Established June 1931
A monthly bulletin of matters 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 pm at the Cahill Community Centre (Upper Hall), 34 Falcon Street, Crow's Nest. Enquiries concerning the Club should be referred to Ann Raven, telephone 798-8607.
|Editor||Evelyn Walker, 158 Evans Street, Rozelle, 2039. Telephone 827-3695.|
|Business Manager||Bill Burke, 3 Coral Tree Drive, Carlingford, 2118. Tel. 871-1207.|
|Production Manager||Helen Gray.|
|Duplicator Operator||Phil Butt.|
|Coolana - Where the Money Came From||Dot Butler||2|
|The Guadalupes||Allan Wyborn||5|
|Obituary - Kath McKay||Edna Garrad||6|
|Capon's Caravan||Bill Gamble||7|
|Social Notes for February||Jo Van Sommers||9|
|Barrington Tops Search & Rescue||Wal Liddle||11|
|Notice: Club Walk in Arthurs Pass N.Z.||Bill Gamble||15|
|The December General Meeting||Barry Wallace||16|
|Constitutional Amendments||Barbara Bruce||18|
|1983 Bushwalker Recipes No.1||Spiro Hajinakitas||18|
|Eastwood Camping Centre||10|
by Dot Butler.
When I joined the S.B.W. fifty-one years ago it was a small Club numbering about 140, mostly young and single. The babies of the few married couples could be counted on the fingers of one hand. We were all very proud of our bushwalker babies - young Milo who had been wheeled in a specially constructed pram all the way from Katoomba to Kanangra by Miles and Margaret Dunphy; the young monkey David, son of Ourang-outan Roots; the beautiful little elfin Ross, son of Frank and Alice Duncan. This little fellow developed a complaint which necessitated the amputation of his leg. All we bushwaikers shared the anguish of his parents at the prospect of a life just beginning for a boy with only one leg. Knowing a series of artificial limbs would be required throughout his growing period his S.B.W. friends contributed towards their cost, but before they became necessary little Ross died. His parents declined to take the money so it was put into a Special Fund in the hope that some day the Club might be in a position to buy land as a bushland reserve.
Years rolled by before the chance came. More money was added and in 1947 the Club bought Portion 7 at Era, thus preventing development of this beautiful natural beach area. Urging by the S.B.W. that it be added to Garrawarra eventually resulted in Era being incorporated into the Royal National Park. The Government paid to the S.B.W. the value of the land. This money was put into government bonds and there it remained for years, posing an annual headache to Club Treasurers whose tidy minds wanted to see it put to the purpose for which it was set aside.
From time to time over the next 20 or so years attempts were made to find a legitimate use for the fund:- a site near Woods Creek (£6,000, hence too expensive); a freehold on the Kowmung River (soon, however, resumed as part of the Kanangra-Boyd National Park); a couple of chances of acquiring a lease of ski-hut sites at Kosciusko; bidding at auction for Bendethera - but it was not till 1969 that the problem was solved by our combining with the Quakers in the purchase of a 190 acre section on the Kangaroo River (see article in the June 1982 Bushwalker).
The Era Fund + Interest totalled $1,611. Another Special Fund of $1,000 was allotted for the purchase. This had been accumulated in the very early years of the Club in the wished-for but continually receding hope that we might some day own our own Club room and need money for furnishing. The manner of accumulating this fund is interesting: We had amongst our members several who had a talent for theatrical productions. They worked wanders with the raw human material at their disposal, enabling the Club to stage very professional and profitable productions at the Phillip St. Theatre and the Open Air Theatre at Castlecrag. As well as bushwalkers watching their friends perform, many of the general public turned up to be delighted with the shows.
A further $1,500 was needed to meet the cost of purchase of the land in Kangaroo Valley, and I was appointed fund raiser. This came from personal donations, 122 members giving amounts from $1 to $100, but most around $10 to $20.
This is where the story becomes more personal. Having seen the chance to acquire a ski hut lost on the vote at a General Meeting on the grounds that Kosciusko was too remote, and how were we to find a reliable caretaker among our members, I was determined that the infant Coolana should not be lost for lack of a caring “parent”. You never really own land till contracts are signed and delivered, and as the owner was considering other buyers and I was about to depart for 12 months to the Andes on a mountaineering expedition, I withdrew my own and my daughter's Building Society deposits and gave the money to my brother, Harold English, an Estate Agent, telling him to buy the land and it could be passed over to the S.B.W. later if they so decided. So my brother bought it in conjunction with the Quakers and for a brief period the 90 acres was vested in his private company, “Coolana Pty. Ltd.” Well, no negative motions hindered the Club's decision and during my absence overseas brother effected the transfer which made Coolana the property of the S.B.W.
