A Monthly Bulletin devoted to matters of interest to The Sydney Bush Walkers, 5 Hamilton Street, Sydney.
|Business Manager||Brien Harvey|
|Publication Staff||Misses Doreen Harris, Jessie Martin, Dot.English, Grace Edgecombe; Messrs. Bill Mullins, Arthur Salmon.|
|Results of Sports Carnival Events, 1939||2|
|Find the Spot||by “One Who Tried”||3|
|At Our Own Meeting||4|
|From Here, The & Everywhere||5|
|Off the Beaten Track||by W. Hall||7|
|“Sanctuary”||by R.E. Robinson (quotation)||8|
|Bushcraft||by C. Clark (reprinted)||9|
|Highlights||by Morris Stephenson||12|
|Mt.Hay from the Grose||by Marie B. Byles||13|
|Memories of the Nymboida||by Ossie Brownlee||15|
The Honorary Walks Secretary has asked us to announce that the Federation's Search and Rescue Weekend is wrongly shown on the current Walks Programme, as it was arranged for the second week-end in September. Therefore, all walks listed for the first week-end, 2nd/3rd September, will be held on the second week-end, 9th/lOth September, and those replaced will be switched to the 2nd/3rd September. Please reverse the dates on your Walks Programme.
The Federation extends a very hearty invitation to all members of affiliated clubs to attend the Annual Conference to be held at 7.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 16th August, at the Royal Zoological Society's Rooms, 28 Martin Plaee, Sydney. All constructive criticism welcomed!
The Club's Honorary Historian, Charles Pryde, is tired of waiting for all those details of exploratory trips, etc. for which he hap asked various old members. He now announces that the history is “going to press” on August 31st, 1939, with or without them. So hurry up, old members, or your trips will be omitted from the First Edition!
The Railway Department is feeling very poor and is cutting down various services. One train that has been cut out is the 1.20 p.m. on Saturdays to Katoomha etc. Another is the 8.40 a.m. on Sundays to Waterfall and the South Coast. No new timetables are being issued so it is necessary to check up on all trains by personal enquiry.
|1/2 mile run||A. Whillier||1st||W. Hall||2nd|
|3 Legged Race||J. Woods & Y. Douglas||1st||J. West & B. Harvey||2nd|
|Time Judging||A. Salmon|
|Women||J. West||1st||W. Duncombe||2nd|
|Broad Jump||Men||J.Crosby||1st||M. Swift||2nd|
|Women||S. Porter||1st||J. West||2nd|
|Hop, Step & Jump||Men||J. Woods||1st||A. Watts||2nd|
|Women||J. West||1st||Joyce Trimble||2nd|
|Walking Championship||Men||W. Hall||1st||A. Whillier||2nd|
|100 Yards Race||Men||J. Woods||1st||A. Watts||2nd|
|Women||J. West||1st||A. Collins||2nd|
|Prospective Members 100 yards race||Men||J. Crosby||1st||N.Hellyer||2nd|
|Women||J. Atthill||1st||J. Hocking||2nd|
|Direction Finding||Men||A.Wyborn||1st||B. Ash||2nd|
|Peanut Scramble||Men||A. Barrett||1st|
Change is his mistress, chance his counsellor;
Love cannot hold him; duty forge no chains;
The wide seas and mountains call him,
And the grey dawns know his camp fires in the rain.
By “One Who Tried”
We were peacefully eating a late Sunday breakfast at the Sports Carnival, when we heard the loud voice of an Official ask, “Any starters for 'Find the Spot'”? “Come on”, said my friend, putting his breakfast on one side, “I won this once, its great fun, and it doesn't take long.” “What is it” I asked. “Direction finding”, he explained, “They give you a piece of paper with directions on it, such as '45N', that means you walk 45 yards North from a given point, and so follow the directions down the list, and you should come somewhere close to the “Spot” previously marked out by the Officials. Everyone's directions are different, but they all lead to the same point, and the competitor finishing nearest the “Spot” is the winner.”
That sounds easy, I said to myself, and, carefully placing my porridge near the fire, to keep warm, I set off with my friend to receive my little list.
