A monthly bulletin of natters of interest to the Sydney Bush Walkers, Box 4476, G.P.O. Sydney, N.S.W. 2001. Club meetings are held every Wednesday evening from 7.30 p.m. at the Wireless Institute Building, 14 Atchison Street, St. Leonards. Enquiries concerning the Club should be referred to Mrs. Marcia Shappert - tel 30. 2028.
|Editor||Neville Page. 14 Brucedale Ave, Epping. Telephone 86.3739.|
|Business Manager||Bill Burke. 3 Coral Tree Drive, Carlingford. Telephone 871.1207.|
|Duplicator Operators||Peter Scandrett, Owen Marks, George Gray.|
|High Camps on the Blue Breaks||Spiro Hajinakitas||3|
|The August General Meeting||Jim Brown||7|
|A Journey Into The Austrian Alps||Peter Harris||10|
|A Strategic Plan for the Reclamation of the Gulf of Carpentaria||Owen Marks||13|
|Bushwalker Bob||Len Newland||18|
|Walks Notes||Len Newland||18|
|Federation Notes||John Redfern||20|
We all live our lives according to certain codes of behaviour related to our own personal philosophies. To some, the Golden Rule of Life is that there is no Golden rule, that if life is to experienced to the full we should not be hampered by hard and fast rules, and that any rules should be flexible enough to adapt to changing circumstances. There is some logic to this, but I think for most bushwalkers and conservationists there are some rules which cannot be bent. The following quotation from Lyndon B. Johnson's “Message to Congress” delivered on 23rd. April 1966, embraces many of the points which we might well include in our personal Golden Rule of Life.
“Conservation is ethically sound. It is rooted in our love of the land, our respect for the rights of others, our devotion to the rule of law. Let us proclaim a creed to preserve our natural heritage with rights and the duties to respect those rights:- The right to clean water - and the duty not to pollute it. - The right to clean air - and the duty not to befoul it. - The right to surroundings reasonably free from man-made ugliness - and the duty not to blight. - The right of easy access to places of beauty and tranquility where every family can find recreation and refreshment - and the duty to preserve such places clean and unspoiled. - The right to enjoy plants and animals in their natural habitats - and the duty not to eliminate them from the face of this earth.
by Spiro Hajinakitas.
All fifteen starters on David Rostron's Anzac Week-end trip to the Blue Breaks were instructed to come prepared for a long hard walk. All were told to bring along a light pack, frameless at that(why carry a frame?), no tents as the weather was to be, without a doubt, fine and sunny with mild nights. In the event of the unthinkable occurring, i.e. should it rain one night, we could all squeeze under either David's or Don's tent flies. Also as it was anticipated that the Saturday night camp on top of the Axe Head Range was to be a dry camp, we were instructed to bring along a water bottle. In fact David planned that every camp we pitched was to be on top of some mountain or other.
At long last the long-awaited week-end lay looming before us, and after a slow, bumpy ride along the Kanangra Road through thick thawing fog we parked our cars, and as each car load became ready, set off into the dark night, torches sparkling. At about Mt. Maxwell we lost the track and spread out in order to re-establish the group onto the right track. Not far ahead we could see the torches of another small group coming back towards us. They also were having difficulty finding the track. This group, with their hooded parkas or their dark balaclavas over their heads, their torches glowing, resembled the Hollywood version of the Klu Klux Klan. Eventually the track was descried and once again we set off at a quick pace, most of us managing to avoid soiling our socks through the muddy spots.
Our first high camp of the trip, the Coal Seam Cave, was reached at about midnight, and we settled down for a restful night's sleep, only to be disturbed 20 minutes later by the deliberate, distasteful discord of Bob and Owen's rendition of highlights from “The Sound of Music” (with “Climb Every Mountain” featuring as top bill) as they ran down the track. This enforced concert was not well received by the awakened sleepers, except for Snow Brown who burst out in uncontrollable laughter. And for the benefit of those who know not, Snow and his Spouse Clarrie, together with their matron-of-honour Barbara, used to sing the same tune every time they drove up or climbed up any mountain in Wales, Scotland and Norway, and they would have kept up this behaviour but for the fact that they ran out of hills in Holland.
After an early breakfast we moved off down the Gingra track and down the Bull Head Range and Cambage Spire to the Kowmung, the forebearers arriving before 9.00 a.m., and as a result a couple of large billies of the inevitable Twining's tea were ready and waiting for the tailenders. And what a more suitable time for Snow to pass around Clarrie's delicious fruit cake and at the same time confess to the sin of carrying lots of tinned fruit this trip, because of the dry camp, you understand. This of course sparked off the time honoured practice of comparing pack weights and if my memory is correct Dorothy Butler had the lightest and Faizly Read and Pat McBride the heaviest. Morning tea dispensed with the party crossed the rapidly flowing Kowmung and proceeded up the nose of the nearest ridge, and after a steady, steep slog and a pleasantly peaceful plateau procession we emerged upon the Scott's Main Range road. As promised by our leader the weather was fine and sunny and the views of Tiwilla Buttress and the Gangerang Mountains behind us were quite spectacular. At the Butcher's Creek crossing we stopped for lunch and a few people placed their sweaty shirts on the dirt road in the sun to dry. These had to be hurriedly removed when a four-wheel drive vehicle approached.
