A monthly bulletin of matters of interest to the Sydney Bush Walkers, The N.S.W. Nurses' Association Rooms, “Northcote Building”, Reiby Place, Sydney. Box No.4476 G.P.O., Sydney. 'Phone JW1462.
|Editor||Don Matthews, 33 Pomona Street, Pennant Hills. WJ3514|
|Business Manager||Brian Harvey|
|Sales & Subs.||Eileen Taylor|
|Typed by||Jean Harvey|
|Walkers' Christmas||Geof Wagg||1|
|At Our November Meeting||Alex Colley||2|
|Phi Joins the S.B.W.||Stuart Brooks||4|
|Caving At Cliefden||Bob Duncan||7|
|The Wanderings of a Bullmoose||Eric Pegram||10|
|Walk No.20||Gwen Seach||12|
|The Kokoda Trail||Roy Craggs||16|
|Sanitarium Health Food||7|
|Hatswell's Taxi & Tourist Service||9|
(With acknowledgment to G.W. who wrote it - from December 1958 issue|
Cold tinned pudding,
Hot tinned beer.
Ham and chicken (sausage) too,
Or perhaps a D.V. stew.
Bad luck that the sweets you brought were
Made unfit to eat by water.
So a rut we try to crack,
Place upon a rock and whack -
First blow, nothing: cursing louder -
Second blow, it's crushed to powder.
Still the dinner's not a failure -
Tastes like the Hotel Australia.
December 21st: Free night. Come in and make last minute arrangements for that Christmas trip, or just to natter.
Decmeber 28th: Club closed.
January 4th: Committee meeting, but don't let this keep you away. A. good chance to earbash your friends about your latest epic walk.
January 11th: General Meeting.
January 18th: Keith Renwick will give an illustrated talk on his stay in America. Don't miss this. Read Keith's story of Yosemite Valley in the March 1960 Magazine.
Coming in February: Australian Birds. Illustrated talk by Mr. Waterhouse and The Bush Music Club.
The President opened the meeting with a welcome to three new members - Richard Planting, Mildred Huntington and Michael Hailstone.
In correspondence was a letter from Roy Bennett, thanking us for including him amongst our Honorary Members, and apologies from the Ashdowns and Harveys, who were basking in the sunshine of Lord Howe Island. Also a copy of a petition being presented by the National Parks Association requesting a National Parks Bill, a National Parks Service and the exclusion of the operation of other Acts, e.g. mining rights, in National Parks. It was agreed we sign this petition.
The Walks Secretary told us that only 9 out of the 15 walks on last month's programme were completed and these were attended by 52 members, 9 prospectives and 8 visitors.
Notice was received of a mountaineering camp to be held at the Mount Field National Park, Tasmania, on January 13-15, with tuition in mountaineering by George Love.
In General Business, Allan Hardie moved that a plaque be placed on Splendour Rock giving the names of those than the memorial tablet commemorated. It was pointed out that the chief difficulty was in finding out the names of all the walkers who should be honoured - many may not have been members of Clubs. The motion was lost.
Another motion by Allan was that we protest against the Hotel at Govett's Leap. The beauty of the Grose Valley from this point would become the exclusive privilege of those who could afford the hotel tariff. Frank Barlow said that the lease had already been granted and Heather Joyce said that it had been discussed at the Federation, which had written to the Blue Mountains Council. The National Parks Association had also taken the matter up. It was decided not to take further action.
At the conclusion of the meeting Kath Brown asked whether the collection of slides which we had decided to make for viewing in the Club room through the new slide viewer had been made. George Grey replied that already 3 people had donated about 30 slides.
The first programmed walks for 1961 will be on the weekend 13-14-15th January. Christmas, and the two weekends following, will find S.B.W's who cannot get further afield camped at Era.
January 13-14-15th: Blackheath - Perry 's - Blue Gum - Govett's Leap. Steep 2000' descent to the forest. Camp under stately blue gums - swimming. Medium climb out via Govett's Leap track. Leader: Arnold Fleishmann.