At first it looked to me like a Chinese Laundry account, but when I had orientated it, I saw that the first line said “450W” - Walk 450 yards West - Good - but, where was west? I wracked my brains, where did that sun set the previous evening? Then I remembered that I had come into camp at dusk and had not seen it set at all. The folly of lying abed late was now made apparent. I hadn't seen the sun during the early morning either, and it had long since retired behind heavy clouds, and was of no assistance whatever.
I set off in what I hoped was a Westerly direction and began to pace out 450 yards. I counted and muttered my way along, hoping that instinct would automatically stop me when I had covered the required distance. I was concentrating hard when, suddenly I tripped over a stone hidden in the long grass. Dash! I had lost count of my steps and what's more had rolled over and come up facing the wrong direction!
Tenderly nursing a bruised shin, I decided to try the next direction on the list. It was “150 N.E.”, -North East, now where would that be? I wet my finger and tried to “Find the Wind” like they do on sailing ships. Somebody had said, that morning, that the wind was a South Westerly, and I thought – anyway, there was no wind, so, liking the look of a hillock ahead, I strolled to the top to see the view. And what did I see? The competitors had spread themselves over the whole countryside in an endeavour to find this elusive “Spot”. I saw one girl crawling on hands and knees through some prickly bushes just below me, and another blithely hopping from rock to rock down a creek bed. One lad was heading, straight and sure, towards a small town away on the horizon, but over in the -er -er, “something” direction on my left, I beheld one young married member carefully picking her way around the tombstones in the local churchyard!
A little later, a large, panting dog rushed past, followed by his master, very red in the face, both looking exhausted. They had come a long, hard way. Once more I consulted my list - I paced and counted my way along, first in this direction, and then that, but something must have gone wrong somewhere, for then I stopped to look around again, the camp site had disappeared, and an orchard, I had not noticed before, had appeared upon a nearby ridge. No humans were in sight, but some cattle, a little way off, eyed me with distrust and I returned the compliment.
I felt that I had been walking for a long time, and I was hungry. Thoughts returned to my abandoned breakfast. Then a “lost” kind of sensation came over me - I remembered the S. & R. and cheered up. I gave a lusty coo-ee. No reply. Presently, from a distance, I heard a feeble shout. Following the sound I skirted some thick scrub and there, through the trees, was the camp again.
Competitors were still struggling in from all points of the compass, blood stained knees and dusty clothes reminiscent of a test walk rather than a Sports Carnival Event.
Soon we were all congratulating the fair haired lass who was announced the winner.
I wandered back to camp - the fire was dead, my breakfast was stone cold, but what did it matter, I had had a morning's exercise, explored the countryside and had, at least, tried to “Find the Spot” – besides, I always did like a cold snack for lunch!
Rather more than the usual number of members attended our July meeting. The first business was to move a “suspension of standing orders”, so that a presentation, on behalf of members, could be made to President Richard Croker in honour of his recent marriage.
The Club also has a wedding present for Ian Malcolm, but as he is living in the country we shall not have the pleasure of handing this to him personally. We were pleased to welcome as a new member, Mr. Harold Lade; Mr. Bill Burke is also a new member, but, as he was away on a trip, he will receive his badge later.
Arising from the Minutes about the dangerous state of the Clear Hill Ladders, an interesting discussion took place. Myles Dunphy pointed out that what is generally called “The Wallaby Track” is actually marked on the map, “Duncan's Pass.” Myles was particularly anxious that the correct name should be used as it commemorates the first descent from Clear gill, which was made by Frank Duncan and party. Jack Debert, who was one of that party, pointed out that Frank Duncan did not use the Wallaby Track but climbed down where the ladders are now. The meeting decided to use the name “Duncan's Pass”, and was pleased to learn that the Federation is arranging for a working bee to mark and improve this track.
Another thing Myles pointed out was that there is a “Wallaby Parade” along the cliffs from Glen Raphael Head to Glen Raphael Creek and this was explored and named by members of the Mountain Trails Club many years before the route down from Clear Hill was discovered.
We were very pleased to learn that Mrs. Carlon has been re-elected as Honorary Member of the Club.
