stories high, round and slightly tapering from the bottom to the top. Inside they had floors which had a hole in the middle which in the old days provided access to the floor by means of a ladder. In times of seige these ladders were pulled up and the fort defended from the inside by means of the hole in the floor.
Travelling South East from Desert View toward Cameron we came to a small notice pointing along a side road to a lookout overlooking the Little Colorado River, obviously some small side stream, but we thought we might as well have a look anyway. After you leave the car you walk a few yards out to the drop only to find it a false lip and after scrambling down this you go out to the cliff edge in front only to find it's another false lip and so on until you begin to wonder just where the edge is. Suddenly you're there and are looking 3,000 to 4,000 ft vertically downward into a canyon only a few hundred feet wide with a roaring brown river at the bottom. A couple of steps further forward a “slight” step down and you'd have wet feet!
After regathering our gulps we boarded the car and headed to Cameron and south to Wupatki National Monument and the Citadel. These are ancient Indian Pueblo remains of Indians who inhabited the area after the eruption of Sunset Crater volcano (nearby) in 1064 AD. They were attracted by the rich volcanic soil and developed quite a high standard of living before being driven out by a 30-year drought at the end of the 1200 ADs. Prior to the eruption of the volcano the Indians who had been in this area before lived in pit dwellings.
These dwellings (only the walls still standing) were built of flat slabs of rock stacked on top of each other and reached a height of several stories in some places, the cracks being filled in with mud and clay. They cultivated crops in shallow depressions filled with volcanic ash soil which gathered and held what little moisture there was, because even in those times it was semi desert. Pottery and basketry also were well practised arts. Rocky outcrops of sedimentary rocks provided the flagging for the buildings but in between these rocky outcrops was rich red volcanic soil broken down from the ash and pumice thrown out by the explosive eruption of the volcano. There was no lava flow.
As we got in near to the volcano, which protrudes about 1,000 ft above the plateau floor in a perfect cone, the small nut size rocks changed to jet black and covered the entire scene (it was much like coke to look at). We climbed Sunset crater and it lives up to its name, with a jet black foreground and a blood red sunset over the painted desert.
We moved on further by car that night before we camped; and awoke the next morning at Oak Creek Canyon south of Flagstaff. It is a large yellow sandstone bed and all weathered out by the action of the river and rain to a depth of a couple of thousand feet. What really sets it off is the rich green vegetation against the red sandstone. We spent some time walking around and driving through the canyon, then headed north west to Walnut Canyon National Monument. It is a small narrow canyon a couple of hundred feet deep in the white sandstone/limestone mentioned previously. In the overhanging ledges, the cliff dwelling Indians, of the same time as the Pueblo Indians at Wupatki, built their stone and clay dwelling houses. Once again the park was spendidly laid out with free booklets and a track to follow which had numbered pegs on it. The vegetation in the canyon was roughly similar to that around Sydney, and the mountains; a relatively dry climate with sandy soil giving a predominately spiny vegetation on the ridges with a lush growth in the sheltered creek beds. There was of course a large variety and most of them had pegs in front of them, while the description in the book told what the plant was, a bit about it and, most interesting of all, what the Indians used it for. They sure were clued up on using things around them. Once again they reached a relatively high standard of living with beautiful pottery and basketwork.
Their homes were made by stacking up flat slabby stones in front of these overhangs and at the ends. They had one small door opening about 3 feet high 17-18“ thick and perhaps a small window high up about 1 foot square. Possibly also to let the smoke out as the roofs of the caves were well blackened. Everyone lived as one big happy family, so to speak, all sharing the one room. However these people also suffered the hand of drought and eventually had to move on as the water supplies failed. This was the same 30 year drought that affected their contemporaries further north at the end of the 1200's.
The Petrified Forest is a long way further east than Walnut Canyon and we got there late in the afternoon only an hour or so before it shut. In order to keep a check on the souvenir hunters, which America is full of, they have this Park completely fenced around with a high wirenetting fence, etc, with a gate at each end (about 5-10 miles apart) and a road through it. This road isn't fenced and you can wander freely from it, but the whole lot is closed up at night. There are guards apt to search your car, though not always, at each end. Once again they had a very well planned information office-cum-museum Which tells about all there is to know about the forest. There is also of course plenty of free and purchasable booklets.
At one time in the early geological history of the U.S.A. there were great forests 90 to 100 miles to the west. As the trees died they were carried East to a great flood plain where they were quickly buried with sediments and eventually covered to a depth of 3,000 feet. As this was going on, silica (like quartz) in the sedimentary deposits was slowly being dissolved and redeposited inside the small cells and pores of the wood. Then as the wood gradually rotted away all that was left was the stone.
Then the great Rocky Mountain uplift started, pulling this area up with it. Gradually all the accumulated deposits were eroded from the surface until today where these deposits are once again exposed to view.
We just got out of the north end in time and went a few miles north to a lookout and a sunset over the painted desert again. (The painted desert is a pretty large area.)
That night we drove a long way further south west headed for Carlsbad Caverns. It was full moon and bitterly cold. We were very surprised to find that even though we were on a high plateau 6,000 to 7,000 feet above sea level there were still high mountains around us, many with snow on, rising to 10,000 to 12,000 feet above sea level. Mostly the hills and mountains were wooded with pine forests (except the top) but the flat plains in between were just brown grass land. We camped that night just over a 7,000 feet pass. On again in the morning then in the afternoon we came over the rim of a large sunken valley and down past the rocket launching establishments of White Sands. Curses, they didn't let any rockets off for us! In the middle of the valley floor is White Sands National Monument.
This is a lot of windblown sandhills of Gypsum or Calcium Sulphate and is the by-product of the weathering of large selenite crystals in the mountains nearby. Once again they have a museum, continous films, free booklets and numbered pegs but you have to drive round this time as it is so big (16 miles round trip). Of course you can get out and walk around as the many bare footprints on the hills testify. The hills are continually on the move so that they have to keep making the road but as this is gypsum surfaced it is no real problem. This shift is fairly slow because along the edge where vegetation of sorts grows, it just keeps lengthening its roots as the hill slowly rises about them and in this way keeps on top. However when the hill moves on the roots are unclothed again and stand naked several feet above the floor of the valley.
People of course write their names in the sand: however, this is one place where it doesn't really matter because it all gets blown out again with the next wind !
It's a long way from White Sands to Carlsbad Caves but we reached there early in the morning to find large notices about no camping in the park, so we camped just outside the park at the front gate.
The area around here is a very dry, rocky desert regeion with limestone and sandstone outcrops along narrow gullies which were former creek beds. It is all part of a small plateau and the roadway follows one of these dry creek beds, eventually emerging out on the plateau edge which drops steeply away several hundred feet to a flat desert plain below. The vegetation is mostly cacti and other desert plants. Right near the edge of this plateau is an enormous new building housing all the park facilities and administration centre. This building is about the size of a small university. They have restaurants, souvenir shops, museum, living quarters for the staff, waiting hall and many other facilities including the top outlet of the lifts from the “Big Room”.
(To be continued)