We continued on down the road past the Water Board's hut at Byrne's Gap and began the hot, steep climb up the southern tip of the Axe Head Range, those with water bottles having filled up beforehand. When we completed our climb we were rewarded for our efforts with magnificent panoramic vistas of the Burragorang Walls to the east with the sun adding a shimmering metallic gold touch to the imposing bluffs, and to the west a truly beautiful view of the Blue Mountains stretching as far as the eye can see. Some of the group objected to the dry camp; although most of us carried water it became apparent that additional water would be difficult to find. So a vote was taken and three-quarters of the party decided the issue by opting for a high camp. Our leader, who had his heart set on seeing the sun rise from our high vantage point, was very pleased, and although we all shared his idealistic sentiments, I suspect some who voted for remaining high did so as the thought of continuing further that day was not welcomed.
A not too comfortable hollow was established as our camp site and three or four retraced their steps to a seeping mud hole a couple of kilometres away to fetch water whilst Wade Butler descended a cliff to collect a wine cask of water. As a result of these fine efforts the party now had sufficient water. A remarkable variety and amount of food was produced from our light weight packs and after dinner we leisurely sipped our Turkish coffee and our hot rum and grapefruit drinks whilst Wade enlightened us with his vast knowledge of the Solar System, pointing out stars, planets and constellations and indicating methods of direction and time telling geometrical equations, all with a casual ease and modesty that secured our total admiration.
In the morning some of the party arose early to view the sun rise. Below us thick clouds of mist blanketed the valleys leaving the hilltops exposed like islands in a foggy sea. We all agreed that camping high out of the mist was indeed a master stroke. Eventually the glowing sun rose fully above the distant mountains and its red radiating rays spread over the landscape. Lazy bushwalkers stirred in their sleeping bags, small birds whistled and played in the tree tops, the active hustle and bustle indicating the start of another day.
Spasmodically the party moved off after breakfast and rejoined at the exposed cleft in the bread-knife-type ridge, an interesting and spectacular feature of the Axe Head Range. Were we all together? Where's Dorothy? We waited and called but to no avail. David expressed concern that Dorothy may have met with an accident so he organised two search parties, one to forge ahead in case she had continued on, and another three people to return to the last place we had seen her. David, Wade and I made up the rear search party and we hurried off retracing our steps, trying to keep up with Wade as he nimbly floated over the rocky outcrops. Alas, Dorothy was no where to be seen. On the way back to the Bread Knife we decided to sidle around the left side of the ridge as it was possible that our missing friend may have taken this route. This time our efforts were rewarded. An elegant footprint in the dust, which Wade identified as his mother's, was discovered and very soon another!
With lighter hearts and smiling faces we quickly followed along the wombat sidling track until we could shout to the others above of what we had seen. The others acknowledged our shouts and at a suitable break in the cliffs we ascended and headed out to the end of the range. By this time Dorothy's high soprano “dah-oh” was heard and in a few moments we came upon her nonchalantly leaning against a tree waiting for us. Snow Brown rushed up to her and gave her a few bear-hug jumps, shouting “You're alive, you're alive!” “Of course I'm alive, Snow, what's all the excitement?”
We descended to Green Wattle Creek, half the party had a quick cup of tea whilst the other half started off up the creek. Again it was a glorious day, but as we had a long way to go before lunch, we put out the fire and raced off after the advance party. The clear fresh mountain creek water swished and swirled around the creek's many bends, over its countless rocks and occasionally came to rest and formed small swimming holes. Then, its vigour renewed, bubbling and bouncing continued on its spirited journey.
We ascended to the Broken Rock Range after lunch. This time there was no need to carry water as we were aware that water was available on top. The view from our final high camp was indeed beautiful.
The next morning we had an early start and we made very good time down to Butcher's Creek, up to Scott's Main Range, down the road to the Kowmung, at the Gingra Creek junction for an early lunch and a swim in the very cold water. Our next stop was to be afternoon tea at the Coal Seam Cave and we all anticipated a long hot climb along the 14 or so kilometre Gingra Track. Fortunately for us, a very welcome cool breeze came up just after we started off, making our climb quite pleasant. We shared out our left-over goodies over afternoon tea, then made our way to the tops.
On the way back to Kanangra we stopped for a last look at the Blue Breaks. Both the Broken Rock Range and Axe Head Mountain were prominently in view, even the cleft in the Axe Head Range easily distinguishable, and all framed with a background of the Burragorang Walls. All so aesthetic, so grand, so peaceful…. yet we were there…. we were there.
Lightweight bushwalking and camp gear.
All 'Paddymade' tents are made with utmost care to stand up to rigorous conditions. They are supplied with nylon cords and have overlapped doors at both ends.
