A monthly Bulletin of matters of interest to The Sydney Bush Walkers, C/o Ingersoll Hall, 255 Crown St., Sydney
|Editor||Jim Brown, 103 Gipps St., Drummoyne|
|Production and Business Manager||Brian Harvey|
|Sales and Subscriptions||Gladys Roberts|
|Typed by||Jean Harvey|
|Editorial - A Reason for Longevity||2|
|At the Half-Yearly General Meeting||3|
|Let Us Re-Une||5|
|Where to Re-Une (Map)||6|
|That Hardie Man Again - A letter from Dormie||7|
|Kurnell Peninsula (Australia's Birthplace) To Become Industrial Area||9|
|Green Grow the Wattles, O!||by Jim Brown||11|
|Death of a Tree||15|
|September Federation Notes||by Allen A. Strom||17|
|Many Happy's to S.B.W.||Paddy Pallin||22|
|Twenty-Fifth Birthday||by Kath McKay||23|
|The History of the Club Symbols||by Paddy Pallin||24|
|List of Secretaries||26|
|The Tigers||by Alex Colley||27|
|The First Gangerang Walk||by Maxwell Gentle||30|
|What Place-Names Mean To Us||by Myles J. Dunphy||32|
|Bushwalker Achievements in Conservation||by Ken Matthews||36|
|List of Presidents||39|
|Rabbits Among the Tigers||by Grace Noble||40|
In many things age does not necessarily denote virtue or wisdom. Indeed, many business concerns which have became institutions seem to have lived long by reason of ruthlessness - call it survival of the fittest if you prefer a euphemism.
As this Club prepares to celebrate its Quarter Century, one is tempted to enquire why we have lived so long, whether we have justified our existence, and if we may hope that the Club will continue to be.
Does that last thought sound so absurd, too gloomy? Does it seem impossible that the Club could fold up? If so, we should remember that Federation removed two Clubs from its list during last year, that several others are known to be virtually moribund, and that even our own walking activity is at a low ebb. It is not our intention to look for reasons here and now. There is a kind of negative comfort in the knowledge that other Clubs are less active.
Admitting that walking clubs may founder, why have we survived? Probably to some extent it is due to our direct and obvious name, which has helped ensure a healthy income of new members over the years. That same obvious name has caused us a few moments of distress when newspapers reported lost parties as “Sydney Bushwalkers” irrespective of their Club identity.
We are inclined to believe, however, that the main reason for our longevity is contained in the broad and intelligent charter set out in the Club's list of objects. This goes far beyond the purely physical aspect of recreational walking, with particular references to appreciation of the bushland and its creatures, and the ideal of encouraging and guiding others to a similar understanding.
Our Constitution is a tolerant one in that it does not demand that every member must be a vigorous and active walker: neither does it insist that each of us must be wrapped up in the good works of conservation beyond the basic care to leave the bush unhurt. There is room for people who belong to one of those compartments only, and for those who serve both causes. It is suitable for the transient walker who presently finds other interests and commitments, and the old hand, no longer walking frequently, who yet wishes to preserve the bush for other walkers. This gives the Club a measure of continuity and permanency which could never be achieved if we had no thought beyond walking, while the walking in turn keeps us informed of developments which may call for conservation action.
The last two of our original questions are almost answered by that answer. Have we justified ourselves? Yes, the Club has introduced hundreds of people to the mingled pleasures and hardships of bush walking. Before most other walking Clubs were formed, our members were pioneering ways in unmapped country and adding their weight to the cause of nature protection.
Will we continue to survive? Yes, while we do not allow ourselves on the one hand to become purely a walking machine, or on the other, a group of wordy conservationists who have no up to date knowledge of the bush we are talking about.
An Annual or Half-Yearly General Meeting without constitutional amendments is something like roast lamb without mint sauce. Perhaps he realised the deficiencies, for the President was at pains to cite the Constitution on the night of the September General Meeting. His first opportunity came shortly after new member George Grey had been introduced to the gathering, which was later to grow to a peak of about 75, when a motion was sought that the notice of the meeting be taken as read. Bill Cosgrove queried the validity of a Half-Yearly General Meeting on that particular evening - it should be the second Friday in the month. Oh no, said the President, the Constitution said “during September”. Perhaps Mr. Cosgrove had an out-dated copy? Well, perhaps he did. Well, perhaps we could provide him with a modern issue.
Then it was Lavender and Old Accounts as the minutes of a bygone era were read. The constitutional amendments of September 1951, with their “delete the word… and substitute therefore… before the word walker in the penultimate paragraph…” raised a well earned chuckle. Miraculously, there are always people with long memories prepared to move that the minutes be accepted as a correct record.
Correspondence contained sundry replies to our most recent campaigning on bush fire control, a letter which reported that the Victorian Mountain Tramping Club had devised a special walker's boot, priced at 55/- pair, sample to be viewed at Paddy's: a reply from the Minister for Local Government to our representations on sale of wild flowers (indicating that the matter was reviewed periodically, that our representations would be considered at the next review, and that other States had promised co-operation in control of protected species transported ex N.S.W.): also an appeal from the N.S.W. Ranger Patrol for the active support of bushwalkers. In explanation of the last, the President explained that the Patrol was a breakaway group of the Rangers' League, and that the Committee, after consideration, recommended to individual members that they consider joining its ranks.
The monthly financial statement and the Federation Report were duly read and received, without comment, in spite of the queries re Werong and a Bushwalker Annual Magazine raised by the latter.
Now the President arose to make a statement. The issue was the failure of many programme walks in recent months. There were, he agreed, many reasons why a trip may not go, but the pity of it was that Committee frequently heard of it from disgruntled members who had intended to join that trip. If a leader found he was unable to take his walk as planned, his correct course was to seek a substitute leader: if he could not find one, he could at least notify the Walks Secretary or President, who may be able to help. If he was suddenly prevented from taking his trip, he could at least report the matter, instead of allowing Committee to hear by “back door methods”. Again, when a trip could not be taken on the route originally intended because of flooded rivers or blocked railways, another trip elsewhere should be substituted. He concluded by reading the two appropriate clauses from the Objects in the Constitution, and requested the Club's co-operation in attaining a good stable walks programme.
We were through to General Business, with Brian Harvey quoting from Hansard. Mr. Alam, a member of the N.S.W. Upper House had made strong statements in the House concerning destruction of native flowers (see item in September Magazine). Brian moved that we write Mr. Alam expressing appreciation of his comments. Alex Colley suggested we first ascertain whether the facts cited in the House were supported by Mr. Burnside of the Ku-ring-gai Chase Trust, and this became a separate motion, both being carried.
Len Scotland spoke of the nUmercus little gravel pits which made unsightly scars on the landscape, and Betty Sisley expressed the opinion that most of this “quarrying” was done on permissive occupancies, and little could be done about it. John Noble referred to remarks in the Federal Parliament regarding the old Long Bay Rifle Range, and a project to open it to soldier settlement, which may destroy the wild flowers there. Could something be done to create a reserve of that portion where the flowers were most numerous? Lack of information caused the discussion to be vague. Could anything be done until and unless the land were transferred to State control? At present, with the land as a military area, it appeared safe, and people seemed to shun a rifle range. As the matter had been mentioned at the last Federation Council, which referred it to the Conservation Bureau, no decision was reached, but it was agreed to pass on the information to the Club's Conservation Secretary.
Clem Hallstrom asked if the monthly Treasurer's Statement was issued with the cognizance of the Auditor, and should the Auditor not check each report? He was moving in this direction, when the little green book was again quoted by the President. “The Auditor will be elected annually, and check all books etc. at least half yearly… will be a complete audit at each change of Club Treasurer…” Said Clem “Squashed!” with good humoured resignation.
It was the last flourish of the evening. With a small flurry of announcements, including the President's direful remark that this was the last call for subscriptions, the No.2 meeting of the year tapered off at 9 p.m.
The Bush Party, to follow the celebrations at the Dungowan, on the weekend 18/19 October will be held at “Springvale” (Dillon's) on the headwaters of Patonga Creek, about 4 miles from Woy Woy. The property is one used for camping by the Caloola Club, and is made available to us for this occasion by their courtesy.
On the opposite page a map illustrates the way to Springvale from Woy Woy.
Again, by courtesy of the Caloola Club, truck transport at 3/- return from Woy Woy station can be made available to the aged and infirm and those with kiddies (children travel free). Provisionally the truck will meet the trains leaving Central at 9.30 a.m. and 1.15 p.m. Those intending to avail themselves of the truck transport please 'phone Allen Strom (WB 2520, 2528, 2529 during business hours).
Cars can be brought to within approximately half a mile of the camping spot.
Note: Unlike the usual Annual Reunion, prospective members and visitors may come to this camp.
“Balholm, Norway. August 24th, 1952.
Since last writing I have completed a six weeks' tour of the British Isles, and now I am in the third week of a Cook's escorted tour through Scandinavia. On the 4th September I shall be sailing by the “Stirling Castle” for Cape Town, South Africa. Four weeks I intend to spend in Africa on an itinerary suggested by South African Railways, from Cape Town to Nairobi, whence I am flying overnight to Bombay, there to spend one week before leaving by the “Strathmore” by means of which I hope to arrive back in Sydney on November 17th.
My travels in the British Isles and Scandinavia have been made easier for me by the kind help of Frank Leyden, who allowed me to leave unnecessary equipment, maps and brochures I had collected at his home at Chelmsford. By the time I reached his home I must have increased the 70 lbs. I left Sydney with to 80, which load I reduced to about 60 lbs. for touring through the British Isles and still further to 40 lbs. for the Cook's Tour. This was made possible, I say, by making Frank Leyden's home my repository.