There were some who still did not favour the project: “The Club is concerned with bushwalking, not land-owning” - “Who is going to look after it?” - “How are we going to meet the rates?” So the Coolana Committee was set up in 1970 with myself as Convenor. Our job was to look after the land, and I made a secret resolve to raise sufficient funds to pay the rates without calling on subscriptions so no one could say the property was a drain an Club funds and we should get rid of it.
For five years the question of rates hardly worried us, being no more than $40 to $50, which were covered by donations, but in 1975 they skyrocketed to $220. I had asked my husband, Ira, who was an Economist, how we were to get an assured income to meet rates. “Set up a Fund,” he said, “and use the interest.” A couple of years later he died so in 1975 I decided to use $2,000 of his Estate in setting up the “Ira Butler Memorial Fund”. “You'll be dead yourself some day,” said the solicitor preparing the Constitution of the Fund, “Why not call it the Ira and Dorothy Butler Memorial Fund”. “Hell!” said I, startled, “I'm a long way from being dead yet!” So we called it the “Ira and Dorothy Butler Fund for Conservation”. By 1979 interest from this Fund financed the purchase of $1,000 Loan at 10.4% with the Electricity Commission.
In 1980 Marie Byles, practically a foundation member of the S.B.W., died. As Executor of her Estate she left me money, plus her books and personal effects which I sold, all totalling $1,388. As a memorial to Marie I donated this to Coolana. Further donations from the I. & D. Butler Fund made up a total of $1,500 which we put into a Water Board Loan at 12.2%.
Also in 1980 came Fazeley Read's great effort in selling at a small profit about 100 sleeping bags she had obtained wholesale. The $1,000 from this was used to purchase a Main Roads Loan at 12%.
Now my Quaker friend, Mr. George Davison (now 94) comes into the story. As a surveyor he gave us invaluable help surveying our property and helping us with his knowledge of Land Board procedures. He and I spent much time over a period of 10 years visiting Coolana. He loved the place and wished to have a tree dedicated as a memorial to his dead wife. You can see the plaque on the George & Mary Davison Tree at the Re-union site. In 1977 he donated $1,500 to set up the “George & Mary Davison Fund for Conservation”. He was invited, and became, an Hon. Member of the S.B.W. In 1981 Mr. Davison 's donations, and interest from his Fund, amounting to $1,000 was put into a Telecom Loan at 14%.
As a Director of a private Conservation Company, Natural Areas Ltd., I influenced the Board to make Coolana an annual grant (av. $150 p.a.). This, together with interest from the “I. & D. Butler Fund”, enabled us to take out $1,000 loan with the Electricity Commission at 15.5%.
In 1982 Committee decided it was time to close the separate Coolana Account and pass all these money machinations over to the Club Treasurer, so in October 1982 the “I. & D. Butler Fund” + Interest ($3,238) together with a previous donation of $250, and the “G. & M. Davison Fund” + Interest ($1,564) was invested in two Main Roads Board Loans:- $1,000 at 17.2% and $4,000 at 17.0%.
Rates from 1970 to 1982, totalling $3,471, have been covered by sundry donations, compensation from the Electricity Commission and from the Water Board for resumptions of part of our property, proceeds of Club Auctions and interest on Investments.
It is gratifying to reflect that the Club would never have been able to buy such a piece of land at present Real Estate values. It cost us $4,060. The 1978 V.G. Valuation is $27,000.
In summary, the Coolana investments are now:-
|1,000||Electricity Commission of N.S.W.||10.4||11/8/83||104|
|1,000||Main Roads Board||12.0||1/10/84||120|
|1,000||Electricity Commission of N.S.W.||15.5||1/11/85||155|
|1,000||Main Roads Board||17.2||6/8/92||172|
|4,000||Main Roads Board||17.0||20/10/86||680|
I have enjoyed my 13 years as foster mother to Coolana. Now the infant has grown sufficiently for me to leave it in other hands. I shall devote my fund-raising talents to some other form of conservation.
by Allan Wyborn.
We approached the Guadalupe Mountains National Park from El Paso in the extreme south-west of Texas. Little did we know of the fairyland that awaited us. The day before a strong wind at -20°C temperature had stripped all the moisture from the air, and loaded the whole countryside with dry ice - grass, leaves, trees and rocks. In the stillness of the mountains when we arrived the only sound was the clicking of our cameras. We have seen plenty of snow and ice in our time, but never anything to equal this beauty. Camping at Pine Springs at 1,800 metres that night there was not the slightest change in the ice surroundings, but next morning the ice had disappeared due to a wind rising during the night - the transformation was complete.
With such an introduction we felt we would enjoy our stay here. This primitive park would intrigue any bushwalker, with mountains to 2,700 metres, no roads, 100 km of trails, canyons, magnificent scenery and plenty of wildlife. The rocks which make up the Guadalupe Mountains were formed during the Permian period, when an inland sea covered the area. It was in the shallow water near the shore of this sea that the huge Capitan limestone barrier reef was built up, surrounding a basin of deposited mineral salts. Earth movements and erosion shaped the mountain range as it is today - the Guadalupes being one of the few parts of this reef showing above ground, and extending as a 64 km long escarpment in a surrounding area of desert.