The Nadgee tent, of standard green Jarpara, is similar to the famous 'Era' model, but 7'6” in length (6 inches longer than the standard 3 man tent) and with zip doors. The De-Luxe Nadgee tent offers the bonus of Stormtite Japara and sewn in nylon floor; closed on one end with vent and hood cover, sewn-in mosquito net with zip opening, and zipped door closure. 7'6“ x 5' x 4'6”.
This 'shaped' rucksack is excellent for children. Useful day pack. Weight 14 ozs.
A single pocket, shaped rucksack. Suitable for overnight camping. Weight 1 1/2 lbs.
Have sewn-in curved bottom for extra comfort in carrying. Will hold 30 lbs. 2 pocket model 1 1/4 lbs. 3 pocket model 1 1/2 lbs.
Is an extra large bag with four external pockets and will carry about 40 lbs of camp gear. Weight 2 1/2 lbs.
Hooded bag. Extra well filled. Very compact. Approx 3 1/4 lbs.
Super warm box quilted. Added leg room. Approx 4 1/2 lbs.
Half the weight and packed size of regular bags. 9“ x 5 1/2” dia. 2 lbs.
Everything for the bushwalker, from blankets and air mattresses, stretchers, boots, compasses, maps, books, stoves and lamps to cooking ware and freeze dried and dehydrated foods.
Paddy Pallin 69 Liverpool St., Sydney. 26-2686, 61-7215.
by Jim Brown.
It would be interesting to know the antonym to “Indian Summer”, because that's what prevailed at the time of the August General Meeting. Usually one can hope that by mid-August the worst of winter is past, but Wednesday, 11th August, was uncommonly bleak, coming just after a weekend when 30 cars which had driven up to Perisher Valley were ice-bound, while the following weekend saw heavy snowfalls on our local Blue Mountains.
Maybe that chill deterred some of the five new members admitted at the August Committee Meeting, as Ronald Griffin was the only one to be formally welcomed. Also attendance at just over 30 was pretty well down. From the July Minutes no matters arose, and in Correspondence practically the only items apart from the usual circulars, bulletins and magazines, was an advice from Federation of the new office bearers, and a letter from old-hand member Joe Turner, putting forward some thoughts for the Club's Half-Century celebrations next year.
The financial statement showed a smallish upward movement to a closing balance of $1732 in the current accounts, and we moved along to the Federation report presented by Len Newland. Material from this has appeared in the August magazine, but one of the items read was a draft policy on the usage of wilderness areas prepared by Federation's Conservation people, and this confined its thinking to the attitude of walkers in such places. This standpoint was discussed and we agreed our delegates should voice an opinion on the usage of wilderness by other groups and should oppose entry by powered vehicles or boats.
Now it was Walks Report time, beginning with Peter Miller's foray into the Wentworth Creek - Mt. Hay road country. They reversed the advertised route, and commenced from Lawson, experienced frozen tents and negotiated some rather scrubby patches before picking up the Rocklily Ridge road. Of the two day walks on 18th July, Roy Braithwaite reported laconically “nice day, no trouble” of the Cowan - Porto Bay - Brooklyn trip, while Ray Carter out on Neram Ridge, Polona Brook and along to Otford reported 20 starters, soggy tracks, but nothing eventful.
Of the following (July 23-25) weekend, Helen Rowan told us Jim Vatiliotis' skiing trip attracted 7 people, there was not a great deal of snow, and camp below the snow line was made adjacent to the old Waste Point camping area. Out in the Wild Dogs, Ron Knightley led his walk as a modern Duke of Plaza Toro, and from his rearguard position called it a “dull walk” although the 4 prospectives in the total of 13 “completed the trip satisfactorily”. Again there were two Sunday trips on 25th July, John Holly guiding 20 up Campfire Creek and out to Mt. Portal (“spring flowers were coming out nicely”), and Tony Denham took eleven folk along the lantana and blackberry lined trail near the coast between Stanwell Park and Werong.
For the July 30 - August 1 weekend, the Friday night / Guouogang programmed trip failed for starters, but a total of 38 were on the day walks, 15 with Len Newland on Upper Glenbrook Creek, which proved scrubby and rather slow going after getting past the house built across the top of the track, they returned via the Victory track into Faulconbridge. On Meryl Watman's National Park trip there were 23, a pleasant trip with early return under rather windy conditions.
Tom Wenman took his Kanangra - Gingra Creek trip with 12 people over the August 6/8 weekend, and Fazely Read reported icy conditions, but a pleasant walk. The Coxs River exploratory trip was cancelled, and on Joe Marton's day walk a largish team of 20 took quite a time to get down the chains and other steep spots on Walls Pass: thus they finished in moonlight and turbulent wind at about 6.0 p.m. at the head of the Golden Stairs.
General Business contained some discussion on the land overlooking Coolana, where the Illawarra Grammar School is seeking occupancy of a strip of land along the escarpment to set up a camping area with permanent amenities block. Because of the prospect that our water supply may be fouled, and the problem of ensuring that access to the river across the Faunal Reserve incorporating our ground would not disturb the natural conditions, misgivings as to such a neighbour were voiced. A meeting with other adjoining land owners is to be held on 20th August after which a joint view will be given to the Lands Dept. Finally there was some debate on a request to enclose in our magazine a catalogue of camping gear available from one of the manufacturing firms, the question being unresolved when we closed the evening's deliberations at 9.25 p.m.