If Charlie Chaplin became famous by stimulating laughter, I consider I should be equally famous. When I arrived in Perth, W.A., reporters interviewed me, took pictures of me and my pack, and I believe I was featured in the following day's issue of the “Sunday Times”. In Venice, after nearly disembowelling a corpulent Italian that got in my way on a ferry going along the Grand Canal, the sight of me and my pack caused the boat to rock from stem to stern with laughter. Again, at Cologne in Germany a woman became hysterical with laughter when I appeared: and I could see her husband through self-consciousness trying to lead her away, but she kept on looking back at me, while she held a handkerchief to her face. At Inverness in Scotland a railway official told me I reminded him of Bill Kerr, and at Grasmere in the English Lakes District the warden of the Youth Hostel greeted me with the remark “I thought it was Bill Kerr coming along”.
In the British Isles , as on the Continent, I made the greatest use of Youth Hostels I could, in order to keep down expenses but, whereas on more than one occasion I visited an English hostel to be confronted with the notice “Hostel Booked out for tonight”, in Scotland I was never once refused admission to a hostel. When I explained to a warden that I came from Australia, he would forget his previous statement that the hostel was booked out, and would tell me to take bed number so-and-so, enjoining me “to keep quiet about it”. In consequence, those who had booked beds slept on the floor, whilst I slept in a bed. Such is the traditional hospitality of the Scotch that it is the policy of the Youth Hostel Movement there to make room for an overseas visitor. It is peculiar, too, that this kind of thing happened to me at Glencoe where in 1692 Scotsmen were butchered even in the act of offering hospitality.
Scotland I found to be the most colourful country of the British Isles: and Edinburgh, its capital, the most entrancing city. When say “colourful” I mean the natural landscape, and not gardens cultivated by the hand of man. Nothing can surpass the beauty of an English garden: but as regards Nature left to itself the Scottish landscape stands on its own. Even marshes and swamps in the north, around about Tongue and Thurso, have myriads of wild flowers in addition to the native heather. Nor does dullness of the sky or approaching rain detract from their charm, but rather enhances it. As I proceeded by bus from John of Groats (the most north easterly point of Scotland) to Wick I regretted that I had not sufficient time to walk through that part. It is little wonder that the Scotch came to use tartans to represent the different clans, because such colourful garb would be a mere reflection of the colourfulness of the countryside they were familiar with daily. But the Scotch have not a monopoly of the heather, I have found it growing profusely in Scandinavia: and I think that zealots will agree with me that the tiny bushes we find in spring on Narrow Neck peninsula are not unlike heather. Moreover, the Scottish blue bell grows in Scandinavia, except that it is more purple than blue. Still, I found Scotland to have the most colourful landscape of the British Isles.
I am now sojourning in a most fashionable hotel by Sognefjord, of which I shall have more to say in the future.
Yours, Allan Hardie.”
Frank Leyden reports also on the famous meeting:
Discovered Dormie in the Clapham deep air raid shelters and brought him out and slept him on my floor. Tried to persuade him not to take his axe to Scotland, as there are no trees. “I think I will take it”, he said, “It gives me confidence”.
In Hamburg they said to him “Why did you come and bomb our cities when we couldn't get at yours?” He had a wonderful trip on the Continent and cannot understand why English girls call him “Dearie”.
We talked and laughed loud and long into the night and I received an unbiassed account of some of the goings on at 256 Crown Street.
(Extract from an item by Mr. Hume, Secretary, Parks & Playgrounds Movement, received through our P. & P. Delegate, Mrs. H. Stoddart).
Long cherished hopes for the preservation of Kurnell Peninsula as a National Historic Monument have been dashed by the State Cabinet's decision to over-ride the ruling of the Cumberland County Council against the establishment of a £25-million oil refinery at Kurnell, the place on which Captain James Cook first set foot an Australia. Surely no other country would sanction the industrialisation of its birthplace, especially if it had the unique opportunity to preserve it that Australia had.
Mr. Cahill's own creation, the Cumberland County Council, especially set up by him to plan for land utilisation and development, and to prevent the intrusion of industry into areas set aside for open spaces, has been over-ridden by Cabinet and the County Plan dealt a staggering blow. A dangerous precedent has been created whereby any industrial concern may, by skilful lobbying and such other inducement as it may be willing to use (in this case £25,000,000) persuade the politicians to destroy the County Plan's most vital provisions: henceforth no open space or public recreation area can be considered safe.
The Captain Cook Landing Place Park is a lovely place, well cared for, and its historic features are protected and identified, but it has been developed largely as a pleasure park, and little is left there of the scene as Cook first saw it. Hence conservationists felt that preservation of the adjacent reserves was of the utmost importance to Australia.
In 1949, Mr. Sheahan, then Minister for Lands, granted, at the request of the conservation bodies, an additional reservation of 973 acres adjoining the Captain Cook Landing Place Park, for public recreation. This action gave great satisfaction to people who are concerned about the preservation of places of historic and scenic importance. The County Plan zoned the area as “open space”, and it was considered safe: but now 400 acres out of this reserve have been promised to the Oil Company.
Appeals to the Federal and State Governments to preserve the ground on which Australia was born fell on deaf ears. The Federal Government “passed the buck” to the State Government, displaying no interest whatever in the nationally important question of preservation of this historic ground.
Though many politicians expressed their views during the campaign for the preservation of the peninsula, and preservationists laid especial stress on the historic importance of the area, no politician made any public reference to this important consideration.
Kurnell Peninsula has been preserved up to now in its natural state. It is priceless land, which should be cherished by all Australians, and there is a sacred obligation on the present generation to hand it on to posterity, unspoiled, as it was received.
The oil refinery will stand as a witness to the everlasting shame of the politicians who so readily yielded this priceless heritage to commercial exploitation.
By Jim Brown.
I'll sing you one ho!
Green grow the wattles, O!
What is your one ho?
One is the Creek in Burragorang that I wanted long to follow.
Over the past three years, practically every winter programme has contained a threat to the isolation of Green Wattle Creek. Time and again it has appeared, under the aegis of various leaders: “Yerranderie - Bull Island Gap - Green Wattle Creek - Cox's River - Bimlow”. Time and again it has not been done. One party actually set out, but the flooded state of the Wollondilly halted them before they started walking. On other occasions bad weather, or counter attractions or lack of starters blocked it. So far as our Club was concerned, Green Wattle hadn't been “done” in something like 8 or 10 years. It was reaching the stage where one wanted to scream “Don't just sit there! Do something!” I decided to give it a fly.
I'll sing you two ho!
Green grow the Wattles, O!
What is your two ho!
Two, two, the men I sought to make the dash from Bimlow.
Three is the minimum safety number on a walk of that kind. I wanted two men, reasonably robust, but not so rugged as to make me wilt, who were not committed to the official walk of that week-end (May 31st to June 2nd). I found them in Frank Rigby and Neil Schafer. They were duly cautioned that it may not be easy; that frankly I thought two days was not enough time; that we may be overdue. They were willing. Frank was in the ranks of the “disemployed” and elected to ride his motor cycle to Central Burragorang and join us there. Because there is no regular 'bus service to Yerranderie on Friday night, we reversed the trip, going in from Bimlow.
I'll sing you three ho!
Green grow the Wattles O!
What is your three ho?
Three, Three, United…
I was a worried little boy on the 5.20 ex town that Friday for I hadn't spotted Neil. Somehow I missed him at Campbelltown, too, and it wasn't until we mutually appeared on adjoining carriage platforms as the train crept into Camden that I felt happy. The driver of the Bimlow bus told us that the Sunday afternoon trip from Yerranderie had been wiped about a fortnight before - so it looked like a special hiring or some hitch-hiking. Well, forward!
Frank was waiting for us at the store near Spring Corner, having parked his “two-stroke” there. It had been a grim ride over the corrugated road, with his lights dimming inconveniently on the pass. What the papers that week-end described as “tornadic squalls” lashed at the 'bus as we jaunted down the valley. A big black cloud swelled over the western walls as we de-bussed at Bimlow.
I'll sing you four ho!… etc…
Four for the miles on Friday.
We scurried off along the road, while the moon dropped behind the valley wall and the wind grew wilder and the night darker. We were within a mile of Cox Junction when the rain came, gently as first, so that we had time to pull on our groundsheets, then rattling on the stiff-cold material, driven like shot by the veering gale. It was still raining smartly when we came to the last turn before the junction and found a tumble-down shanty with gloriously dry brown earth underneath. We crawled in and made it our bivouac for the night. The rain stopped, but the wind continued to brawl around and through the interstices of the slab hut. It was cold, the ground hard and sprinkled with pebbles, but we slept.
I'll sing you five ho!… etc…
Five for the hours before we lunched.
We moved briskly on Saturday morning, considering it was almost seven when we tossed our gear into our packs and hurried down to the Junction. The sky was a painted blending of blue clad stormy cloud, but the wind had eased as we breakfasted in haste and made off shortly after 8. Half an hour up the Cox and we were in the valley of Green Wattle Creek, aptly named for its closely grown slender, tall wattles.
The road shown on the Jenolan map was there, but in ruinous shape, as were the several buildings marked on the map. It was a wide valley and we made fair time along the lower stretches, emerging after a time from the green canopy of wattle into a more open kind of forest, and passing through patches which must have been pasture, now overgrown with weed and bracken. We were in the big clearing at the junction of Fritz Creek for a halt at 10.30. It is rather a lovely spot, hemmed about by fine tawny cliffs, but its beauty was somewhat marred for us by the cloud driven up before a savage westerly gale, which was roaring like surf in the cliff top trees 1,500 feet above.
During the next hour and a half we donned and doffed our capes half a dozen times as the wind cleared and clouded the sky with unbelievable rapidity. Our way was still along a long-disused road, which was quite clear in places, and almost obscured in others. We mislaid it a few times, but the going through reedy grasses was never difficult. At noon we made our lunch halt. We were about 10 miles up the creek, and the valley was still wide and open, flanked by far cliffs.
I'll sing you six ho!… etc…
Six for our six tired ankles.