It was suggested by Jack Debert that the Federation be asked to reduce the cost of the Ball Tickets to 6/6d. which could be collected at the door, although the tickets have been issued, showing the cost of 7/6d each. It was agreed to follow this suggestion.
Mr. Jim Liddy has tendered his resignation which was accepted with regret.
Miss D. Lawry moved that a letter of protest on various matters be written to the Royal Life Saving Society; firstly complaining that the erection of a new Secretary's office deprived us of about 70 sq. ft. of space, as well as cutting off the windows supplying a through current of air, and suggesting that a reduction of rent might be considered; secondly, pointing out that three of the club's pictures had disappeared, and, as it was supposed that they were inside the new office, ask that they be returned to the clubroom; further to request that hooks for hats and coats be supplied for use of members. Lastly, protesting about the very dirty condition of the room and furniture. The meeting resolved that the letter should be written.
Miss Norah Ankerson advised that the Bunyips Walking Club had held its first annual meeting and was now in its second year of existence. She asked for Leaders for Bunyip Walks. Miss Ankerson, as advisory secretary, asked that each Club should sponser one walk per year and should pay expenses over 3d per head for six children from some charitable institution or poor district. The meeting agreed to this proposal.
The Club would like to see more of our members as Honorary Rangers. Would those people interested please forward their names to the Secretary.
It was with much regret that her resignation as Club delegate to the Federation, was received from Miss Dorothy Lawry. Reason? Overwork.
Just before the meeting closed the Hon. Treasurer again reminded members that subscriptions were not coming in as well as they should – Now then, folks, what about that 10/-?
Elsewhere in this issue we reprint part of an article on “Bushcraft” that appeared in this year's “New Zealand Alpine Journal”, the balance of Mr.Clarke's remarks are not applicable to AUstralian conditions. The splendid mountain photos in this excellent Journal will be admired, and probably envied by all the photopraphers who borrow it from the Club Library. All members interested in map making should also study the interesting article on “Mapping from Photographs” written by the New Zealand Surveyor General. Unfortunately we cannot reproduce the diagrams and articles here.
This is a good world. We need not approve of all the items in it, nor of all the individuals in it; but the world itself, which is more than its parts or individuals, which has a soul, a spirit, a fundamental relation to each of us deeper than all other relations – is a friendly world. It has borne us; it has carried us onward; it has humanized us and guided our faltering footsteps throughout the long and slow advance; it has endowed us with strength and courage.
It has proved a real vale of soul-making for us humans, and created for us visions, dreams, ideals which are still further moulding us on eternal lines. It is full of tangles, of ups and downs. There is always enough to bite on, to sharpen wits on, to test our courage and manhood.
– J. C. Smuts.
By W. Hall.
From Lawson our objective was Blue Mountains Trig. Here we climbed the stone pile and examined the terrain tf the country we were to traverse. The route, which was along the ridge between Wentworth and Woodford Creeks, consisted of numerable high knobs that dropped down to low saddles. At times the ridge was difficult to follow. The rock formation was sandstone, but, unlike such areas in our coastal regions, it was covered with luxuriant forest growth and some of tee slopes, particularly from the low saddles, were just a mass of soft green ferns in which lurked the fierce lawyer vine. This latter fact we discovered to our discomfort when two of us, at lunch time, went down to one of the creeks for water and came back with our legs severely scratched.
In the afternoon the undergrowth had become more dense and we resorted to long trousers to protect our legs. Frequently loitering on the broken sandstone escarpments that reared high above Wentworth Creek, we were amazed that such views of this area existed. Looking down, we could trace the course of the creek, in which the water seemed sunken in a never-ending gorge. Rising high in the sky were the mountains Hay, King George and Tomah. To the east we could see the low land of the coastal plains. We found it hard to leave such magnificent scenery, but time was fleeting and we did not know what was ahead of us; however, the ridge ended, and we dropped down to the junction of Wentworth and Woodford Creeks at 4.30 p.m. The creek bed was rough and at dusk we camped in a level patch of scrub.