Dinner before the next General Meeting on 13th. October will be at the Tea House Inn, Pacific Highway Crows Nest. (very close to the main intersection). Meet there at 6.00 p.m. Chinese food.
Box 553 P.O., Christchurch, New Zealand.
We have a prompt mail order service to Australian customers - free postage on all orders. Below is a list of some of the gear we stock - prices quoted in New Zealand dollars (NZ $1 = A $0.83). We prefer payment by bank draft in New Zealand currency.
|Typhoon Oilskin parkas - standard model||21.00|
|Typhoon Oilskin parkas - deluxe model||24.00|
|Cagoules, neoprene-coated nylon||18.40|
|Zip parkas, neoprene-coated nylon||23.00|
|Long woollen socks||4.50|
|Short woollen socks||2.75|
|Jumpers, 100% natural black greasy wool||20.00|
|Jumpers, pure wool, fair-isle patterns||19.00|
|Balaclavas, pure wool||2.40|
|Hats, pure wool, fair-isle patterns||2.45|
|Light woollen shirts, check patterns||9.50|
|Ranger, heavy wool shirts, check patterns||14.50|
|Mountaineer,heavy wool shirts, checks and tartans||17.00|
|Trousers, woollen tweed||14.50|
|Day sacks, from||15.00|
|K-2 double wall tents||94.00|
|K-2 special medium rucksacks||72.00|
|K-2 special large rucksacks||74.00|
|K-2 standard medium rucksacks||69.00|
|K-2 standard large rucksacks||70.00|
|K-2 Intermediate rucksacks||55.00|
|K-2 Junior rucksacks||42.00|
|K-2 Bivouac rucksacks||16.75|
|K-2 Aarn I climbing and ski-touring pack||58.50|
|K-2 Aarn II pack||51.00|
|Wintest nylon tents from||37.00|
|Mountain Mule Rucksacks:|
|Featherlite standard - large||58.00|
|Heavy Duty standard||61.00|
|Heavy Duty super||67.50|
|Fairydown Everest sleeping bags||prices on application|
|Everest Mummy sleeping bags||prices on application|
|Twenty Below sleeping bags||prices on application|
|Explorer sleeping bags||prices on application|
And much more - write for a price list (Address above).
by Peter Harris.
For many years the romantic tales and stories of adventures in the European Alps held me in the grip of fascination. And with fascination came a longing to see this wonderful range of mountains to explore its alpine meadows roam across its heathland where the wildflowers in Spring are like a colourful, magic carpet underfoot; to climb its many snow-capped peaks and from their summits to see most of Europe.
If somebody had foretold of my trip through Austria in June, 1976, I would have laughed and presented all sorts of logical and viable excuses as to why I would never be there. Business. Job. No money. No time. Too many bills. Car upkeep. Too involved with N.P.A. Too much trouble. Can't speak German. The budgerigar pet is getting old. Well, that's all in the past. I went the whole way, and spent over 8 months walking and climbing in New Zealand, Tasmania, Nepal's Himalayas, India, England, Scotland and Europe, but they're all very long stories. Perhaps you'll hear of them sometime too. But not now.
We begin this tale at Innsbruck, in western Austria, and skiing centre of the world. Here, annually, thousands of people and skiers alike, throng Innsbruck's tiny old streets and courtyards to witness the Winter Olympics. A spectacle incomprehensible to most Australians. But I did not go to compete in the Winter Olympics. Nor to watch them with eyes riveted to binoculars like butter to bread. The many pretty girls which throng Innsbruck's Old Section can provide sufficient excuses not to go mountaineering, but then you can't have your cake and eat it too, so it is with reluctance that one boards train and bus to travel to the romantic mountain village of Gschnitz.
Here, our party of 10 persons entered the colourful Gastof Berghof to sample good German Beer and Apel Strudel amongst congenial Austrian company and hospitality. But it couldn't last, and soon we had to don packs and ice-axes and plod up the road for a few hundred yards to the signposted track to the Innsbrucke Hut.
One facet about mountaineering in Europe not previously mentioned is the degree of commercialisation in the mountains. Not offensive commercialisation but purely convenient. There is an excellent system of mountain huts run by the various European Alpine Clubs. All of these have resident caretakers (usually retired guides with their wives and families), and provide bed accommodation either in dormitory style or private bedroom, washing and toilet facilities, and most important meals. And most welcome - beer. So that if you take all food and sleeping gear out of your pack, you are left with very little to carry indeed. A 20 lb. pack is considered very excessive for a four week trip into the Stubaital or Urtzal Alps of Austria. The chief weight usually comprises wet and cold weather gear, ice-axe, crampons, karabiners and rope. And if you throw your camera off a cliff on the first day, like I did, you don't even have any photographic weight to tote around.