On the southern end of the range stands El Capitan, magnificent with its sheer cliff of over 600 metres and height above sea level of 2,500 metres, and a landmark over great distances. Only a few kms to the north and slightly higher at 2,660 metres is Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas, but dominated by El Capitan. Other peaks almost as high stretch north to the boundary of the Park on the New Mexico state line. The Park is relatively new and has an area of 30,800 hectares.
Apart from trips to the various peaks, there are trails into the great canyons such as McKittrick and Dog Canyons. Overnight permits to camp in designated back country sites are necessary, water has to be carried, and you must stay on the trails. The beauty of the canyon walls, the interesting plant and wildlife communities to be seen are sufficient recompense for these regulations. The canyons are at their best in spring with the desert blooms. The area is rugged and steep and not to be taken lightly. The Frijole Information Centre is of great assistance when exploring the trails. Two km behind this Centre is a most complete and substantial building of early ranching enterprises in the area, next to one of the few permanent springs. Apart from back country sites there are only two other campsites, Pine Springs and Dog Canyon - very good by our standards and no fee to camp. We used the Pine Springs camp many times, passing on the way to it ruins of a stagecoach site, built in 1858 by the Butterfield Overland Mail Line to carry mail and passengers from St.Louis to San Francisco.
In this semi-arid climate, one would not expect to see much wildlife but birds and animals are in abundance. Animals commonly seen include elk, mule deer, ringtail cat, raccoon, porcupine, fox, coyote and bobcat. Bear and mountain lion are only seen occasionally. We saw a lot of mule deer and nightly heard the coyotes, which walked through the campsites at dusk. Birds range from tiny hummingbirds to majestic golden eagles, and include wild turkey, woodpeckers, red cardinals, thrushes and many other species - and of course the numerous roadrunners.
U.S. Highway 62-180 passes through one small corner of the Park offering spectacular views of El Capitan, Guadalupe Peak and the eastern and western escarpments, and passing through the historic Guadalupe Pass, scene of many skirmishes between soldiers, outlaws, cattle rustlers and Apache raiders.
Altogether the Park is most scenic, rugged and remote, and the mountains stand like an island in the desert.
by Edna Garrad.
To most present day Club members “Kath McKay” is just a name on the list of Honorary Members. Her bushwalking career ended abruptly about 1939. She was out walking at Cowan with Marie Byles, and they were standing admiring a view, when the rock on which Kath was standing suddenly fell into the ravine in front of them. Portion of the rock fell on Kath's ankle, severely crushing it. Doctors at Hornsby Hospital wanted to amputate the foot but Marie obtained the services of a specialist who, after a number of operations and periods in hospital, saved the foot but the ankle was never strong.
Kath always retained her love of the bush and her interest in The Sydney Bush Walkers. She was very intelligent and spoke (and read books) in several languages. She was a gentle person with a great reverence for all forms of life and would not knowingly injure an insect. She wrote delightfully and older members will recall her poems and articles in the magazine. “Burn, bash and bury”, which appeared on our earlier walks programmes was supplied by her and when this was decided inappropriate, she supplied the current:-
“The tins you carry in your pack
Are lighter on the journey back.
Though empties are a bore to hump,
The bush is not a rubbish dump.”
During her life Kath faced many disabilities with great courage and good humour. She died in a nursing home on the 19th December. We do not mourn her passing, which was a release for her, but those of us who were fortunate enough to be her friends will always remember her with admiration and affection.
Extract from Edna's letter which accompanied the above:
“We Honorary Members very much appreciate receiving the magazine and certainly retain our interest in the Club even if we very rarely put in an appearance.”
by Bill Gamble.
The wet and chilly conditions in Sydney an Friday, 25 June 1982, did not offer much towards the weekend of walking which Bill Capon had put on the programme. Most of the twenty-one starters an his Budawangs walk made their way south to Nowra in scattered showers. The walk was listed on the winter programme as follows:-
Budawangs - Tanderra Camp - Quiltye - Turtons Pass - Styles Creek - Mts. Tarn, Elliot and Sturgis - Hidden Valley - Tanderra Camp. Map: Budawang Sketch (see also Endrick 1:25,000 and Corang 1:31,680). 32 km - Medium.
Derek Wilson met me at Sutherland Station at 7.00 pm and shortly after 10.00 pm. and a brief stop in Nowra for coffee and raisin toast, we opened the first of four gates on the dirt road to Tanderra Camp.