The scene began to change rapidly when we pushed on at 1 p.m. First the grassy flats disappeared, so that we rock-hopped along the creek for a while. The scrub on the banks was thicker. After an hour came the cascades, where the creek descended through a layer of slanting rock (possibly quartzite). We passed, scrambling, by three small waterfalls, and once were driven up the hillside by a little gorge. It began to rain in earnest and the cliffs, still distant from the creek, became grey-misted capes jutting into the valley. We returned to the stream, now flowing through a rift within the wider gorge.
We were above the rough by 3.30, but it was bush-pushing now, scrubby stuff, a mixture of ti-tree, small wattle and sapling gum between bigger timber. The creek made many U bends, which we followed around the arc because we didn't know we were on a curve. We had probably made about 15 miles up the creek, but the going was slow, and we were noticeably tiring. In a spell between showers, with a clear sky, we halted in a good spot at 4.30. There was a branching of the creek and, if the Blue Mountains-Burragorang map could be believed, it was at such a branch that one turned left into Bull Island Gap.
Barely had cooking operations ended when the rain returned, and we lay quietly in the tent, listening to its drumming on the taut japara for a couple of hours. Some time after 8 it dwindled to a drizzle, we lowered our abdulling and turned in. The wind piped up and once during the night blew down the tent. We put it up again and slept.
I'll sing you seven ho!… etc…
Seven for the un-mapped creeks we crossed.
It may have been six (or eight, or nine) but we crossed quite a swag of creeks next morning. It happened this way. We decided to go up the divide between the main and branch streams, directly behind our camp, until we could see the shape of the land. We pushed through dry labyrinth-like scrub, up, down, up, down, up, over a succession of ridges and through a tracery of unmapped creeks, with the goal of the Gap more or less in sight ahead from each crest. Then we could see we were veering too far toward the cliffs, so we plunged down to the main creek again. We were definitely on the east branch of the headwaters now, and it was creeping around a rocky pinnacle (not mapped) towards the Gap.
The going on the creek was not too bad - provided one used the creek as track. Going on the bank was too slow - too bushy. It was never deeper than six or eight inches, so we paddled. Ye Gods! It was cold. At 10.30 we could see where the walls broke down, and there was a blue line of sky not far above, and at 11 a.m. we sat in the saddle, looking out to the Peaks and Yerranderie.
I'll sing you eight ho!… etc…
Eight for the 'ateful cliff face…
Our idea, by general consent, was to find a ridge which ran right down to the Tonalli. Good. We flanked around to the west and picked a ridge which promptly did a peter on us. We took the next ridge west, and it was going sweetly - until we emerged on top of a cliff. The next ridge east was the same: so was the next west, but farther west was a spur which looked good. But to get to it … ah! We back-tracked until the cliffs below us broke down, but by this time the creeks intervening had also broken down, so that we went down and up, down and up, half a dozen times to reach that desired ridge. More than an hour it took us, and our forward progress perhaps 200 yards. But the ridge did take us right through to the Tonalli River for a deferred lunch at 1 p.m.
We picked a good ridge into Yerranderie - about half a mile down the river, then up-hill. Oddly enough, most of our way into town, we couldn't descry Bull Island Gap. A mixture of mist and the unmapped cliff beyond the saddle baffled us completely. It was just 3.15 when we walked up to the Silver Mines Hotel.
I'll sing you nine ho!… etc…
Nine was the hour of our roadside wait.
We enquired about transport at the “Silver Mines”. No, there was no respectable way out of town, but yes, there was a truck “going down the valley” later, and the driver would probably take us. Presently we interviewed the driver, who “couldn't say when he was going” but was willing to carry us to the bridge at Upper Burragorang. From that point we may score a further lift, could even walk to Spring Corner. Frank would then have his “two stroke” and Neil and I (at worst) could join the early 'bus from the Coal Mine.
It was going to be cold on the tray of that truck, we considered, so we rugged up in balaclavas, gloves and all. Neil pointed to the virtues of a beard. We squatted in a little hollow where gravel had been scooped out for surfacing the road, a hundred yards east of the “Silver Mines”. It was blowing Heavens hard, with cloud whipping across the greying sky.
At 7 p.m., when we were still by the road, Neil decided that you left Yerranderie only when you were carried out. We had built a twiggy straggling fire, and had a bucket of water standing by for quenching it. We brewed up a mix of three different kinds of soup cubes and waited. The comings and goings of the truck periodically brought us to our feet, water bucket at the “alert”.
It began to rain at about 9 p.m., a misty spray in the wind at first, growing heavier until, in desperation, we cut and ran - a mile dawn to the creek which crosses the road. We heard our “lift” pass just after we had pitched the tent (with several hundredweight of stones to hold it against the tearing wind). The rain eased, and it blew clear during the night.
I'll sing you ten ho!… etc…
Ten for the ten-mile road-bash.
Pooling remaining food we made breakfast, and bashed it out ten miles to the Wollondilly bridge. The river was lapping the decking, and surging through between the planks at times.
I'll sing you eleven ho!… etc…
Eleven for the telephone lines that were down.
Probably there wouldn't be 11 lines in the valley, but it fits the jingle, and they were all down. We were incommunicado. We bought lunch items at the Post Office - Store, basked in the wonderful calm sunlight, watched the yellow tide of the river flood by, and joined the afternoon 'bus. Frank left us at Spring Corner at 2.30, and Neil and I eventually arrived Sydney at 6.30.
I'll sing you twelve ho!… etc…
Twelve for the twelve enquiries.
This number is also a fiction. The story had to be recounted half a hundred times to folk at work, and in answer to telephone calls from walkers who had heard how we had blotted our copy-book by being a day overdue. I was unduly sensitive about it… mumbling about taking the pitcher too often to the well. Maybe it was worth it, though, just once - for one was the creek I wanted long to follow… and Green Grow The Wattles, O!
Author Not Known. (Submitted by John Noble.)
As I passed by I looked and saw what you had done. You had cut it a foot above the ground. All around lay the chunks of its white flesh, spattered from the axe. It fell so easily. It did not fight back at all. Its pride and majesty were so easily humbled, flung at your feet, a wreckage of broken branches and mangled leaves. Did you see the long shudder before its fall, I wonder? Did you hear the sigh of leaves, the wrenching cry as it strained then crashed before you?
It exists no longer. But all around it, in the earth and in the air, war has been declared against you. The air for your breathing is less sweet than before. The birds have forsaken you, leaving the insect pests and rodents to their work of destruction. The wind'll batter you more harshly. The rain will pelt the earth more piteously, its fall unbroken by that leafy screen. The unanchored soil will be stolen away by the rivulets of wasted water… That tree did not fight back, but its friends will fight for it. And long after the needless felling of the tree has been forgotten, their revenge will continue.
New Zealand has 3 million acres of Reserves and National Parks - just under 5 per cent of the Dominion, and believed more than any other country. (Tararua Tramper, May, 1952.)
“We spent the next four days weatherbound in Dart Hut, pondering the remarkable fact that, as the weather got worse, we gradually gained in altitude until, according to the barometer, we had climbed to the height of Snowy Saddle without leaving out bunks”. (From a story in “Alpinesport”, June, 1952).
Jim Hooper, whose engagement to Miss Pat Carroll was announced during September. (Since Miss Carroll is not - yet - a member, we can't carry out our threat of the September editorial - Editor.)
In lieu of the Usual Christmas Party, there will be a binge in the Club Room on the night of December 19th. Details to be worked out yet, but there will be (we understand) some dancing, games, perhaps community singing, and BYOG (Bring your own Grub).
Sparta had its Spartans, Bondi has its icebergs, and S.B.W. has - what? On a recent combined walk, with a braw frosty night descending, one Nature Boy demonstrated his toughness and utter disdain for the elements, nonchalantly tossed his sleeping bag into the fire and sleps (?) all same blackpfella on the bare ground. We hope Newcastle Walkers were suitably impressed.
Note: This habit could develop into serious Club rivalry and could easily cause Paddy to go out of business as walkers frantically scuttle sleeping bags, tents, groundsheets and other luxuries to be in the fashion.
“There were also too many persons put on Park Boards because they held some local body position, regardless of their suitability for National Park Management”. (Tararua Tramper, April, 1952.)
By Allen A. Strom.
Was received from The Caloola Club.
There was an alert on September 8th but searchers were not necessary as the party returned unharmed. Once again parents of one of the lost party had no knowledge of the route of the trip. The Pamphlet prepared by the Section was going to print and should be available at the next meeting of the Council.
Practice Weekend is being organised; Section would like to know how many members are likely to attend and what would be a convenient date. The place is to be kept secret until the weekend agreed upon, but it will be within the 8/- fare radius of Sydney.
Was reported to be a social and financial success. A fuller report will be presented to the October Meeting. Mr. J. Fletcher was appointed Acting Convener of the 1953 Ball committee in an attempt to have a hall booked in the near future.
A further meeting of this section had worked out scales, size of sheets, title blocks, etc. Four lectures over two field weekends had been arranged. The order of preparing maps had been made somewhat along the following lines :-
Wild Dogs, The Castle and Pigeon House, Kanangra Tops, Gangerangs, Wolgan-Capertee, Kangaroo River, Girraween, Butcher's Creek, Barrington North, South of the Shoalhaven.
Ten pounds was granted to the Mapping section for the purchase of materials.
It was reported that the response of Clubs to appeals for information was poor. It seemed that too much work was being thrown onto Secretaries and the appointment of Special Information Officers was necessary.
The possibilities of reserving the Rifle Range will be investigated, following the suggestion of Mr. John Noble.
The Federation still requires the services of a Business Manager before the work can commence. Any takers?
For Clubs wishing to affiliate: Since Mr. R. Compagnoni is no longer a delegate, his place on the Committee was declared vacant and Mr. A. Strom elected to fill the vacancy.