Where was I? Oh yes, at Gschnitz. From Gschnitz we plodded up a zig-zag track for 4500 feet to the Innsbrucke Hut. All around are the majestic peaks of the Austro-Italian Alps, partly snow or glacier covered, with sharp gullies and deep valleys. And on this first day is the introduction to the Austrian Cow.
The Austrian cow is a beautiful animal. Unlike Australian cows which are ugly and stupid, the Austrian cow is almost harmonious to the Alps, and the sad expression on their faces makes you feel like reaching for your handkerchief, and sharing their sorrow.
At the Innsbrucke Hut at day's end, and after searching for the pieces of my Canon FTBQL and weeping and wailing (no gnashing of teeth), we settled around the huge table in the kitchen and ordered beer, apfelsalf (like apple cider) and skivasser (like a raspberry drink). Our meal, and many more to follow, was the traditional mountain dish, Bergsteigeresse, which is like a jumbled mess of all last night's leftovers, but very tasty indeed.
With electric lighting in the hut we were able to sit around the kitchen and play cards or “Master Mind” (which is an English game) and mix with other intrepid mountaineers - mostly Germans. The Germans throng the Austrian Alps and their distinctive dress of climbing breeches, colourful socks, red checked shirts, braces, boots and alpine hats (always adorned with a feather) makes them easily d5stinguished. It is amazing how soon one begins to talk in German. First you learn the basics of the language, sentence construction, a very elementary vocabulary, and then with practice you are away. We had many pleasant, if not always understandable, conversations with German-speaking climbers.
On the following morning we attempted the Wetter Spitz, but very loose and dangerous rock eliminated all but three people who reached the top with difficulty, only to be greeted by a major snow storm. The Bremer Spitz was also climbed with little effort before arrival at the small Bremer Hut for bed, tea and several well-deserved ales.
In the next few days our route took us to the Nuremberger Hut, with several long day trips to the summit of the Wilder Freiger on the Austro-Italian border. It is a beautiful climb on glaciers and crevassed snow with one small section of steep ice requiring ice screws and belay. I refused to be on a single rope with 9 other people, most of whom were relatively inexperienced, and elected to cross the crevassed area solo, trusting my knowledge of ice-axes to guide me out of crevasse lines. This method is not recommended.
I don't wish to describe the views from the peaks, as any description is nearly always an understatement, and there is no substitute for actually being at the place, experiencing the same superb, clear weather condition.
From the Nurembergor Hut a very long day took us via the Mair Spitz Pass to the Dresdner Hut below a glorious conical peak named the Shallffel Spitz. Both the Hair spitz and the Shauffel Spitz were climbed as was the Stubai Wetter Spitz.
One very distressing thing occurred on the descent of the Shauffel Spitz. After an exhilerating rock climb with vistas stretching to Italy and Switzerland, we descended to be greeted by hordes of tourists who ascended by means of a ski-tow. Thus it was with some feeling of intrusion and rather cruel superiority that we etched our boots into the ski-ing piece for 2500 feet of descent. I was rather glad that my knowledge of German did not extend to swear words, as the anger of the skiers was very verbally intense.
After a pleasant interlude with wine, women and song (literally) at the Dresdner Hut, we struggled over a steep snow pass and descended an abnormally long and difficult glacier, complete with rock-work on an isolated island, and arrived to spend two lazy days in the Amberger Hut, reflecting on the previous day's experience, and recovering from the awesome trip from the Dresdner Hut.
The pass to the Franz Send Hut was cut off due to a steep ice run-off into a deep berg-shrund, but the descent was impossible with so large a party. A narrow rock shute and snow coulier slowed us down to snail's pace, and the discovery of the berg-shrund finally put the coup-de-grace on a dangerous crossing.
We returned to the Amberger Hut with a feeling of relief, and even after arriving well past meal hours, and with a hut full of French climbers celebrating Bastille Day with much wine, we were still welcomed and fed by the kind hut wardens.
The next morning dawned in a splendid sunrise which was a most satisfying experience to view. Soon we were off retracing steps up the glacier, roping up for the higher crevassed area, and returned with a feeling of anti-climax to the Dresdner Hut.
The evening culminated in a magnificent meal of Wiener Schnitzel and vegetables, pastries and cold coffee. Then onto the wine and beer and mountain cola, before retiring to bed feeling slightly queer about the head.
By the afternoon of the next day, we were back in Innsbruck, with the certain knowledge that much valuable snow and ice experience had been gained, and many new friendships cemented together. An overwhelming impression of the beauty of the Austrian Alps and the hospitality of the people was ultimately gained, and I now look back upon my journey as an important milestone in the maturing of world outlook and mountaineering development.
Saturday 23rd4, October 1976 is the date of a solar eclipse which is total over most of Victoria. Some walkers are considering going south along the coast to witness it. See George Gray for details.
by Owen Marks.
The fans are whirring overhead and the strings of beads (which are doors) are tapping the walls in the breeze. This is. Weipa, Aluminium Capital of Australia - and if you don't know where it is, I will tell you.