More,specifically, one turns off the Princes Highway at Tomerong on to the well-graded dirt Turpentine Road to Braidwood, then continues past the Tianjara Falls sign and at Sassafras turns off through the gate on the left side of the road marked “Trespassers prosecuted” and flanked on either side by two farm buildings. Tanderra Camp is about 35 minutes' slow driving on a dirt road which heads south and steadily worsens. The camp is no more than open ground on both sides of the road with fire rings but no facilities or signs. A few metres farther on, the road crosses a rough wood bridge, so that is as good a sign as any that one has arrived at Tanderra Camp.
Saturday morning offered a fine, if somewhat cool, day. Out of the chaos of late risers, late arrivals, breakfast around the campfire and packing unwanted gear in cars, the party moved off at 8.30 am at a brisk pace. Oh, for a party which warms slowly to a day's walking! Near The Vines, we stopped briefly on the edge of rain forest at the Morton National park sign before moving off to Endrick Trig atop Quiltys Mountain. If there is a starting and finishing point for a good walk, this could well be it.
The route to Endrick Trig was across open plateau-like terrain of sparsely covered rock. I had expected bush, bush and more bush. After all, Endrick Trig at 863 m can hardly be described as alpine, though certainly exposed. To reach the area known as Quiltys Mountain we had, immediately after leaving the national park sign, left the trail, crossed a shallow saddle, and scrambled over or through a rock line along a worn route. We Passed through an area containing Aborigine rock drawings (and a park sign requesting visitors to respect the area) and then headed generally westwards across open ground giving splendid long views to reach the trig. Wayne Steele said that I should consider myself lucky to have such clear conditions - mostly he had found it a misty and cloudy place.
Our leader pushed us on to the south end of Quiltys Mountain for good views into the heart of the Budawangs. The cliffs were high, giving almost airborne views down to the plain containing Styles Creek. Our first diversion of the day had been crossing a steep rock gully which bisected the mountain at a narrow neck. The inevitable demise of a well-placed tree trunk will make for difficulties at some time in the future. So too in Turtons Pass (Bill figures, tongue-in-cheek, that if this description passes into common usage with bushwalkers, the Central Mapping Authority will surely do the rest to perpetuate Ray's name), where the roots of a gnarled tree provide the critical footholds down a fern-filled gully on the east flank of the range. The gully is deep, moist and chilly. Almost canyon-like. One of the several delights to which the leader introduced the party.
After lunchstop in the valley bottom, we sidled to the old logging road and followed it down to the plain. Our immediate objective was Mount Houghton to the south, and the route up a ridge spur at the east end could be seen easily from the open ground. At the top of the buttress at an overhang beneath the cliff line we re-grouped in the warm afternoon sun before walking a well-defined track around the base of the cliffs to the saddle which links Mount Houghton to Mount Tairn. This section is full of pleasant surprises - fernfilled overhangs, plentiful soaks and several bivvies. Our leader had us fill water containers from a soak of spring-like proportions, as he had some doubts about water supplies on Mount Tairn where we would camp. It transpired that there was almost unlimited water flowing from the swampy ground on the plateau-ed mountain.
Within minutes of our arrival, tents were being erected, wood dragged from many places and the first brews under way. There was enough time for many to wander to a nearby high point for fine views in the sunset. The clear sky gave no hint that the rising breeze would, before night was out, become strong enough to flatten tents. It came in about dusk, cold and strong from the west and did not yield until the following afternoon. Some departed the campfires early, hastened by the stiff breeze and chilly conditions. Many lingered until around 10.00 pm when the strong wind forced all to seek the protection of flapping tents. From comments made the next morning, most tossed fitfully. Tents which fell to the wind were wrapped around occupants as they remained protected from the bitter cold in sleeping bags. The sky remained sharply clear with no hint of clouds or rain. Breakfast was a stand-up affair in the relative calm of a nearby gully on the north-west flank of Mount Tairn.
Somehow, the ragged, wind-blown party coalesced by 9.00 am into a group which moved enthusiastically and well into a varied day's walking back to Tanderra Camp. We retraced our steps around the cliff line of Mount Houghton, which few would ever regret doing. Then, we descended the same spur ridge to the plain, skirting the lip of Holland Gorge, to reach the western end of Sturgiss Mountain. In slow file, we followed the cliff line in an interesting scramble to the gully between Sturgiss Mountain and Mount Elliot. The cliffs rose above us in vertical slabs for up to 60-80 metres, and views south indicated some pretty rough country in the Holland Gorge and beyond.
Morning tea was split between those taking a break and those, headed by our leader, scrambling up Mount Elliot. Reassembled, we all scrambled up a nearby gully and ramp to the top of Sturgiss Mountain; and, with the assistance of Tony Marshall's rope, made it through the last few metres of rock. Packs were dragged up one by one and collected from a baggage claim area as their owners came up after them.