It was reported that it had been brought to the notice of a party visiting Colong Caves that the Trust Deed required proper supervision of parties entering the Caves. Permission should be first obtained from the Department of Lands and that a fee is payable. It was decided to ask the Secretary to check the information with the Department.
This will be held on October 11/12th at Macquarie Fields. Information from Jim Prendergast, FX 2549.
Paddy has just received an advance copy of “Skyline” Magazine of the Launceston Walking Club. It is an excellent production and contains a number of articles well worth reading. It beats me how our brother walkers from the Southern Isle manage to produce these magazines when we in Sydney years ago gave away the production of an annual as a hopeless proposition. Copies are available at 2/6d.
Paddy now has stocks of miners sox at 8/- per pair - sizes 10“ to ll 1/2”. They come in a delicate petunia colour. They are the goods for wet trips and in fact for all walking.
Do you old hands remember those extra light frying pan-plate combination outfits which Paddy stocked years ago? Well, he now has a similar set consisting of an 8“ Fry pan and similar sized plate with a lip to make it fit over the pan for use as an oven. Detachable handle - the whole lot complete for 7/9d.
This is something else Bushwalkers have been seeking for years. Aluminium food jars with push in lids. They come in three sizes, 1/2 pint, 3/4 pint, and 1 pint. And do they cost a fortune? No sir. 2/6d., 2/9d., and 3/6d. is the modest price of these articles.
That's all for now. Cheerio folks.
201 Castlereagh Street, Sydney. 'Phone M2678.
Get your tickets and make up your table.
Friday 21st October, 1927, to Friday 17th October, 1952 - 25 years less 4 days.
I wonder if the original group ever expected to see such an anniversary party, youngsters and oldsters all in together celebrating our birthday, just a quarter of a century after their original idea to form a mixed walking club.
Every week-end Club members are out in the bush enjoying themselves and the physical effort used in deriving this pleasure is repaid to them in relaxation of mind, freedom from everyday cares and worries, and with good fellowship. You must put something into bushwalking to get anything out of it, and its “taste” is the sweeter because it is your own initiative which is bringing in its reward.
The Club has grown by this very method. Members are putting back into the Club some of their experience and work-a-day skills to further the interests of bushwalkers generally. Every time you give information about a certain area to a fellow member you are putting back something every walk you lead, every walk you attend, you are putting back something every time you come back from a trip and “chew the rag”, making your listeners want to get out and do some more walking you are also putting something back into the Club's common fund of knowledge and friendliness.
This year I have one of the official positions in the Club, and I seem to be getting more enjoyment from its activities than ever before, which makes me believe that the more effort you put into anything, the greater the satisfaction gained.
The process is a circle, and so is never-ending insofar as individual members serve the Club so that the Club can serve the interests of each and every member. A few more trips around the ring and we'll be fifty years old… And so it goes…
As a member for over twenty of the twenty-five years of the Club's history Paddy very sincerely wishes the Club many happy years of bushwalking in the future. Members come and go; even presidents come and go (though we seem reluctant to part with some of them), but the same aims and aspirations carry the work on.
The Club has been the means of opening up new physical and spiritual horizons to hundreds of people and has provided them with many happy memories which will grow more precious as the years roll by. It has made its voice heard when the interests of Conservation were at stake and above all it has helped a small section of the community literally to keep two feet on the earth and keep sane in these crazy tines.
The development of the business of Paddy Pallin has from the first been closely associated with the Club. From the very beginning Paddy determined that any business between him and walkers must be on the basis of mutual benefit. With the growth of the Club and the development of interest in walking generally the business of Paddy Pallin has grown steadily and prospered during the twenty-two years since its establishment. During that time Paddy has endeavoured to render service to Sydney Bushwalkers and walkers generally and he trusts that the happy relationship now existing will continue to grow and flourish.
This occasion cannot be let pass without grateful remembrance of the sterling assistance rendered by members of S.B.W. after the disastrous fire which destroyed the shop and factory on Christmas Day 1950. It was not only the physical work done but the friendliness of the gesture which sustained Paddy daring a very trying period.
May the Club live long and ever foster the friendly fellowship of Walkers.
A quarter century! The years are flying -
Where are the prophets who so et have said:
“The Club is doomed”. “The Club is slowly dying?”
Believe me, we are not yet wholly dead.
Still when the bus disgorges us for Era
Our hearts leap with the old remembered thrill
As, tottering down the track, we see draw nearer
The dunes, the valley, Peter Page's hill.
Our mileage, is not much, as speedsters reckon;
We pause more often to admire the view;
But still we hobble out, when bushflowers beckon,
Our troth with them each springtide to renew.
Yearly we cut fresh notches in the tally.
Of mountain peaks we shall not climb again;
Heights are for Youth: but we have still the valley,
The sunlit Cox, Euroka in the rain.
Long may that Youth, and others who come after,
Walk the bush tracks, seek out the life that's free,
Meet perils, scars - and hakeas - with laughter
(Mingled at times with mild profanity).
And while we celebrate, not yet quite blotto,
We would exhort them this all things above:
To keep the good old independent motto
Of S.B.W.: We won't be druv!
By Paddy Pallin.
All members have seen the beautifully carved symbols which are used at reunions for the initiation of the President. Being symbols they naturally stand for something and the particular things they stand for are the objects of the Club. Now, at reunions, symbols and objects have on a few occasions been confused and when I wrote a letter gently chiding the President (not that it was his fault, poor fellow!) I paid the penalty of opening my mouth by being given a job - namely, to tell the Club the origin of the symbols for this special issue of the magazine.
I must be in the habit of speaking out of turn for when on a committee elected to organise the 1937 Reunion (I think the year is right) I suggested that in the initiation of the President, symbols be used to signify the objects of the Club. As a reward for this bright idea I suffered the usual penalty and was given the job of devising and making the symbols. I therefore (with the help of a friend who could draw better than I) made from white card four symbols, namely a rucksack, a map of Australia, a flannel flower and clasped hands. They had eyelets punched into them and were strung on cord to hang round the President's neck. The script for the ceremony explains itself and was as follows :-
|Retiring President||“Are you he whom the Club in council elected as their president for the coming year?”|
|President Elect||“I am”.|
|Retiring President||“Do you solemnly undertake to uphold the honour of the Club at all tines and pursue those objects for which the Club was founded?”|
|President Elect||“I do”.|
|Retiring President||“I therefore hand you the symbols of office.” (Does so one by one as follows.) “Here is a Rucksack to remind you that the Club was formed to amalgamate those who esteem walking as a means of recreation. Here is a Map to indicate that the Club is always striving to be an institution of mutual aid in regard to routes, and ways and means of appreciating the great outdoors. And now a Flannel Flower the Badge of the Club which signifies that we strive to establish a definite regard for the welfare and preservation of the wild life and natural beauty of this country. To help others appreciate these natural gifts. And here Clasped Hands to symbolise that we try to promote social activity amongst members. I therefore call upon the retiring president to hand over the bone - the president's badge of office.|
|Past President hands over the bone. (Speech.)|
These symbols were used for two years and for the 1939 Reunion the old symbols were handed over to Harry Savage and he carved from horn the present set. The new symbols are substantially the same design as the old ones with the exception that the boot was substituted for the rucksack to symbolise walking (maybe someone thought the rucksack was too much of an advert. far a certain firm of camp gear suppliers).
Having explained all that I'll try and keep my mouth shut in future and save myself a few jobs.
The S.B.W. sprung from the loins of the Mountain Trails Club, with the support of various people who were not members of the older Club. The first meeting of the S.B.W.took place when Alan Rigby moved at a meeting of the M.T.C. that “a new walking Club be formed here and now”. The M.T.C. meeting was accordingly declared closed, and the first meeting of the new Club opened immediately. The date - October 21st, 1927.
|Dunphy, Myles||21/10/27 - 11/11/27 (x)|
|Kilpatrick, Charles||11/11/27 - 14/ 9/28|
|Chardon, Harold||14/9/28 - 2/11/28|
|Kilpatrick, Charles||9/11/28 - 13/ 9/29|
|Debert, Jack||13/ 9/29 - 12/ 9/30|
|Chardon, Harold||12/ 9/30 - 10/10/30 (x)|
|Roots, Walter||10/10/30 - 8/ 3/35|
|Lawry, Dorothy||8/ 3/35 - 12/ 3/37|
|Croker, Richard||12/ 3/37 - 10/ 3/39|
|Moppett, Thomas||10/ 3/39 - 6/ 9/40|
|Moppett, Jean||13/ 9/40 - 12/ 3/43|
|Galliot, Hilma||12,/ 3/43 - 14/ 4/44|
|Druce, Beverly||14/ 4/44 - 13/ 4/45|
|Galliot, Hilma||13/ 4/45 - 10/ 3/50|
|Brown, Jim||10/ 3/50 - 14/ 3/52|
|Martin, Gladys||14/ 3/52 -|
( x ) -Acting Secretary.
By Alex Colley.
It was in March 1937, when I was a new member of some four month's standing, that Max Gentle can up to me in the clubroom and asked W0144 I like to came on a walk with Gordon Smith and himself at Anzac weekend. I had never been on a walk with either of them, and, knowing their reputation for toughness, couldn't understand why they would risk spoiling a good walk by inviting such a weakling. But as Max described the route and mentioned that fascinating name on the map - Mount Cloudmaker - and the ridges he had followed years ago, the urge which is the undoing of bushwalkers came upon me. Often I had studied the ridges an the Blue Mountains Map while playing with the idea of a three day trip to Cloudmaker - from Katoomba and back. This was my chance and the challenge of those distant ranges could not be resisted. Though still protesting my inadequacy for such a trip in such company, I was already at the point of no return.
The news of the trip soon got around the clubroom. So far as etiquette would allow inquiries were made, interest shown and hints dropped. Jack Debert and Dot English (Butler) were soon included in the party. As the news continued to spread it grew to nine in all.