Only 525 miles north of Cairns on the Gulf of Carpentaria, and across one of the most awful desolate dusty and terrifying roads that you can imagine. Corrugations mile after mile, river crossings and the fear of being stuck and waiting 6 hours or so for a passing car, washed out sections of road, and the bull dust 14“ deep in odd spots, that go on for miles. Unsignposted road junctions that put the wind up me at one stage I kept an eye on the magnetic anthills that seemed to be lined up north-east to south-west. Unfortunately it was me - I went 5 hours out of my way across to Princess Charlotte Bay, no mean feat. I didn't see a car all the way, not a house and when I arrived at a signboard welcoming me to Mareena Plains and consulted my -map, I knew at last where I shouldn't be. The road to Weipa goes via Laura and Coen.
I suppose I must be lucky, because I arrived at Coen the day of the yearly races (I had heard in Cairns that they would be on) and I even stopped to see my first horse race. Five horses whizzing around the football-size course and the local population supplemented by the wild Weiparites all drunken and chucking stubbies everywhere (more about stubbies later). To place a bet you had to pay $2 to enter the paddock, so I missed out on my first bookie.
Coen is one store, one pub, old shacks and sheds everywhere, a small school and a population of 600. Of these, twenty families were white and I suppose they came from around the far distant parts of the area. The pub remained open until 5 a.m. and the police were rolling drunk and didn't see the wild Weiparites smashing windscreens with their stubbies (more about stubbies later). To put it quite succinctly, Coen is the last gasp and when the rainy season arrives no one can enter or leave for five months or so.
Weipa is quite different. A modern Canberra style suburb with wide green sprinklered expanses between the groups of homes and flats. A bank, a supermarket, papershop, post office, butcher, gift shop cum haberdashery cum clothing shop, a T.A.B. and a sumptuous hotel. It faces the Gulf and only a half mile away is the scrub. Bauxite everywhere, bitumen roads that go for 6 miles and then abruptly stop, and a thrice-daily plane service to civilization. The isolation doesn't exist that you would imagine. But the boozing is of a grand order. Boredom breeds boozers. I have been a guest of Ken Ellis who was a member of the S.B.W. a few years ago, and I have been doing the round of all his friends and workmates, etc. In every case without exception beer by the carton is forced upon you.
The stubbie. A small beer bottle, of about 3/4 pint. The whole of Queensland is being swamped by the stubble, but here in Weipa it is supreme. At the Evans Wharf open-air theatre cum canteen, you sit under palms and bouganvillia and gaze over the aquamarine Gulf with your ice cold stubble, the warm breeze (always warm here - midnight you can still sleep stark naked with no blankets under a fan) that seems to carry sea birds right up to the grassy banks, you down the cool ale and then when you have drained the stubbie, you lean back and chuck it over the wire fence onto the rocky shore. Smash! Smash! It goes on for hours every day. Think!!!! I did too, and I walked over to the edge. What a sight. Indescribable, and I have it on good authority that in 6 years time there will be no more Gulf of Carpentaria. It will be completely full up.
Now all of this rubbish isn't why I have been writing. It's only an introduction to my reason why I decided to splash 50 dollars for the return trip to Thursday Island. It seemed a shame to be only a couple of hundred miles away and not go. The plane goes daily and last Tuesday I jumped aboard for the 45 minute trip. The plane follows the coast all the way and as the Cape narrows, from the right-hand side of the plane you can see island-bespattered Torres Straits, Cape York, which is Australia's most northerly point, and the plane swoops down over the myriads of reefs and you land on Horn Island. A bus takes you over 2 miles to the wharf and then onto the boat for the final dash to Thursday Island.
The boat goes north, then west, then south, then east, then south, then west and then you zip along narrow channels past the banks and reefs and you are soon there. You have arrived in Fiji. Well, the Fiji of 30 years ago. Everyone is a fuzzy wuzzy with the occasional white face. Old faded wooden buildings, ramshackle homes, dirt and dusty roads, and dogs everywhere. It's hard to imagine that this is Australia.
The locals speak their own language and everyone smiled when they saw me. Unfortunately it wasn't from any friendliness on their part. I had a most ridiculous hat that I had bought in a mad fit on the Barrier Reef and this is what caused the merriment.
There is only one place to eat and I had fish and chips washed down with sarsaparilla. Not a good omen in anyone's language. Evening was coming and where was I to sleep? Easier done than said. Overlooking the town was an aerial popped on the highest hill. Filled up my plastic wine bottle and climbed the service road and in 10 minutes I was there and my tent up in another 10 minutes and the mosquito coil burning. The sun was just setting and the view was just incredible.
Thursday Island or T.I. as everyone calls it, is about two miles long by a halfmile wide. Along the centre spine are three hills a couple of hundred feet high. From my camp sight the whole world was in sight. The world of islands, reefs, shoals, bays, winking lighthouses, and the put-putting of nautical engines. I was told by an ancient seaman that this area is one of the most treacherous in the world. But you can never believe old mariners when they talk about their own area, but I suppose that it could be true. From the plane it looks probable that this is the case. There is a Wednesday and a Friday Island, too, named by Captain Cook on his three camping spots all those years ago.