The route north along the top was first an easy scrub-bash, then a rock hop on great slabs of sandstone. Above Hidden Valley memories and cliffs were scoured to find the route down. Of the scouts dispatched, Frank Taeker found the route and led us to the starting point. The ledges and ramps were a delight to negotiate - so easy to see from the floor of Hidden Valley, but not quite so from above. Chain and spikes assisted in a couple of places.
In Hidden Valley we received some respite from the winds which had buffeted us at every opportunity and a well used, sheltered bivvy was found for a sunny lunchstop about 20 metres above the outfall creek from the valley. The distance from there to rejoin the old logging road coming up from Styles Creek is short - probably fifteen minutes' walking at most and easy travelling along a discernible track which commences in a narrow rock gully a few minutes south of where we stopped for lunch. The short track joins at an unmarked fork the old logging road coming up from Styles Creek on the plain which continues to The Vines (although the Spring 1982 issue of Australian Wild, page 70, mentions a line of stones on a log to the left as a marker). The only obvious point of reference to this myopic bushwalker was nearby, a large tree trunk across the old road, although this might be confusing to mention as there are other large trees fallen across the road.
From there to Tanderra Camp easy travelling continues on a well-defined route ranging from footpath to fire trail width. It allowed time to enjoy to the full a beautiful, if regrettably small, area of rain forest. In the shelter of the forest and in the lee of Quiltys Mountain the wind was stilled, and that made for pleasant walking.
The party had strung out over 20-30 minutes of track by the time the front runners reached Tanderra Camp. By then, it was no more than breezy, enabling some to have a brew before moving out at dusk far the drive back to Sydney. Some other survivors of Capon's caravan settled for a Chinese meal in Kiama.
by Jo Van Sommers.
February 16*: First Aid and Campfire Etiquette for Bushwalkers. Talk and demonstration led by Barry Wallace.
February 23: Members Slide Night. A chance to show the slides of your Christmas trip (and others).
* Dinner before the meeting at the Malaya Restaurant, 73 Mount Street, North Sydney at 6.30 pm.
by Wal Liddle.
Karl and I arrived at Raymond Terrace at 9.30 pm on Friday evening. We were feeling slightly peckish and drove down the main street looking for the local eatery. Although all of the shops were lit only one was open. Our luck was in, as this shop was the local hamburger joint.
The shop was full of young people drinking milkshakes or playing the 'Space Invader' machines. We ordered chicken and a meat pie. The proprietor, a bearded bloke in a red check shirt said - “Sorry mates! I've closed down most of my cooking equipment and all I can offer you is hamburgers!”
Settling for a round meal and a square of toast, we ordered coffee.
The proprietor, when serving us the burgers asked us where we came from. Taken aback at not being recognised as locals we answered -
“We're from Sydney and we are going to Barrington Tops to look for a missing plane that disappeared last August.”
“You're not?” he said incredulously. “Yes, we are from the Sydney Bushwalkers Club, and there will be lots of other clubs up there.”
“Well, you will never get there.”
“Why's that?” I asked.
“Because the police won't let you. I've got a mate, a local bushie, who knows exactly where the plane is, but the police are keeping him away.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because the plane was carrying a load of marihuana, that's why!”
Reeling from the shock of being told that the walk might be off, Karl and I stepped outside into the cold air.
We resumed our journey via the Williams River Bridge and on to Dungog, discussing whether the local was right. We passed through that sleepy town at about 11.00 pm on the way to the meeting spot, west of the Chichester Dam.
Suddenly the headlights illuminated the “S. & R.” black and yellow arrow markers on the side of the dark road. We turned off on to a narrow tarred road which deteriorated into a dirt road leading us to the S. & R. rendezvous spot. Here there were lots of cars, lights and tents of all sizes.
The morning sun showed the camp site to be in a farmer's paddock near an earthen dam. In the distance could be seen the rugged dark green of the Barrington Tops bush contrasted against the light green of the cleared fields.
Every make and model of car was represented but four wheel drive vehicles predominated.
Fergus Bell, of the Federation of Bush Walkers Rescue Organisation, called us all together. He indicated that all present should “sign on” as we were all covered by an insurance policy.
Represented at the spot were a number of bush walking clubs such as Kameruka, Span, Sydney Bush Walkers (6) etc. There were a number of four wheel drive clubs, one vehicle from the Police Rescue Club (so much for the local's story), and representatives from the Central Coast and South Coast Volunteer Rescue Associations. Fergus indicated that -
(a) The S. & R. operation was an exercise which was held regularly throughout each year to train people such as ourselves.
(b) This particular exercise had the full backing of the police.
© Other parts of the Barrington Tops had been searched in the previous weekends, but without success.
(d) We would be split into 8 parties of 9 persons each.
(e) Each group would elect its own leader.
(f) Each leader would be given a map of the area and a celluloid overlay of the specific territory to be searched.