Came the historic Friday night in April 1937 when eight Sydney Bush Walkers sat up awaiting the departure of the 6.15 p.m. for Wentworth Falls, while rain poured on platform roofs. But where was the ninth, Max, our guide and inspiration? He appeared just before the train left, packless, but complete with leather overcoat and umbrella. Couldn't imagine that we would be going in such weather, but just thought he ought to take a look at the train to make sure. This was the first and last time that anyone ever doubted that the whole party would turn up. Tiger trips went an schedule, rain or no.
We arrived at Wentworth Falls about nine o'clock and walked to the foot of Kedumba that night. At 4 a.m. Max, who had caught a late train, caught up with us, and before 5 a.m. we were on our way again. Breakfast at Reedy Creek, then on, over the Policeman range, to camp in light rain at the foot of the ridge leading up to Tiwilla Buttress. Next morning ever upward through the mist, past the hundred man cave Max had located in his previous trip, over the rock wall where he had dropped his pack and been “perilously short of food” while walking along and down and under to retrieve it; and so to Cloudmaker. Lunch at Dex Creek, then down the ridge now known as Strongleg to Kanangra clearing. Another early start, and we made Carlon's by about 11.30 a.m. The dinner we had ordered was not ready so early and it was nearly 3 p.m. when we got away. This would have been plenty of time if we hadn't planned to climb Carlon's Head, which then had neither chains nor pitons. Max, ever cautious in bushcraft, preferred to walk up Nellie's Glen. All went well till we reached the 20 odd feet of almost vertical rockface. Dot, our champion rock-climber, didn't quite make it at her first attempt, so we made a pyramid, from the top of which Bill McCosker took off. Using finger and toe-tip grips he was able to span the last smooth stretch and get his hands on to the to of the ledge. Slowly he inched up. As he pulled himself over the top cheers burst from those who could bear to look (there was a 200 feet drop beneath him at this point). Dot followed; then a rope was thrown up and the pedestrian members of the party, i.e. the other six, were hauled up. It all took time, with the result that, when we reached the top of the last rocks, there was less than three hours left to catch the last train. We set off at a good pace - Dot had to run a good bit of the way to keep up with the longer-legged ones - and made Katoomba just on time, by our watches, but 10 minutes too late by station time. This was a cruel blow - a night in the railway waiting room and train instead of our beds; after a 75 mile trip, 9,000 feet of climbing, and Carlon's Head. Though the Tigers did plenty more walks, including some as difficult, this was the only time they missed the last train.
After the trip - Editor please note - every member of the trip wrote up his, or her, impressions. The result was a most readable article (see Magazine No.34 - July 1937). One of the party just wrote the following:
This was the origin of the term “Tigers”. Most of the nine continued to walk together and many others became “Tigers” by adoption. Amongst those who became regulars were Bill Hall, Reg Alder, Roley Cotter, Tim Coffey, Jess Martin, Edna Stretton, Bert Whillier and Mary Stoddart (Eastoe). Many others, in fact nearly all the active walkers in the Club, came on “Tiger” trips at one time or another. The truth was that there was only a handful of genuine “tigers” and a number of followers who became known as “rabbits”. This term originated during a distance event from Katoomba to Picton in two days. As David Stead and I started our weary feet an the last 15 mile stretch after lunch on the Sunday, some ten minutes ahead of the others (and of David's famous schedule), David called back to them “The rabbits check out”.
The secret of the “Tiger's” success as a walking group was not their toughness but the organisation and teamwork that went into every trip. I believe any reasonably fit group of walkers could do the same, or similar trips, if they organised as well. Gordon Smith did most of the planning. He used to make exhaustive enquiries about the country, the tracks, times, transport, etc. so that we would set off with as much knowledge of the route as could be obtained. On the track it was the ringing voice of Jack Debert that got the party under way before the sun was up. It was Gordon's quiet good humour and encouragement that kept them going at an even pace during the day. Most of the trips were not covered at a fast pace, but we always started early and kept going steadily. The party seldom camped in the dark except on the first night. In the finding of routes Max was often our guide, but when there was doubt nearly everybody gathered round the map and argued. The results were good. False theories were usually exploded. Even if the arguers couldn't see the light, Gordon usually could. After a few minutes of listening quietly he would say “I think we'll try this way”. And we would. Except on well-known routes the party kept together. When the going was tough the strong walkers were at the back, ready to help if necessary. Gordon and Jack usually carried at least 50 lbs. and sometimes 70 or more so as to enable the girls to travel light and do trips otherwise beyond them. Others helped where they could. When we came to rock faces Dot would get up, lower a rope, and enable the rest to climb or be pulled up.
Most of the best trips were in the Blue Mountains. I will not describe them in detail because they have all been adequately described in the magazine (Them was the days, Mr. Editor). Some which come to mind were the trip to Guouogang and back - written up in the magazine as “Debert's Last Walk” - the first attempt to ascend Arethusa Canyon, the first trip all the way down the Kowmung, Murruin Gorge, Paralyser, and the first ascent of Middle Christy's Creek with its wonderful trio of waterfalls, the last of which - “Margaret Falls” - though seen from the Boyd Range by Myles Dunphy, had not been seen from any other point.
An interesting feature revealed by the harder walks was the variety of skills which go to make up the good bushwalker. Gordon, the national long distance champion, could have left everybody behind on an open track if he felt so inclined, though it was only occasionally when the going was plain and he wanted to do some training that he did so. In rough country I doubt whether anybody was better than Max, while on hills Jack Debert and Bert Whillier were probably the strongest. In the rock climbing and rock hopping department nobody could touch Dot in her bare feet, and on some trips we might never have got through if Dot had not got up first with the rope.
Not everybody approved of the “Tigers” - some thought we just put our heads down and raced, but a reading of those magazine articles will dispel any doubt that we were lovers of the bush and knew it better than most walkers. I know nothing to equal a hard walk, with its difficulties, dangers, hardships and thrills, to bind a group, or a club, together. Soon the Tigers monopolised the walks programme (Walks Secretary, please note), and I doubt whether official walks have ever been better attended. Twenty or thirty on a day or weekend was common.
Now the “Tigers” are dispersed; one, their leader, a victim of the Japs in Borneo. But some still walk and many take an active interest in the Club. For two at least the call of the bush will never grow dim, nor the Club lose its appeal.
At its first meeting, the Club was provisionally styled “The Waratah Walking Club” in tribute to the parent Mountain Trails Club, whose badge depicted a waratah. The present name came into being at the Third Meeting of December 8th, 1927, when a suggestion put forward by Maurice Berry was adopted by ballot, and the new club became “The Sydney Bush Walkers”. At that moment, too, the word “Bush walker” was born.
By Maxwell Gentle.
After visiting Kanangra Walls, via Gingra, in August, 1928, my next ambition was to walk over the Gangerang Range. On joining the Sydney Bush Walkers in 1929, I learnt that this range was unknown to club members, and the data given on available maps was very limited.
While fellow member, Myles Dunphy, tempted me with descriptions of the Upper Kowmung gorge, somehow the rugged heights of Gangerang proved the greater attraction.
A Burragorang cattleman, Michael Maxwell, had been on part of Gangerang, and information given by him indicated the best places to climb the range, and its low cliffs, also where water might be found.
While I was on a Friday evening train journey on Eight Hour weekend, 1929, a chance meeting with Gordon Smith, at Valley Heights, resulted in having company on my Gangerang walk, instead of going alone.
I knew that Gordon would see the distance because he was 50 miles champion road walker of Australia. Needless to say we made good progress on the walk out from Wentworth Falls that night, to our camp site at the Sunset Rock. No tent, blankets or sleeping bags were carried and we slept on a bed of leaves by a log fire. Fortunately the weather was fine and clear, and we made good time with our light packs, walking down Kedumba Pass next morning.
We reached our breakfast site on Cox's River at 8.30 a.m., and the Cox-Kowmung junction at 12 noon.
At 2.30 p.m. on Saturday afternoon we commenced to climb the Gangerang Range, from a point one mile further up the Cox. The ridge was at first a lightly timbered grassy slope, and rose very steeply for about 1,400 feet, then becoming boulder strewn, with thicker undergrowth. A low cliff with a cave was skirted here, being similar to the rocks on the adjacent Mt. Kookem. A fine view opened out up the Cox gorge, as far as the “Konangaroo Creek” area, mentioned in Surveyor Govett's writings, and its western tributary, rising near the “highest land”, called by the Blacks of his time (if the word can be written as they pronounced it) “Kuo-uogang”.
About four miles from our viewpoint could be seen the low cliffs of Gangerang plateau, and so we continued to ascend the ridge we were on, which was seen swinging more to the southwest, in that direction.
Our route lay through a thick forest of Turpentine and Eucalyptus saplings, but we sometimes enjoyed a glimpse of the mountain country northward to Mt. Mouin and Clear Hill. One of the best views was looking down Little Ti-willa Creek and across the Kowmung River to Byrnes Gap, and Tonalli Range.
Nightfall found us camped on a bed of leaves by a log fire, and we each had a two quart billy of water, which we had carried up from the river.
At daybreak next morning we continued walking along the thickly timbered flat topped ridge, which soon commenced to rise steeply, and eventually reached the foot of the low cliffs of sandstone and conglomerate.
A way up was found through a break in these cliffs (Gentles Pass) on the Ti-willa Creek side, and then, after walking a mile on a lightly timbered, stony ridge on the plateau, a stop was made for breakfast by a running stream, in a swampy upland gully.
Later we walked southward over a slight rise, and then across the main marsh of the plateau, in the direction of a high hill, which we then thought to be the Gangerang peak. On reaching its crest we could see higher land ahead, and further progress was temporarily halted by a precipitous canyon, which a creek from the marsh had cut right through the ridge we were on (a geographical rarity).