There the Secretary of the Federation's Conservation Bureau showed his industriousness by quickly clearing an area of vegetation. Perhaps it was his practical answer to the controversy, “What is Conservation?” that takes up so much space in the “Sydney Bushwalker” at present!
Leaving camp next morning, we found the creek had become even more rough, and at times our pace must have been less than a mile an hour; then suddenly the character of the creek altered and the thick scrub and big boulders gave way to a bank of flat rock. It was a peculiar rock formation and must have extended for at least half a mile. It made walking pleasant and even the mask-like countenance of Max Gentle showed approval.
At the Grose River we turned downstream to Linden Creek and there, in the cool water we had a quick plunge, and lunched on a huge rock in the middle of the river. We then climbed the ridge downstream from Linden Creek, searching often to find chimneys and easy ledges. At the top we had a wonderful view of the middle Grose areas. Far down below was the river and high on either side, viewed from a different angle, were the mountains we saw yesterday, while downstream, through the gap that the Grose has carved, was the low country.
It was getting late and some miles had to be covered; the days were barely long enough to fit in the miles; regretfully we followed the ridge and picked up the Faulconbridge track to the railway station.
Deep in the wooded hills there is a place
Where tall and stately trees with quiet grace
Stand back to make of grass and flowers a space.
And I would reach that place as Day is sped,
And pitch my tent, and make of leaves my bed,
And hear the forest breathing overhead.
And when the golden shafts of light slant through
The aisles, O then to find the world anew!
And walk barefoot through grasses drenched with dew.
The golden clouds float o'er the sinking sun;
Golden the woodlands as I hasten on,
And I would reach that place as Day is done.
– Roland E. Robinson.
Reprinted from “The Sydney Morning Herald”.
There's always something fresh at Paddy's! The latest is a 6'6“ x 6 Poncho - an outsize in groundsheets with a head hole in the middle - it makes a great poncho-style cape with the flap cunningly contrived into a collar.
Laid out flat and doubled over it can be buttoned up into a waterproof sleeping-bag 6'6” long and 3' wide - and the price folks, is a mere 17/6d.
Featherweight ladies' jackets - oiled silk - weight 3 3/4 ozs. Price 19/6d.
Don't forget the “coolie” jackets - they are hot stuff and 30/-.
Sheath Knives that float! How's that for you Mr. Golightly, (and you, Mr. Canoeist-who-gets-tipped-out)? 3/11d with sheath.
227 George Street, SYDNEY
Part of an Article by C.Clark and reprinted from The New Zealand Alpine Journal, June 1939
Bushcraft may be defined as the art of finding one's way in the wilderness and getting along well by utilising Nature's storehouse. When one travels with a guide, it is the guide's bushcraft that pulls him through. When he goes alone, he must play the woodsman himself. No written work can teach a man how to master the art, but it can at least be a stepping stone for a beginner. Broad principals can be given, and what not to do can be stressed.
First and foremost in bushcraft is the art of not becoming lost. I place this first because the leader, in losing his way, takes his companions with him. If he and his party are overdue, as a result, those at home are worried, search parties are sent out, and considerable concern is felt generally for their safety.
Leadership, as in most things, is the important factor. The leader should be selected because of his greater knowledge and ability to lead. It is his duty to see that included in equipment are a compass and the best available maps. He should study the map carefully, until a rough picture of the country is in his mind, together with a sound knowledge of the tracks.
There are three kinds of hush tracks – formed tracks, blazed tracks and no tracks! Formed tracks present no difficulty, even to the novice. Blazed tracks are sometimes difficult, owing to their age, their poorness or their insufficiency. The two main points in following a blaze are to look for it well in advance, and to stop when it is lost. Usually one can see two or three chains ahead and pick up distance blazes, and as a result make much better time than by continually searching nearby trees. When you lose the blaze, do not blunder on, hoping to strike it again. The first move is for the leader to stay where he is and send one member of the party to the right and one to the left. The elusive blaze will soon be found. If you intend to return by the same route fix it well by hand blazing. This consists of each member of the party hand-breaking small branches and fern fronds as they walk past.