(g) A “walkie-talkie” set connected to the base camp would be issued to each group.
(h) Each group would be given a first-aid kit.
(i) We would be carried to the rendezvous spot, some 5 kms away, by four-wheel drive vehicles.
(j) Three volunteer nurses were in attendance at base camp in case anyone was injured.
(k) The approximate last known position of the aeroplane had been calculated from radio messages to the civilian aviation authority, allowing for the plane's speed, wind drift, etc.
(l) The aeroplane or parts of it that we would be looking for would be no bigger than a mini-minor car, and could easily be overlooked in the dense bush and undergrowth.
(m) We were to look at the top of the trees for “sheared branches” and broken tree limbs which might indicate the plane's last flight path.
(n) If we found the plane or parts of it, we were to keep clear of the area and not touch anything but were to report back immediately to base camp.
(o) Long trousers, long-sleeved shirts and gloves should be worn because of the nature of the bush.
The whole company then dispersed to pack their personal gear and cook breakfast. After breakfast we all gathered around the large S. & R. trailer which was camplete with radio transmitter and aerial, first-aid gear, shovels, picks, poles and a helicopter rescue basket.
Leaders ere elected, maps distributed and all the last minute preparations finalised. The transport vehicles then lined up ready for their passengers. One of the vehicles was an Austrian Army Puch Brand 'Pinzgauer', a light-weight 6 wheeled truck that could carry 20 people or equipment. The truck was olive green, with a canvas-topped cabin and rear tray. The truck was mounted on a light-weight chassis with a small motor renowned for its low torque. This combination allowed the vehicle to traverse difficult terrain with ease. The “Puch” was to be our radio relay vehicle.
Our party (number 5) led by John Redfern and Roger - a member of the South Coast Volunteer Rescue Association - piled into a blue Diahatsu and a Land Rover. We set off to Mt. Nelson via a rugged four-wheel drive track and after about 3 kms the whole convoy was halted by a muddy slippery steep pinch. All the passengers bailed out whilst each vehicle negotiated the difficult section by means of backing-off down the track and then applying extra speed or by a combination of speed and man/woman power.
At approximately 9.30 am we arrived near an unnamed hill on the map which we dubbed “The Knoll”. Here we said goodbye to our drivers and grouped to receive further instructions from our leaders.
Fergus Bell indicated that -
(i) The “starting off” point for our party had been marked the day before by himself and other S. & R. members. It consisted of light cord strung between bushes traversing an area of .25 km, in the shape of an “L”.
(ii) If any of us were separated from our group and could not re-establish contact we would find base camp by following any of the creeks and streams in a down flow direction.
Our party consisting of John, Roger, Faizley, Ken, Peter, Paul, Karl, Wal and Spiro, took an hour to find the cord in the bush after many consultations and map readings. Although the country we were traversing consisted of relatively open bush with little undergrowth it was difficult to establish our exact latitude and longitude. In the course of our journey we met two other groups who were having the same difficulty establishing their exact whereabouts in relationship to their starting-off point.
At the junction of the “L”-shaped cord we squatted in the soft grass for a rest whilst our radio operator strung his aerial between the trees and contacted base.
After a “dry” morning tea we set out down the tree-covered mountainside. Our bearing was 208° south and the leaders' instructions were to keep within shouting distance of each other, that is, about 10 metres apart. This was more difficult than expected because each person had to find his own way through that particular section of bush and could not “follow the leader” as on a normal bush walk. In addition, the terrain varied from person to person in that No.1 of the group could be in dense bush, No.2 could be in swampy ground whilst No.3 could be near a cliff. Our progress was encumbered by lawyer vines, idle-away vines, and occasional stinging trees which left a stinging feeling in the arms, hands or legs for hours afterwards.
The party regrouped many times throughout the morning with contact being lost within minutes of heading into the bush.
Part way through the morning Paul fell over a large rock and injured his knee. The injury proved to be not serious and we were able to proceed after a short rest and first-aid treatment.
At approximately one o'clock the leaders called for a “lunch break” on the sloping banks of a gully above a creek. Here the radio operator again established contact with base camp.
The news was “NO, the plane had not been found” and that our latitude and longitude did not correspond with our map description. A certain amount of friendly argument and relayed messages to and from base camp took place with neither side conceding defeat. We reckoned that our party was on the south bank of Gold Diggers Creek whilst base camp indicated that our description would have it us north of another creek. Well, that says a lot for compass work in thick bush in unfamiliar country.
After lunch we again slogged through thick bush, up precipitous mountainsides, down slippery creek beds looking for that elusive plane. Because of the nature of the terrain we found it impossible to scour all parts of the mountains and gullies.
Late that afternoon a very exhausted group camped at the only flat piece of ground close to Dixie Creek. We had to remove rocks and level part of the site before enough space was found to pitch the four tents. The trees formed a dense canopy overhead blocking out the afternoon rays of the sun.