This creek was later to be named “Dex Creek”, and the high hill “Bolwarra”. The view west extended across the Kanangra gorge, while eastward could be seen the grassy flats of the Lower Cox Valley.
After crossing Dex Creek, a well defined quartzite ridge led us along to the highest point of the range (Mt. Cloudmaker) at 12 noon, where marvellous views opened out over Kanangra gorge, and the famous walls, glowing in the sunlight.
The ridge then became very spectacular, and ran westward, resembling a great heap of boulders, coming to a point on top. It dipped and rose again about three times, and then swung southward. After a series of dips and knobs, the rock hopping over the very hard type of quartzite became easier, and the now grassy ridge descended steeply to Gabes Gap, the lowest saddle on the range in this section. From this gap it was possible to look west down a dry creek bed to Kanangra Creek, while a gully with tree ferns dropped down on the east side to Gingra Creek.
A very steep climb followed and presently we came to the foot of Craft's Wall, which we avoided, by keeping on its east side. After passing a number of caves, formed by the overhanging walls, we found ourselves on the main ridge again, which, after less than a mile, ended under the walls of Kanangra Tops. A break in the walls, 100 yards to the south, provided a way up. This was later to be named “Smith's Pass”. From there it was easy going west past Mt. Maxwell and over a narrow neck to the iron ladder.
Our campsite for the night, in the cave with the dance platform, was reached at 4 p.m., a little over a day's walk from the Cox-Kowmung junction.
On Monday morning Gordon was more at ease, walking along the old cart track to Jenolan Caves. We passed through the Grand Arch there at 1.30 p.m., and continued walking along the road for another 11 miles before being given a ride in a service car to Mt. Victoria, in time to catch the 7.15 p.m. train to Sydney.
Thus ended a good three days walk, but the next few months saw the first ascent of Mt. Paralyser and Thurat, the first visit to Mt. Guouogang, and the first walk along Yellow Dog.
I remember standing on Mt. Moorilla, after a spell of torrential rain, in June 1930, when the view from there was really a picture, as it included five big waterfalls on the side of Thurat, which are not usually running. Next day, the first descent of Ti-willa Buttress was made.
It was good to walk along the well defined ridges of this predominantly quartzite country. The experience gained in bushwalking there was essential to us in 1931, when we ventured into a relatively dry Capertee-Colo area, which is only partly surveyed, but otherwise of rugged sandstone country, deeply intersected by precipitous ravines.
By Myles J. Dunphy.
The writer has been asked to throw some light on the subject of named features in the Greater Blue Mountains, particularly as they affect bushwalkers. The subject is too wide and involved to be covered in this article, which only scratches its surface, so to speak.
When the bushwalkers of this generation have passed on to Elysium, the ten million or so people who will be living in the population centres surrounding the Greater Blue Mountains will realize that the bushwalkers of the past were constructive in their time and had some vision for the future. They not only made persistent efforts to save their bushland wilderness for its environmental value and biologic content, but also invested it with the aura of romantic interest. It will be recognized, thankfully, we hope, that they played a prominent part in the creation of national parklands of great intrinsic value, in the face of insidious destruction caused by commercial interests of one kind and another. The necessarily slow and cautious progress of Governmental action towards measures of preservation will be acknowledged. The story will go down the years in maps and books, and in official files. There will be a vast regret for action taken too late, for mistakes made, for the fact that the people's parliamentary representatives adhered to party lines and rarely acted as individual statesmen. The State budgets of the times, because of the recurrence of national crises, did not include items for the creation and maintenance of action for the preservation of Australian scenery, wild-life, and bushland for outdoor living, particularly in the face of the concerted opposition of bodies interested in primary production.
Many years have passed since bushwalkers opened up this matter, that is, their angle of conservation, and too little of the general plan has been accomplished; but we have made the machinery by which we work and we intend to keep it working. One never knows! We might be surprised in pleasant fashion: our ideas are constructive, our positive use of the outlands remains a consistent fact, we are sane and live actively in health in the best bushland environment we can reach, our recreation is educational, our words frame facts that all can understand, we hope the best for the future, and have unlimited faith in those other conservators about us who work to the same end. We keep moving steadily onward; with us the Albanian mountaineers' motto is appropriate: “little by little”. For one fact stands out plainly from our experience: if we were to desist from our efforts there would be an immediate slump in public interest, and the authorities would take a more leisured pace in these matters. Forgotten files would accumulate in the archives, and, Heaven forfend, they might be consigned to the incinerator. There must be continuity of effort in planning the preservation of the things we want to use and save for the use of others.
It may disappoint some of our colleagues of the outdoors to learn that not many names of bushwalkers appear on the features of our bushland environment. Mainly because of origins some early walkers' names have been perpetuated; most are in relatively minor positions topographically but important to bushwalkers, indicating lookouts, passes and such-like. At times the authorities have attached the names of prominent citizens to features, as can be seen on the High Monaro, but personal names are frowned on unless genuinely historic. Therefore in this section we have proceeded with caution.
There is no objection to euphonious aboriginal place-names, or for aptly descriptive but not offensive names, or to systems of names that give interest to the topography of a locality and to the map. However, there are rules and custom to be observed; there are limitations. By and large, the Under Secretary for Lands and the Surveyor General constitute the approving authority. Local Government bodies also have certain powers in this direction, which are exercised rather carefully, more especially in the matter of re-naming streets, localities and natural features in measured portions, because deeds and leaseholds very often show included or adjacent named features and boundaries. The simple alteration of an established place-name can be a very awkward circumstance but sometimes it has to be made.
In the work the writer has done in this way, in the Greater Blue Mountains region, spread over many years, he has been guided by an urge to provide a basis for a great national park, to fix points of history and to build up a romantic atmosphere about a remarkably scenic tract of country which deserves the best of treatment from everybody. With the help of many walkers the original expressionless blanks on the old parish and tourist maps of this area of some 3,500 square miles have become intelligible to foot travellers, by reason of charted features and a considered nomenclature. The Department of Lands produced the standard map required. Now it is possible to discuss this region with confidence as to places and time-distance, to give directions and understand descriptions of routes. The fact that the region now is safer is unimportant to bushwalkers but vital to hikers.
The People of the Little Tents have had a lot of high adventure in this region. The grand idea is to preserve both the scene and the spirit of adventure; for this the primitive wilderness is a necessity. It is considered to be a heritage of inestimable value, to be handed on, in the best possible condition - and cared for - to future generations of appreciative outdoors people. All along we have been taking action to have the unproductive tracts of this scenic wilderness region preserved for this best ultimate use, whilst appealing to the various authorities for assistance.
In our own social way we have learned about the natural attractions of the great mountainous barrier region, until now we are very certain of its general value as environment. We know its interesting plateaux and peaks, frescoed walls and vast buttresses, master-ranges, breaks and gaps; its canyons and deeps, beautiful streams, forests, heaths and fern-gullies. Better than any other section of our people we know the intrinsic value of the wilderness areas, which we very much desire should remain as such, without roads and settlements and free of the blight of commercial undertakings and polluted streams. We want the Greater Blue Mountains National Park established.
The standard tourist map - which includes very little of the northern half of the region - shows that much interest has been added to the face of what was really wild country when heavy-pack exploring walkers first engineered their routes across it. To a certain extent it was the haunt of cattle-duffers and moonshiners. Its trails were known only to local bushmen who had reasons for riding into and across it. Within its fastnesses were scrubber cattle and brumbies, at least one stag, and a great quantity of marsupial, reptilian and bird life up to 1916, when skin-getting became a business. Then trappers, shooters, timber-getters, some cattlemen, and the great recurrent bushfires from 1928-9 onward, depleted natural values and decimated wild-life.
In this limited article there is little space left for information about particular place-names. As an earnest of what is meant by giving interest to the features of this region, let us consider two of the most prominent peaks of Tallarat Crags: Arabanoo Peak and Cambage Spire. Where Christy's Creek joins Kowmung River, in the Southern Blue Mountains, there is a chaotic array of canyons, crags and peaks. The twisting Tiamat Canyon of East Christy's Creek junctions with Christy's Creek Canyon a few hundred yards from the Kowmung at the upper end of Bulga-Denis Canyon. East Christy's Creek rises between several plateaux of Kanangra Tops (3,500 feet) then drops steeply southward.
Our two peaks stand opposite and close to each other in splendid companionship, divided only by the deep and narrow defile of Tiamat Canyon which, in its special type of ruggedness, may be said to represent the abysmal chaos from which all life has sprung. The two peaks stand as brothers in a ruggedly romantic scene, symbolic of blackman and whiteman, Neolothic aborigine and modern Caucasian. They will serve to perpetuate the memory of two remarkable men. They will remind thoughtful Australians of the understanding union which should have existed between the original inhabitants of this land and the white intruders - a union which Governor Phillip and his friends tried to establish in the early days of the First Settlement at Port Jackson, but which others consistently neglected as an unimportant and profitless matter.
Arabanoo was the first native captured by Governor Phillip and made partly civilized, 1789. He was adopted by the Governor, lived in his house, and was educated to be an intermediary between whites and natives, and an interpreter of ways and manners. The few learned Europeans of Sydney Settlement studied him as an ethnological specimen and were amazed by his native powers. Tench wrote: “He was very helpful to the Governor but died of smallpox and was buried in the Governor's garden. The character of Arabanoo was distinguished by a portion of gravity and steadiness… his countenance was thoughtful but not animated. His fidelity and gratitude… were constant and undeviating and deserve to be recorded… of a gentle and placable temper… impatient of indignity… allowed no superiority on our part… The independence of his mind never forsook him… at retaliation of merriment he was often happy… He did not want docility… He was perhaps the only native who ever attached to us from choice… By his death the scheme which had invited his capture was utterly defeated”. Arabanoo Peak, therefore, stands as a permanent monument to a good example of Australian aborigine.