The following morning I awoke early to see the sunrise and pack up my tent. I hid the pack in some trees on the cliff edge and walked down the hill. School holidays and the basket ball courts were full. Lots of those piggy-looking dogs barked at me and I was soon climbing the next hill to see the famous cemetery. A Governor of Queensland, a man who “was murdered on Musgrave Island - 'I want mercy, not vengeance'”, lots of Chinese poles including some in stone, Japanese and Indians, Malays and other Islanders. All these are the results of the pearling accidents, or just plain fishermen that came and never left.
The local people are now all mixed up racially but I suppose in a few generations the fuzzy-wuzzy strain will overpower the other genes. The fuzzy-wuzzy graves are very interesting. All the stones are made in cement and so you can write lots of epitaphs quite cheaply. Children's graves have all their toys just laying on the sandy grave surfaces. One woman had all her personal possessions, men would have pipes and I even saw a fishing rod. To protect them from the sun a little canopy would be erected with side fringes.
The only road passes right by. I caught a bus back to the shops and proceeded to inspect each one. I had to do something! Every shop was a general store. In two of them by the check-out counter were bowls of hot boiled eggs. You can buy practically anything that you would ever require. Don't forget that T.I. is a major centre for prawning and fishing boats between the east coast of Australia and the Gulf of Carpentaria, and between Australia and the world.
In the harbour world tourists in their sailing boats are easily marked by their flags, and that leads to the fabulous food available in the stores. Two big stores are on the water front, and little dinghies park on the beach and the crews walk across the road into the shops. You can see that the majority of food is for the Japanese and Malay crews. Curries, pastes, herbs and packets of unknown goodies are all in separate corners of the shop.
Being a part of Queensland and being in the tropics drinking is the only social activity. Unbelievable. Very few whites in the public bars where I would sit nursing my shandy and writing my postcards. Meat pies are available in each of the four pubs. I met a noisy drunk who had now retired from work and was singing in the Polynesian manner. One man would sing a line and Billy my special friend would join in the last few words in harmony. On his T-shirt was the wierdest message “The 75 anniversary of the Diocese of Carpentaria”. I'm not saying that the message was onky, only that appearances were beyond belief.
The heat of the day was now going and so I thought I would climb the last hill and see the three cannon. I was told by a maniac that they were built to drive away the Russians, but I met an old man whose uncle helped build the foundations during the First World War. In the centre of the fortifications were two buildings of the Meteorological Bureau.
The old cannon held my interest for one minute, but the view, as was the view from the cemetery, was wonderful The hospital was on the wrong side of the island and all the muddy beaches were alive with kids playing, or men mucking around with boats or other sea-type equipment. I stood up and drank all of my wine flask of water to celebrate and went to the nearest tree that was overhanging the road and went promptly to sleep. I awoke to the yell of a girl who was going to run me over on her bicycle. She fell off and her chums coming behind nearly had a smash.
Recovering, I went down to the other side of the island and inspected the Quetta Church. Late last century the “Quetta” and all her crew went down in the straits somewhere and this Anglican Church was built in memory of this great event. There were maps on the walls with drawings of the ship, an old snap of the ship going through the Suez Canal, parts of the ship with barnacles over them. I sat in the aisle on the floor and read my newspaper, the wind whistling through the open door, when through the door I saw a concrete ship built on the footpath. It was a light house and on the top was a real light. The wording was very clear and simple - “Thank God for the missionaries who brought Christianity to the Islands etc.” They have a public holiday called, if I can remember correctly, “The Day of Light”, or something like that, when they re-enact the coming of the missionaries.
Right next door was the Catholic Church but it was on a slight hill and I was too hot to bother, so I will never know what was in there.
Evening was coming and I walked back to the shops for fish and chips with sarsaparilla again and over to the open-air cinema (all programmes for the neat few weeks were rubbish) and then climbed the hill to bed. I had no sleeping bag or groundsheet. Just newspapers, under and over me.
Thus was my trip to T.I. Next morn at 11.30 after buying some tins of curry the boat set off for the airport and in one hour's time I was airborne and eating lunch on route for Weipa. A boxed salad for the 45 min. ride; there must be a reason for such a courtesy but I didn't complain. The mainland was covered in smoke from the odd bushfires here and there. The plane just keeps low and you can see everything, but unfortunately there is not a thing to see. Bush and red earth for hundreds of miles.
Such was my very cursory look at T.I. Not worth staying any extra time, although if you could find out when the free Government boats leave for such and such an island or the missions here and there etc. it would be most interesting. On Wednesdays the boat goes to Barmaga on the mainland. You have to get permission the day before from the Island Affairs Dept, and from what I've heard they are very friendly and most helpful. If you ever happen to pass this way, and in the dry season, it is well worth the $50, but if it means a choice on an overseas trip between Thursday Island or Bali - go to Bali.