A lovely evening round the camp fire was enjoyed by the searchers with Spiro making his famous Turkish coffee for all present.
The next day we scoured other areas of the mountains and valleys with no success. Our lunch spot was adjacent to an unnamed creek near a beautiful fern-covered grotto.
Sunday afternoon we spent searching and losing contact with each other, regrouping and consulting our maps.
About two o'clock Roger and I became detached from the main group of searchers, near the top of a steep hill. The only “easy” way down seemed to be via one of the gulleys, so down we went. What a nightmare that journey was, with mud everywhere and tangled bushes stopping our advance. Steep drops over rock ledges were encountered at every turn. The only way I could negotiate the creek bed was to drop my pack over the ledges and climb around each rock and bush. The lower parts of my journey saw me sliding in the mud with my white singlet turning dark brown.
At 3 o'clock John and Roger decided to call the search off, and proceed to our rendezvous spot on the Chichester River. We heaved a sigh of relief but the spot was still some two hours away.
The party then followed the course of a full flowing stream, rock hopping, climbing along the steep banks and every now and then crossing and re-crossing the stream. Wet feet and shorts were the order of the day, and the water was freezing cold! At last we reached a broad grassed river flat where we thankfully threw down our packs whilst some members went for a swim and a wash.
Half an hour later the four-wheeled drive vehicles arrived to take us back to base camp via a number of farm properties.
On arrival at camp we signed off, and were thanked by Fergus Bell. He indicated that the next search of the area would be in even more rugged country, accessible only by way of army helicopter transport.
1. From “Sydney Morning Herald”, 7th September, 1982.
“Increasingly anxious radio messages from the pilot of an aircraft believed to have crashed in the Barrington Tops area in northern N.S.W. described how the plane was icing up and had lost 2,500 ft. altitude in little more than a minute. An Air Safety inspector, Mr. James Wayne, said the plane was last spotted on the radar near the town of Gloucester. After passing Taree, Mr. Hutchins (the pilot) had asked for clearance to fly over Williamstown Air Force Base. However, before clearance was given he reverted to his flight plan and headed into worsening weather. A forester told the inquest the Barrington Tops area was hit by “extremely bad weather” on the day of the crash. Sergeant Peter Mason said: “It is regrettable that they have not been located and no evidence of any wreckage has been located. However, in the absence of any confirming details it would appear on the evidence available that there is no doubt the aircraft crashed”.
2. Extract from N.P.A. Journal - “September and October '82 Walks”.
“Sept. 25-26 Search and Rescue Practice - Search for missing aircraft in the Barrington Tops rain forest. Base camp located on the Allyn River. Any intending searchers must be medium grade walkers or more advanced grades.”
3. I hope that my description of the walk does not deter members of the Club from taking part in a future search and rescue operation.
I found the walk challenging and rewarding. I met some nice people, saw some glorious scenery, and thoroughly enjoyed myself.
The Autumn Walks Programme will include from March 1983 a nine-day walk in Arthurs Pass National Park. The Park is located 155 km west of Christchurch and straddles the main divide of the Southern Alps. No climbing is involved.
The walk will commence an Friday, 18th March, and finish on the following Saturday week, 26th March. Most of the time will be in the north-east of the Park where the Poulter Valley should provide fairly easy travelling for the most part, but will be a little more demanding in its upper reaches towards the bushline. There will be opportunities to scramble to Minchin and Worsley Passes, and to adjacent ridges on sidetrips. The walk is mostly medium but is graded medium/hard because of the extra pack weight of food and the planned return from the Upper Poulter Valley via the high level Trudge Col into the Hawdon Valley. The party is expected to be walking six to eight hours each day in an altitude range between 500 and 1500 metres.
Party members are required to make their own way to the Park ready to commence the walk. The walk dates fit in with trans Tasman air services to Christchurch, connecting rail/bus services, and time to buy food/fuel before leaving Christchurch. The line of transport between Sydney and the Park is excellent.
An information sheet giving details is available from the leader, Bill Gamble, telephone-389-9071.
by Barry Wallace.
The President had to gong the gong several times before the noise level subsided, and the 35 or more members present took their seats and permitted the meeting to begin at around 2022. There were apologies from Bruce Hart and John Newman.
As is becoming customary there were many new members to welcome, with badge, constitution and list. Sharon Kinsella came forward from a previous G.M., Elizabeth Ratcliff, Steven Lengakiss, Peter Ray and Janet Waterhouse were all there, and only Bronwyn Stowe and Bruce Hart (previous apology accepted) did not show.
The Minutes were read and received with a minimum of fuss and no business arising.