We now come to the most interesting part of bush travel - the virgin trail. If the route lies up a ridge or down a stream, there is no difficulty. If the route is down a ridge, great care must be exercised to keep to that ridge and not be led into a tangled creek bed by a secondary spur. When the trail leads upstream, one must be careful not to be led astray by a tributary. The junction with the main stream is frequently concealed by heavy timber, and might easily be overlooked.
The route through flat, virgin bush is the most difficult and the most interesting to the bush lover. Believe it or not, the satisfaction of arriving at the spot you aim at is almost as great as that derived in reaching the summit of a snowclad peak. It is here that your compass is overworked. Before entering the bush, fix by compass the direction of your route. Observe all outstanding features that may be visible on your journey.
The compass should be carried in the hand for the purpose of constant checking. As you travel, fix your route by trees as far into the bush as you can see. Endeavour to keep two trees in line, and as you come to the near one, fix your route by another beyond the distant one. Alternate your track round obstacles, first right and then left. It is on this work that the leader has to out-Mussolini Mussolini. Talking of anything likely to distract him from his task must be forbidden. Advice re route, unless asked for, should not be given. Always remember the leader is in front, has his mind solely on the job and sees more than the other members. Constant advice will rattle him, with a subsequent loss of confidence. Be careful, when fording rivers or avoiding large obstructions such as heavy undergrowth or windfalls, that the route is resumed in the right direction.
It is a good principle to travel fast and rest regularly and frequently, if necessary. Always stop on the line of your route. If the stop is to be for any duration, for, say, a boil-up, leave your packs lying on this line.
If you do get lost, don't get rattled. Sit down and have a smoke or a snack. You are not the first to get boxed – almost every bush traveller has experienced the same sensation. Study your map carefully and fix your approximate position on it. You know how many hours you are away from a known mark, the number and direction of streams you have crossed. Again, don't become panicky. A little sane thinking and all is clear. One could fill this volume on what to do and what not to do in certain circumstances, but the foregoing general principles will generally pull you clear.
When the question of the price of the tickets for this year's Bushwalkers' Ball was raised at the Federation Meeting on June 23rd. the Hon. Secretary explained on behalf of the Hon. Organiser of the Ball that the tickets were already printed and issued. Some members of the Organising Committee wished the price reduced to 6/6d, but, as there was no opportunity of obtaining Council's authority for such a reduction before shortage of time necessitated the printing of the tickets, last year's price of 7/6d had been adhered to. (For the S.B.W. reaction to this announcement see “At Our Own Meeting” in this issue.-Ed.).
The Railway Department regrets that it cannot urge upon the National Park or Kuring-gai Chase Trusts the need for keeping open hikers' tracks as such action would set a precedent that might lead to endless requests for similar action in other parts!
The M.T.C. wrote protesting against the excessive use of firewood by some campers in The Blue Gum Forest. This protest was passed on to the Trust.
A complaint was received that a walker (said not to be a member of any affiliated club) had upset a number of visitors at Governor Game Lookout by walking past clad only in vees. Although not directly concerned, the Federation decided to circularise all clubs, asking them to urge ypon all their members the desirability of attiring themselves in such a way as not to antagonise other people whom they may meet.
The Meeting Place Sub-committee reported that it was having difficulty in finding a suitable room as rents were proving to be higher than anticipated.
The report from the Corral Swamp Waterhole Sub-committee was received, and the recommendation made will be acted upon when the weather gets warmer.
Three Federation representatives on the proposed Joint Committee to investigate the Blue Mountains National Park scheme were elected - Messrs. Alex Colley, Jack Debert and Campbell Morris. The N.P.P.A.Council will also have three representatives on this Joint Committee.
The Federation decided to write to the Erina Shire Council, the Bouddi Natural Park Trust, and the N.R.M.A. protesting against a proposal to construct a road to Little Beach, which is in the Park, the information having been published in the N.R.M.A.'s journal. We understand the protest was effective.
A report having been received that three more banksias had revently been destroyed near Kingfisher Pool, the Federation decided to approach the Forestry Commission for notices regarding the destruction of trees and to offer to put up any such notices for the Commission. It was decided also to approach the Department of Works and Local Government for some wildflower protection notices for the area.