Richard Hind Cambage, F.L.S., M.R.S.(N.S.W.), a learned scientist of Sydney, possessed many and varied accomplishments… natural and open-handed friendliness… native dignity… simplicity of mind… forbearance and trustfulness, - which qualities, had they been applied to a greater extent by our early forefathers, would have produced a much better feeling of friendliness between aborigines and Europeans throughout this island continent. They would have helped in the preservation of aboriginal ethnological treasures and spiritual background, of which nothing was known for a long time; they would have aided the preservation of a remarkably interesting race of people.
For another reason, also, Cambage Spire was so named. It was R.H. Cambage who first realized the importance of Ensign Francis Barrallier's attempts to cross the Blue Mountains barrier in 1802. He had Barrallier's account of his three journeys in French translated and himself personally made a very thorough investigation of the routes. He traced him to the junction of Christy's Creek with Kowmung River, and there identified fossils mentioned by Barrallier; but he could not trace him farther. Cambage Spire overlooks this junction, on the northern side, the highest of three eminences all in line.
Cambage Spire stands as a monument to a worthy Australian scientist, a good example of European gentleman. Without a doubt he would have understood Arabanoo.
Away over on the other side of the Kanangra Tops, beyond Kanangra Deep, the vast Thurat Walls stand up about the bases of Big Thurat (4,200 feet), Mount Danae (4,100 feet) and Big Misty (4,000 feet). Between the Thurat Spires that rise almost sheer from the depths of the Deep, on the one side, and the terraced Cliffs of Seriphes that form the rimrocks of the Golden Terrace about Mount Danae, on the other side, lies a tremendous abyss, nearly 2,000 feet deep, known only to a few bushwalkers and trailers. This is the Pooken Hole, gloomy den of The Pooken, the great mist monster, which conceals its tenuous bulk in the depths of ferny jungles, rock-crevices and scree-runs for long periods during warm weather, so that it will be overlooked by innocent travellers. Whenever a cool, damp, south-easterly wind blows in from the distant sea, The Pooken stealthily emerges under a darkness of its own making. Its cold, wraithy tentacles rise against the terraced walls; they lap over the rimrocks, then curl with amazing speed across the Thurat moors and rills to envelop the surprised and fleeing travellers upon which the mist monster subsists.
(Refer to “Tartarus - the Christy's Creek country of the Kowmung”, by M.J.D., in “Into the Blue”, journal of the Coast and Mountain Walkers of N.S.W., September 1951 issue. It deals with place-names.)
By Ken Matthews
Every bushwalking club knows that Sydney is, of all the Australian capitals, the one most favoured by nature in the provision of abundant areas particularly suited for bushwalking. With the Blue Mountains, Burragorang Valley, Hawkesbury River system, and the beaches and highlands of the near South Coast, the success of the bushwalking movement is assured for several generations to come, and with foresight should continue while civilisation itself lasts.
An important factor to be considered is the expanding population of the metropolitan area. As the population increases bushwalking is likely to become increasingly popular so that more and more people will spend their leisure hours in the bush areas. But the demand for new roads, power-lines, town areas, developmental works and landing areas will also increase. These may threaten the retention of the bushwalking areas if foresight be not shown.
It is not only for the bushwalking community that steps should be taken to see that the scenic and wild-life areas around Sydney and elsewhere in the State are preserved. As everyone knows, certain species of fauna, and of flora, are disappearing and it is well in the interest of nature-lovers generally that steps should be taken to halt despoliation. In the interests of science and knowledge, as well as in recreational activity and national fitness, the preservation of the bushlands as primitive areas is of prime importance. It is not necessary to be a practising bushwalking to appreciate the bushlands and what they contain. But it is essential, most essential indeed, if the bush regions are to be enjoyed in their wildest and primitive state, to approach them on foot and not by means of motor cars, or, in anticipation of things to come, by helicopter or saucer.
There can be no bringing of the bushlands to the people. The people, if they want it, must go to the bushland. Attempts to bring the bush to the people by opening up roadways beyond a given point only succeed in pushing the bush farther away or destroying it altogether. Supposing in a moment of mad enthusiasm, under a caption of “Bring the Bushlands to the People”, roadways with their incidentals of bridges, culverts, quarried areas, parking spaces, shelter-sheds, telephone lines, and the inevitable hotels and kiosks for motorists, and landing fields for helicopterists, were to be provided at every lookout, scenic spot, in every valley, stream, glade and glen - would not the very reason for building them have then been destroyed? Would not the “next step” then be to begin removing the roadways, sheds etc. in the hope that the bushlands, and the animals, birds and trees would come back to the people? As foolish as it may seem, this, at any rate in general principle, is the situation that has faced several countries outside Australia - hence the reservation of large tracts in America, Africa and Europe as great national parks. It can happen in Australia too, and will happen if foresight be not shown. After all, until 1788, the whole of Australia was a primitive area.
The bushwalking community has not been unmindful of the position, and it is to the credit of the Bushwalking Clubs and their Federation that something, small though it may be relative to what remains to be done, has been achieved in the way of conservation of areas. A brief account of those achievements is here attempted. While, in a bushwalking journal, emphasis is placed on the energies of the Bushwalking Movement, grateful acknowledgement is made of the assistance given by bodies such as the Wild Life Preservation Society, Parks and Playground Movement, Rangers' League, Boy Scouts Association, Australian Forest League and several Government officials as well as private citizens.
One of the first attempts at conservation - and a highly successful one - was the Blue Gum Forest, Grose Valley. Apart from a few members of the Mountain Trails Club and Sydney Bush Walkers not many people knew of this delightful spot. The first walker known to have visited the forest was a Frenchman, Du Faur, who did the trip in 1876. The late Judge Docker frequented the area gaining access from Perry's Lookdown long before the S.B.W. was formed. It was he who constructed a steel ladder down the cliff face. Surrounded as it is by cliffs 2,000 feet high, with no road leading into it, the Blue Gum Forest at the junction of the Grose River and Govett's Leap Creek, should remain a primitive area for all time.
The Lands Department, quite unaware of anything worthy of protection, had given a grazing lease over the area to a farmer living on the surrounding plateau. It just happened that on one occasion when some members of the S.B.W. and M.T.C. were encamped there, the echo of an axe resounded through the stately blue gums. Upon investigation the lessee was seen ringbarking the trees, a legal right he had towards every one of the few thousand blue gums there. He was unresponsive to the pleas made to him: he had a grazing lease and wanted to use the area for his cattle. But he was found to be responsive to bargaining and himself offered to sell his lease over the 40 acres for £130 payable within three months. So, the S.B.W. and M.T.C. set about raising money, and with the help of other agencies and private citizens, succeeded in purchasing the lease. Thus the Blue Gum Forest was handed back to the Crown to be dedicated as a camping reserve for all time. The Government appointed four members of the S.B.W. as trustees. Since then the Blackheath Council has added strips of land to the area. It must not pass unnoticed, however, that a strip of adjacent land is still he in private ownership, though it is unlikely that the owner will use in a way that would thwart the purposes of the camping reserve.
In its early days, the S.B.W. took out a special lease of 100 acres on Myuna Creek, a tributary of Heathcote Creek. The purpose of the lease of the area, Morella Karong as it is known, was for a camping reserve and sanctuary. Conditions of the lease were that no fences were to be erected and no permanent habitation was to be allowed. The area has a waterfall and substantial pool. However, on the establishment of the Heathcote Primitive Area, the S.B.W. relinquished the lease in favour of negotiating for the conservation of the Garawarra Park.
A similar lease for a camping reserve and sanctuary of 85 acres was taken out by the M.T.C. on Heathcote Creek. The area is known as the Miarra Sanctuary. The lease is still held but the area is now surrounded by the Heathcote Primitive Area.
The Heathcote Primitive Area, a strip of country eight miles long by about half a mile wide, of about 1,640 acres, along Heathcote Creek, and accessible from Waterfall township, is the result of the efforts of the bushwalking clubs. It was established for public recreation and preservation of flora and fauna. It is under the control of trustees, seven appointed by the bushwalking clubs and one by the Sutherland Shire Council.
The first monument to the Federation of Bushwalking Clubs by way of conservation is Bouddi Natural Park. The Park comprises an area of about 2,000 acres, six or seven miles wide, varying from a quarter to a mile wide, situated behind Maitland Bay and ocean beach not far north of the point at which the Hawkesbury River enters the Pacific. In the early 1930's Miss Marie Byles began campaigning for the conservation of the area, and after interesting the District Surveyor, other Governmental officials and the S.B.W., the project was taken up in earnest by the Federation. As a result it was reserved about 1936. It is under the control of a trust comprising three S.B.W. members and three nominees of the local shire. The area abounds in wild flowers. Several working bees of bushwalkers have built tracks and shelters.
The second monument to the Federation and to the bushwalking movement and individual clubs generally, is the Garawarra Park. “Garawarra” is compounded of “Garie” and “Illawarra”. The area of the Park which has been reserved is less than half the area that the bushwalking movement would like to see reserved. The larger area includes an expanse of about 5,000 acres from the southern boundary of National Park to Bald Hill and Otford, and from the railway line to the coast. This area of highland and beach is the chief one-day recreation centre for walkers. The first attempt to have the area reserved seems to have been made by the M.T.C. in 1925, but the official answer was that it was not warranted since the National Park was adjacent. With the formation of the S.B.W. in 1927 the number of bushwalkers interested in the area grew considerably. The area being so accessible and therefore popular, it was natural that the newer bushwalking clubs should be interested in it. Upon its formation in 1932 the Federation immediately campaigned and in short time no less than 5,000 signatures were obtained to a petition for conservation. The result was that in August 1934 all the available Crown Lands in the area, about 1,300 acres, were officially dedicated as a reserve. Small additions now make it 1,465 acres. The reservation includes Burning Palms beach, Bulgo Trigonometrical station and adjacent plateaux. Attempts by the adjoining National Park Trust to absorb Gara Park have been successfully thwarted. Gara Park has, since 1935, been under the control of seven trustees including minority representation from the bushwalking movement.