Correspondence saw letters in from Peter Harris on the S.W. Tassie dams issue, from Joe Turner acknowledging our letter of thanks, from the Paddy Pallin Foundation, from the Premier of N.S.W. in answer to our letter an the Kosciusko National Park Plan of Management and a letter of resignation from Ann Percy. There were letters out to: all our new members, to Mrs. L. Dutch of Mountain Lagoon in thanks for her help in the recent S. & R. in that area, and to Newcastle Bush Walkers an sharing the costs of car usage. There was also mention of a rather abrupt letter from Shoalhaven Council enquiring as to why legal action should not be taken against us for erecting the picnic shelter at Coolana, when they could find no record of us having obtained a building permit (and paid a fee no doubt). We have advised them of the details of the permit which they issued to us at the time.
The Treasurer's Report indicated that we began the month with $1796.57, received $1741.43 and disbursed $240.77 to achieve a closing balance of $3,297.23.
So then it was on to the heady stuff of which Walks Reports are made.
Over the weekend of 12,13,14 November Ian Debert led what was programmed as a test walk down Burnt Flat Creek and back again, Tony Marshall's Kanangra/Kowmang River li-lo trip did not go, and Jo Van Sommers had 29 starters on her Benowie Track walk, reporting polluted water most of the way. Jim Brown led 18 people on his Hacking River, Muddy Creek ramble. They reported muggy going and not much water for swimming.
The following weekend, 19,20,21 November, Jim Laing had 8 members, one prospective and one visitor on his Tallowa Dam, Ettrema Creek walk. Conditions were very hot and swimming was the order of the weekend. The visitor was none other than Margurite Wyborn on a visit from Canada. Peter Miller led 6 people on his Newnes trip. Conditions were hot so they camped an Rocky Creek and returned as they had come, along the fire trail. There was no report of Peter Hislop's “GAS” (sic.) weekend from Bundeena to Otford but Gordon Lee reported 5 people on his Glenbrook - details-to-be-advised walk. Joe Marton led a party which started out as 18 and sort of dwindled away, on his Waterfall to Otford day walk. It seems one person dropped out early to avoid the rush and another 9 abandoned ship at Werong Point. There was some swimming and they, whether full party or remnant, caught the 1835 train.
The weekend of 27,28 November saw the Club musos flexing their various instruments, and George Gray flexing lengths of leaf-resistant guttering on the Club's land at Coolana. The annual barn dance/shindig attracted around 100 participants, some of whom partied-on to 0100 hours Sunday, or so it was reported. The latter part of Sunday was rainy, but warm.
David Rostron led a party of 11 people and a number of ropes on his Davies Canyon trip over the weekend of 3,4,5 December. The weather was superb, and the canyon beaut - they say. That same weekend Jim Percy had 14 starters struggling through a long Saturday to an easy Sunday on his Blackhorse Ridge, Splendour Rock, Cox River walk. There was also a Search and Rescue practice that same weekend at Mount Wilson. There were around 30 present and, unlike Jim Percy's mob, they had an easy Saturday, with discussions, radio practice and procedures meetings. Sunday was all work. They formed 8 search teams, each with radio set, and searched for, found and carried out a “missing party”.
Frank Woodgate's Glenbrook walk attracted 3 members and one prospective. The weather was fine and they spent some time swimming. Derek Wilson had 19 people on his Audley to Heathcote walk. One of these dropped out after viewing slides at the Ranger Station. Which must be one of the more curious endings for a Walks Report.
The Federation Report brought news of conservation matters. F.B.W. are seeking information on vehicle damage in areas on or around the Deua River. Mention was made of the long-awaited N.S.W. Government policy statement on rainforest. Sand mining in the Wollongambe catchment is to be suspended pending further study of the effects on the area.
The Search and Rescue section reported on the recent incident in the Mountain Lagoon area and appealed for more people to attend S. & R. exercises and mountain leadership courses.
General Business saw a motion passed that the Club arrange a leadership course for members and prospectives.
Then it was only a matter of announcements and it was all over for another month - at 2113. Oleee!
A major part of the Blue Mountains National Park has been closed indefinitely so wildlife and flora can recover from bushfires.
About 30,000 hectares of the Grose Valley was destroyed by fires which also killed an American bushwalker in November.
Steps and stairways were destroyed and rock slides and trees blocked tracks and roads.
Members are reminded that any amendments to the Constitution which are to be debated at the Annual General Meeting in March, should be submitted to reach the Secretary in time for inclusion in the agenda for the meeting - not later than the February General Meeting (9th February 1983).
Barbara Bruce, Hon. Secretary.
by John and Heather White.
Back copies of “The Sydney Bushwalker”, especially the 1950's - 1960's, (their main walking period). Owing to an Act of God (or Man?) their original copies were lost in the bushfire at Mt. Tomah.
Please contact Tine or Don Matthews at 84-3514 if you can help.
by Spiro Hajinakitas.