The S.B.W. having reported that the ladders at Clear Hill are again in a dangerous condition, the Federation decided to arrange for a working-bee to mark and improve the alternative track, and, if necessary, cut away the dangerous ladders. Mr. Newell of the Rucksack Club was appointed to organise this working-bee, which should be well supported by the S.B.W.
A delegate reported that recently a walker made arrangements and counted on getting food from “Branjan” but, although he waited there for three days, he got no food. It was suggested that the matter should be reported to the various clubs so that members could make their arrangements to avoid any similar disappointment.
“There being no further business”, the meeting closed at 10.10 p.m. having started at about 6.35 p.m.
by Marie B. Byles.
No district provides more magnificent views of the rugged grandeur of the Grose Valley than the country around Mount Hay, and yet few go there because it has the reputation of being dry and inhospitable, and of providing no easy round trip. In point of fact there is good water below green swamps to be found in almost every valley and by going down not more than two hundred feet; and the round trip via Three Knob Hill, Lockleys Pylon, the Grose Valley and back over Mount Hay (or vice versa) can be done in a one-and-a-half day week-end, and easily done in a two-day week-end. The way on to or off Mount Hay is the only difficulty and from time to time one hears of people who have failed to locate it.
From the bottom it is easy; you follow down the Grose from The Blue Gum Forest until you see the first green valley reaching right to the top, and you go up it, and that is all. But from the top all gullies look alike, those that end in sheer cliffs appearing just as attractive as those that do not.
However, if you take the military survey map and follow these directions there is no difficulty. You go round or cross over Mount Hay on the Grose Valley side, where a narrow col (Australian “saddle” Ed.) takes you to a conspicuous rocky pile, Venus Beacon. You pass to the right of this (i.e. on the opposite side to Grose Valley) and also to the right of the next hump, a densely wooded one, and this takes you onto the main ridge, which is some way back from the Grose, and keeps you away from an attractive spur with marvellous views of the Grose but leading you prematurely towards its depths.
When on the main ridge and past the wooded hump, neglect the first large gully and the second one, and take the third - about 1 1/2 hours' walk beyond Mt. Hay. You can locate this gully on the military survey as the only one whose stream is made to join the Grose. In fact, it has no water in it at all, but that does not matter. From the topography of the country you can locate it as the last gully to join the Grose before its cliffs narrow down into an extraordinarily perfect bottle-neck; or as joining the Grose lower down than the two green gullies you can see on the opposite side running straight up from the river to the Mount Caley (or “Catey”) plateau.
“Late in the afternoon a high wind rose, and great gusts of wind came roaring across the hilltops. Though calm and still in the gullies, the hill-crests seethed with swishing foliage. Once the obverse happened. We stood on a high ridge and looked down into a wide gum-wooded valley. All the movements of a troubled sea were pictured in that wind-tossed hollow - the long sweeps of crested billows, and the deep swelling troughs between; while ever and anon arose the surge of the wind like the dirge of the sea.”
- Archer Russell.
By Ossie Brownlee.
Our two canoes “Alaska” and “Checkers” having been despatched a fortnight earlier, Christmas night saw us eagerly scrambling aboard the crowded 10.25 train for Grafton.
Two can't sleep on a three piece suite…. nor can eight men sleep in one compartment. What a sight it must have been for the guard when, some hours later, he discovered four sleeping-bag clad figures on the wash-room floor! What supreme authority he must have experienced in kicking us out!
On arrival, at South Grafton, four stiff and dishevelled males stepped out. An hour was spent in finding “Checkers”. The canoe had been consigned to a certain Mr. T., who, on going to Yamba had consigned it to somebody else and he, in turn, had consigned it to somebody else, and hied himself to Yamba. It seemed that nobody except us wanted “Checkers”, but somebody had her. To this day we don't know who found her, but the lorry driver told a gripping tale of his search for the owners.
That night we slept peacefully on the banks of the Nymboida. With the dawn came the DAMN flies, and after breakfast eaten on the run, we commenced our trip.