17 Falcon Street, Crows Nest 2065. Ph. 439-2454.
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[Cartoon of bushwalking group about to head out on a lilo trip. One bushwalker has a lilo with outboard motor strapped to his pack. Another bushwalker asks:]
“How many lilo trips did you say you'd been on?”
by Len Newland. Phone 43-2419 (B)
So far I have received just one walk for the summer programme. Unless other people put walks onto the programme, that walk is going to be mighty crowded!
I take the opportunity here to urge leaders, especially of test walks, to knock some navigational knowledge into prospectives' noggins. After all, we don't have special sessions for this any more, and they're just dying to learn the tricks of the trade.
|9,10||Narrowneck - Duncan's Pass - Mt. Merrimerrigal - Splendour Rock - Mob's Soak Cave - Medlow Gap - Narrowneck. This grand tour starts at 8 a.m. at Echo Point on the Saturday morning. Leader is John Fox.|
|8,9,10||Bongonia Lookdown - Tolwong Mines - Shoalhaven R. - Bungonia Canyon - Bungonia Lookdown. Rod Peters warns that there is likely to be a short compulsory swim. On this outing you will take an unusual approach to Bungonia Gorge, via a little-known area of the Shoalhaven. There will be a quick tour of Tolwong Mines.|
|15,16,17||Barallier - Murruin Ck. - Bindook Falls - Bullgang Ridge - Wollondilly - Barallier. I understand that some group is looking to this area as future National Park. See it now with Bill Burke.|
|15,16,17||Barrington Guest House - Rainforest - The Corker - Barrington Tops - Carey's Peak - Wooloma. I am not familiar with the area. Why not check it out with Ray Hookway?|
|Sunday 17||The first of our two one-day test walks this month. I am going to strike north from Woodford, with the intention of lunching on Lake Woodford. I don't promise a loaf, but it should be interesting.|
|22,23,24||New Haven Gap - Folly Pt. - Clyde R. - Angel Falls - Mt.Cole - Mt. Tarn - New Haven Gap. Pat McBride leads this trip through the Beautiful Budawangs.|
|22,23,24||Carlon's Farm - Breakfast Ck. - Blackhorse Range - Splendour Rock - Yellow Pup - Konangaroo - Cox's R. - Breakfast Ck. - Carlon's Farm. Join Hans Beck for an invigorating weekend in the western Blue Mountains.|
|29,30,31||Hartley Vale - Surveyor Ck. - Grose R. - Bluegum Forest - Junction Rock - Govett's Leap - Blackheath. Enjoy a weekend with Vic Lewin in some of the best bush in the Blue Mountains. Enjoy Bluegum Forest before it's extinct.|
|Sunday 31||Otford - Cliff Track - Polona Brook - Neram Ridge - Waterfall. Ray Carter led this walk in reverse some months back, and I found it most enjoyable, with plenty of seacliff views from the cliff track, and the waterfall of Polona Brook as highlights.|
|1,2,3,4||Budawangs: Yadboro Flat. Day 1 - Davidson Head - Pigeonhouse. Day 2 - Kallanna Ridge - The Castle. Day 3 - Deadman's Gulph. Rd. - Castle Gap - Castle Ck. Trail. Pigeonhouse offers great views. The Castle even better. I wonder why they call it “Deadman's Gulph”? Ask Vic Lewin.|
|1,2,3,4||Day 1 - Drawing Room Rock - Barren Grounds - Cook's Nose. Day 2 - Woodhill Mt. Day 3 Broger's Ck. The area of day 1 sounds like a happy place. Why not join Helen Gray this weekend?|
|29,30,31||Carlon's Farm - Breakfast Ck. - Galong Ck. - Carlon's Farm. Tony Denham seems to think that this is time of year for swimming. He enjoys tea breaks, too.|
|Sunday 3||Springwood - W|
|Sunday 3||Waterfall - Waratah Hill - Tukawa Rill - Engadine. Leader is Meryl Watman, who says that there is no water at the lunch stop.|
|Sunday 10||Hoswharf (Church Pt.) - West Head - Elvina Bay. Ferry leaves Church Pt. at 10 a.m. Leader: Barry Zieren.|
|Sunday 24||Waterfall - Governor Game Lookout - Curra Moors - Garie. Gladys Roberts leads this one.|
All these day walks are easy, and through splendid bush, and very good for newcomers to the club.
by John Redfern.
A letter was received from the Custom's Department requesting information on bushwalking, bushwalking areas and map reading.
A letter was received from an officer of the Sport & Recreation Service asking for information on forming Bush Walking Clubs.
Negotiations are progressing with the Water Board regarding access into the Warrangamba area.
No further progress on the Tri-State Walking Track was reported.
The Police have invited the Federation to a De-Briefing, following the S. & R. Practice at Mountain Lagoon in October.
The Publicity Officer, Ted Hartley, appealed for help by established clubs for newly formed clubs. He would be willing to visit clubs to discuss this.
The President, Bruce Vote, commented on the stopping of the logging road through Lever's Plateau in the Border Ranges Area. He felt the Federation's effort may have contributed, and suggested the conservation of the Northern Blue Mountains area as a new project.
A motion was passed to have the Federation's Records stored by the Mitchell Library.