To provide a camping area and to preserve the water supply, the S.B.W. bought 40 acres at North Era in 1947. This area was thrown open to the public as a free site for non-permanent camps, and remained so until the whole of the Era lands, the bridge between the National Park and Garawarra Park, were resumed by the Government in 1950. The activities of bushwalkers played no small part in gaining this precious resumption.
These, then, are the achievements of the bushwalking movement in conservation. There are others on a less grand scale but space will not permit of their mention. A brief reference, however, should be made of the National Perks and Primitive Areas Council founded by Myles J. Dunphy. Its objects are to locate and plan areas for national parks and primitive reserves. One well-worked out and co-ordinated plan is for a Greater Blue Mountains National Park to take in an area from a little north of the Colo River down to near Mittagong, westward to beyond Jenolan Caves and near Lithgow, eastward to the first ridge of the Blue Mountains including Kurrajong Heights, Glenbrook, Hill Top. The plan is an ideal for the future. It allows for the growth of the existing townships and new ones, industrialisation, tourist resorts, while at the same time ensuring conservation of primitive areas of flora and fauna. In short, it represents a plan of co-ordination, national in character, as opposed to piecemeal haphazard projects of which Australia has unhappily ample experience.
(Chairmen were elected at each of the early meetings.)
|Debert, Jack||10/2/28 - 13/9/29|
|Duncan, Frank||13/9/29 - 13/3/31|
|Chardon, Harold||13/3/31 - 8/4/32|
|Ritson, Clifford||8/4/32 9/3/34|
|Herbert, Thomas||9/3/34 - 13/3/36|
|Roots, Walter||13/3/36 - 10/7/36|
|Berry, Maurice||10/7/36 - 10/3/39|
|Croker, Richard||10/3/39 - 14/3/41|
|Colley, Alex||14/3/41 - 13/3/42|
|Lawry, Dorothy||13/3/42 - 10/3/44|
|Stead, David||10/3/44 - 9/3/45|
|GarradD, Edna||9/3/45 - 8/3/46|
|Rose, Jack||8/3/46 - 14/3/47|
|Moppett, Thomas||14/3/47 - 14/3/52|
|McGregor, Malcolm||14/3/52 -|
By Grace Noble.
Eleven an a food-list, I went along muttering to myself, eleven on a food-list – me who's always been a blooming individualist with me own foods that I cooks how I likes or don't cook at all: still, I suppose it may lighten the weight - but it's much against my better judgement that I'm in on this at all. “This” being Gordon Smith's first “underwater trip down the Kowmung” of Christmas - New Year, 1938-39. To know how I, a rabbit to end all rabbits, happened to be in it, you have to realise that the said Smithy, though a wonderful instigator and organiser of trips, was cursed with something a Tiger should be without - a kind heart. So when someone says to him “Here's poor Grace been languishing in the country with no walking for six months, and she'd love to go on a walk”, he cheerfully says “Oh, she can come, we can always carry her”. (He being both capable of and willing to do just that.)
Besides Gordon, the original starters from Ginkin were Jack Debert (whipper-in of the weaklings), Bill Hall (who committed the sacrilege of annointing his Christmas pudding and cream with bran), Roley Cotter (helping maidens in distress 'way back in those dim, dark ages), Reg Alder, Alex Colley, and a non-bushwalker friend of Alex, Edgar Phillips who looked like something out of Scheherezade, with his dark hair, soulful eyes and a purple-striped towel he used as a turban, and who beguiled the camp fire with tales from Jurgen. There were also two friends of Alex, whose names I don't remember, but who had radical social views (must have been before he Saw the Light). The Tigresses were represented by Hilma Galliott, Dot English and Mary Stoddart. At the tail-end, of course, come the Rabbits - Clare Kinsella, who has the sort of figure its nice to have along on a walk, even if (or because) you might have to carry it home - and myself, the Very Inferior Rabbit. Whereas Clare, when confronted with a ten-foot drop into a bottomless pool, would jump docilely when ordered, the Very Inferior type would stand dithering at the edge until it dropped off from exhaustion.
As to this being “a first down the Upper Kowmung” trip, I feel it is always dangerous to make such a claim - some obscure geologist or surveyor was probably there long before - but at least I am pretty sure we were the first S.B.W. party to travel the length of the Kowmung from the Hollander-Tuglow junction, actually on or in the river - as distinct from other parties which had followed its course from a route well up on the ridges.
We spent the first few days in a deceptively easy and pleasant amble from Ginkin down the rivers till we got to Morong Creek, where we said goodbye to Dot, Alex and his friends, who had only the Christmas part of the holiday and were returning from there. This left the experimental part of the trip - down the Morong Deep and so on to Yerranderie - to be done before New Year, when we had to pick up food, some more members of the trip, and get rid of myself. This may not sound much, but when you consider that we did not yet know whether one could make a pack float in a reasonably water-tight condition for any considerable distance, or even how far we were likely to have to float them, it was enough to cause a few misgivings (to the rabbits, at any rate).
I might remark here that the original idea, which we had all faithfully followed, was to buy each a small rectangular surf float (about 3' x 2'), on which we would tie our packs. As the granite gorge narrowed, we came to the first testing place - sheer walls and a long narrow pool. I am not quite sure of the next bit, but I think the guinea pig's pack (not mine) was first wrapped in a groundsheet, then tied with cord to the float and launched, with the pack uppermost. As any scientific type should have been able to predict, but didn't, the float floated to the top, leaving the pack underneath, somewhat wetter. The interesting part to us was that even then, pack plus float did not sink more than a few inches in the water - and so the historic discovery was made of simply wrapping in a groundsheet and tying securely like a Christmas pudding. (The rubber floats made wonderful air-cushions for the rest of the trip.)
In case there are any folk remaining who have not done it, the “Morong Deep” is cut deep into granitic rocks, with the Kowmung flowing in a series of long pools of varying depth, and anything up to 300-yards long, with sheer walls, and ending in a mass of granite boulders and a drop, or a series of drops, into the next pool - and so on for miles. I don't recall the total length, but I do know that the hardest day's going was eight miles: and that was from dawn to dark. Needless to say, wear and tear on groundsheets and gear is nearly as bad as that on personnel. I remember a time when Reg, somewhere below in the depths of the gorge, spreadeagled against a very knobbly piece of granite, and arrayed in the conventional masculine mode for doing the Kowmung, was carefully lowering Mary's pack by cord to the pool below. Mary calls out: “Don't scratch it!” Retort from the depths, in deeply injured voice: “Don't scratch what?”
The trials of this part of the trip were added to by this eleven-on-a-food-list stunt. The theory is that, instead of cooking and washing up for yourself all the time, you have a turn at doing it for eleven. I think three or four cooks were rostered for each meal, but only one or two washers-up: just imagine about 20 plates, with accompanying cutlery, and incredible numbers of dirty billies, and you may agree that in practice it's not so hot. To a dispassionate observer, the tribal ceremony involved in dishing out was also amazing. Eleven dishes were set out in a row, and three or four billy-bearers, followed by a blow-fly shoo-er, would start along the row, to the accompaniment of a steadily rising buzz from the double orchestra (human and insect). This would reach a deafening crescendo as the quantities were at last exactly apportioned; a deathly silence from the human orchestra as it grabbed its food; and then just a steady munch, munch, munch.
I might point out that individualism was severely frowned upon. You were given a share of everything exactly equal to everyone else's, and you ate it or else. It was at the end of the most gruelling day, with the temperature well over 100 degrees, that a more than usually obnoxious-looking mess of dried potato and tinned meat mixed together were served out; I took one look at it, and hurriedly sneaked my plate over to Reg (who was always hungry), unfortunately was caught in the act, pounced on and ordered to eat. Whereupon I shamed myself forever by weeping quantities of salt tears into the aforesaid mess. This unnerved the entire party, who all acted very remorseful and bunged me into my sleeping bag and put me away for the night.
As the river emerges from the narrower part of the gorge, the level stretches between the pools are more frequent. One advantage in being a rabbit was that (when no one was sufficiently alert to check up on me) I could meander along in the rear, enjoy the cool strangeness of the gorge itself, with its grey-blue and grey-pink walls and silent pools, and murmur to myself Mary's favourite quotation:
“There is sweet music here, which softer falls
Than petals from blown roses on the grass;
Or night-dews on still waters, between walls
Of shadowy granite, in a gleaming pass”.
Needless to say, sooner or later, the spell would be broken, the whipper-in would remember me, and baying at my heels would round me up at least to the middle of the party.
The rest of the trip (as far as I was concerned) was a pleasant stroll down the Kowmung and in to Yerranderie (where some of the party accompanied me in order to get more food), and where the New Year arrivals, David Stead, Dot, Bill Mullins and (I think) Irving Calnan and Bill Whitney joined the party to do the rest of the Kowmung and so to Katoomba. My only regret at this stage was abandoning the said Bill M., who was our Hero of the Moment, to the unscrupulous clutches of H. and C., who I feared Took an Interest.
Incidentally, the return party took with them ice cream. Being now unencumbered by a rabbit they got back before the ice cream melted, with the result that a photo entitled “Dot eating ice cream on the Kowmung” which subsequently appeared in the Bushwalker, was greeted with jeers of derision as an obvious fake.
Well, looking back on it, I'm glad to have done the trip — once…
During the 50's of last century it was estimated that there were 60 million buffalo in Canada and U.S.A. By 1880 they had almost been destroyed Today, despite 70 years of careful preservation, there are perhaps 30,000.
“Sportsmen” have contributed largely to the extinction of at least four South African creatures - the Bloubok, the True Quagga, the Cape Lion and Burchell's Zebra.