The river was three feet below normal summer level and the receded waters had left the granite borders covered with slime. What promised to be our best “canike”. The banks at this stage were covered with bottle-brush, thicker than mangroves on any coastal stream. We struggled eight miles and camped.
That night we prayed for rain.
Next day the river blushed crimson as we cursed, slipped and dragged our canoes, under a blazing sun, to a point where Cunglebung Creek usually flows into the Nymboida. The creek was dry.
Here insult was added to injury as a portage of some half mile was necessary to negotiate an impassable stretch. The river here cascaded over two falls descending into the gorge. The rapids in the gorge were fiendish looking and usually dropped 2-7 feet in height. If we had had the additional three feet of water they would have commanded the utmost respect, but now the water merely trickled over them. It was a pleasure when we floated out into the long, still pool where the Mann River came in on our left, and directly ahead could be seen the picturesque bark hut of Mt. Ferry.
This gentleman is an Inspector, of Stock, but is better known as a Tick Inspector (or Dodger). He constructed his own abode with slabs and bark and it contains two rooms and two verandahs. His home is entirely covered with passionfruit vines and would, I know, be one of the tastiest and coolest northern resorts in Summer.
Next morning, Max and Barney, being fed up with walking, stayed to mend the canoes, while I took Rex for a little stroll up the Mann after photos. He swore never to go strolling with me again.
The remainder of our stay was spent in talking, eating, fishing and then eating the fish we caught. From Mr. Ferry's verandah we could see miles of rubbish ahead and our farewell to this kindly man was a supreme effort - a quarter mile of (censored) boulders!
The country was now more open and, if possible, more beautiful. Such magnificent scenery as the Bridal and New Zealand Falls, could never be equalled - not even in the Canadian Rockies. If we only had had a movie camera and coloured films!
Rain. Our prayers were answered by a terrific downpour which soaked us, filled our canoes and made no difference to the river. Emptying out, we rounded a corner and staggered up to the Jackadgerry Post Office. A small township which only boasts a Wine-Bar to keep the Postal section company. The others made acquaintance and thus obtained a dry bed for the night in Austin's Hut. While we slept Barney made a damper - strangely enough it was quite good.
“Happy New Year” From this day we will not take notice of farmers as regards their knowledge of the river they live on. This resolution and reason for making it resulted when a certain Mr.L. told us we could not possibly get through the stretch of rubbish which now confronted us, but by a very skilful effort, could cut off a two mile bend.
Taking his advice, we carried the packs a mile overland and returned another mile, then we dragged the canoes to the spot where the packs were. Great work! Three miles to cut off a two mile bend. This overland marathon taught us a lesson. We'd hate to meet Mr. L. on April 1st.
After this trek we paddled wearily through a stretch of beautiful open water and called it a day.
Next morning, bright and early we passed the low level bridge below Cangai. Barney and I visited Hanging Rock Station and we were presented with morning tea (?) and scones. Finally I had to drag somebody away otherwise we would not have made much progress with a drunken skipper in one of the boats. HOWLS rent the air when we finally returned to the other two. Another low level bridge and after another four miles of agonising hauling, we pitched camp.
On the morrow we lunched at the junction of the Clarence. The mighty Clarence which the boys would have paddled past but for the Navigation Officer.
Entering the Clarence gorge, we came across a “Tough” rapid. We had not shot one for some time so we decided that we would try it. Rex and Barney blazed the trail and half way down one of the crew deserted.
“It can't be done, said he.
“It can be done”, said Max and me, then we proceeded to show him how.
It was a stout effort but the last foot spelt disaster and “Alaska” went down with all hands. After rescuing the gear which floated calmly about the river, we took stock. The loss was terrific. “Algie” was gone (a tortoise 7/8” long) and the blessed rabbit, the only thing the boys shot after wasting rounds of ammunition. Finally all hope was abandoned.
We made camp shortly afterwards and mended the canoes. We were just above the first waterfall and the river could be heard booming and thundering above the snores of my fellow “canikers”.
The Gorge, or more rightly, the Canyon, which we now had to negotiate was something entirely new to us. The scenery was awe inspiring yet beautiful in its ferocity.
Even the continual flow of the river through the centuries has been unable to wear a smooth passage through its volcanic bed and has willy nilly taken whatever course offered. At this junction it divides itself into four and flows unevenly over a 30 foot wall and thrashes its way through the craggy channel immediately below. This was grandeur. Matching itself to its surroundings the river rode darkly in swirling streams.
At intervals along its course, the river takes a breather, as it were, in deep pools, and looking into their dark and sinister depths, one has a feeling of the many secrets they could engulf. Not even the blazing sun can redeem their sombre depths.
Careering along its way, but for these “breathers”, the river finally emerges into more or less placid waters. The rocks end abruptly here and “Winters” farm is to be found on the right bank.
We portaged our canoes below the waterfalls and lowered them into the river by means of ropes. Paddling through its mile and a half of length one realises what an insignificant, puny thing, man is.
Below “Winters” farm we camped, and Barney placed George and Peter, our other two tortoises, in the river for their nightly swim. Tragedy….. next morning they were dead. They were given a sailors' burial and Barney was held for Tortoise Slaughter, to be tried at a later date. (Case proceeding).
That day our progress was swifter and farms were noticeable on either bank. After dragging one of Earl Page's cows out of a bog, we arrived at Gordon Brook Station. Here “Camel” and I (owing to time running out) had to place “Alaska” on the milk lorry and so into Grafton, to be beseiged by news hounds. I'm afraid that we weren't very informative.
Barney and Rex continued on down the Clarence and made their way leisurely into the Queen City of the North and so ended an epic fortnight.
The trip now only lives in memory, but in my album one hundred and one photographs seem to live and at times I hear the voice of a good mate saying “I don't mind walking.”
We love the open air, but best of all we love the murmur of the waters.
Our Secretary and Assistant Secretary, accompanied by Bill McCosker and “Bobbie” Cooper, are away disporting themselves on the snowfields of Victoria for three weeks. At the July meeting the indefatigable Brian Harvey, assisted by Evelyn Higginbotham, acted as Secretary.
You all know by this that the Sports Carnival this year was a great success. But did you hear that the Barretts got a new sidelight on the Fire Wood Throwing Contest? A large billet of wood flew right through their tent making a hole large enough to allow Arnie to crawl through the side and out the front door!
The Club dance held on 18th July, was a wonderful turnout. We were not there, but we have it on the best authority, that the sixty-nine folks who turned up had the time of their lives. It was voted the best Club Dance ever.
Speaking of dances – If you have no partner for the Federation Ball and are staying away on that account, well don't. Just let Social Secretary, Edna Garrard have your name. She is arranging a large Bushwalker party, so just come along, lots of partners and a very jolly evening is guaranteed.
Hec Carruthers and wife are receiving congratulations on the birth of a son. They have called him Gordon. Gordon Carruthers - Scots wa hae, n'all that! We'll has t'a get oor pipers tuned up to greet the bairn!
Said the little red rooster: “Gosh, all hemlock things are tough,
Seems that worms are getting scarcer, and I can't find enough;
What's become of all the fat ones is a mystery to me,
There were thousands through that rainy spell, but now where can they be?”
The old black hen who heard him, didn't grumble or complain,
She had gone through lots of dry spells, and had lived through floods of rain.
So she flew up on the grindstone, and she gave her claws a whet,
And said: “I've never seen the time there were no worms to get.”
She picked a hard and undug spot; the earth was hard and firm.
The little rooster jeered: “New ground? That's no place for a worm.”
The old black hen just spread her feet, she dug both fast and free.
“I must go to the worms,” she said, “The worms won't come to me.”
The rooster vainly spent his days, through habit, by the ways
Where fat worms had passed in squads, back in the rainy days.
When nightfall found him supperless, he growled in accents rough,
“I'm hungry as a fowl can be – conditions sure are tough.”
The old black hen hopped to her perch, and dropped her eyes to sleep,
And murmured in a drowsy tone: “Young man, hear this and weep;
I'm full of worms and happy, for I've dined both long and well,
The worms are there, as always, but – I had to dig like —-!”
—- —-? Reprinted from “Berlei Review” May/June 1939.