January 13-14th: Woy-Woy - ferry to Kilcare - Maitland Bay - return to Woy-Woy. Easy walking, views of Brisbane Water and of the coast. Swimming. Leader: Spiro Ketas.
January 20-21-22nd: Kanangra - Christmas Creek - Kowmung River - Kanangra. A rugged trip in spectacular Kowmung country. Private transport. Leader: Bob Duncan.
January 21-22nd: Heathcote - Lake Eckersley - Heathcote. Good camping and swimming. Easy walking. Leader: Jack Wren.
Camp at Burning Palms. Parties leave Friday night and Saturday morning, also a round trip from Yalwal (Ettrema area) led by Wilf Hilder, and, in February Colin Putt will lead a “Kowmung without packs” walk (or splash?).
Roy Craggs intends to lead a 7-day trip aver the Kokoda Trail in May. (Read about his recent Kokoda excursion in this Issue.) Any Starters? Contact Roy Craggs, C/- Four Mile C D W Hostel, Port Moresby, Papua.
In the village that is Sydney there dwell many people, yea, even more than one could count trees in a day's march and the greatest of these and the fairest do meet together in solemn conclave each Woden's Day, planning deeds of great wonder.
So that none save full blood members of the Tribe may participate and share the glory of such wonders, it is their wont to veil these coming deeds in allegory and mysticism, yea, even 24 - 25 Great Southern - Kanangra 37 R 6 25 P M S Canada 61 7000 (B).
Know ye that the Chief Priest of this Tribe is chosen on the Ides of March when the corn is harvested and Sirius, the sparkling one, is in the zenith, and there is much joy and acclamation and pilgrims come from afar, yea, even Oatley, to feast long through the night, sometime known as reunion, though so great are the deeds wrought on this night in prose and verse that many a member of lesser standing would wonder that he were not at the games of Olympus and be overcome by his own pitiful unworth.
And it came to pass that as the Chief Priest whom some knew as St. Clair or simply Red Ron, sat plying his craft, fashioning with nimble fingers many a curved throwing stick - for on the morrow was there not to be great celebration and jousting and competition and verily a huge sacrifice to the gods who dwell at the mouth of the Grose, yea even one whole sheep - there appeared a Vision wondrous clad in cloth of Grenfell and serene.
Now the Chief Priest was much alarmed and in perplexity and fear gazed intently upon the brown flask from which he had been supping, muttering to himself the while “I'll have to give this stuff away”.
But the Vision spake.
“Know ye that thou must have more members for even now Paddy the packmaker cried out in agony and new members must come as a plague of locusts and grains of sand in the dust storm lest his flanks grow thin and his bones bleach in the Wild Dogs”.
And now the Chief Priest was sore distressed and smote his brow thrice but before he could utter the Vision spake again.
“Know ye also that I have seen many a member who hath given long and faithful service carrying loads to break an ox's back, yea, and forsaking their couch before the frost has vanished and the stars been put to flight, to strength their vitals for the tasks ahead - and these are Bad Things”.
“Now hear ye this - it shall be that all those who seek to join your tribe - and may they be as numerous as the sheep in the field, yea, even as the rock'n'roll minstrels that journey to this land from the 48 - shall prove their worth, shall be strong in limb as the English doctor, though not necessarily eaters of grass, and/or fair in countenance as even are the Coca Cola girls and be possessed of great skill and wisdom, yea, even unto contour and magnetic declination and expired air respiration, lest your present followers be ashamed and cry out in lamentation “they ain't like they used to be!”
And they shall be known as prospectives and shall labour even unto carrying for your faithful followers and most especially for the priest who leads and brewing their broth and drawing their water and pitching their tents and seeing that their bodies are made at ease even as the only man on that island so famed by minstrels with their lutes, against the day when they too may enjoy the privilege and blessing and adulation of Full Membership - and these will be Good Things, and the packmaker shall wax fat and the coffers of the tribe than be full and overflowing and there wilt be great joy.”
Thus saying, the Vision vanished and took up his appointed station in the temple of stone in the oasis known as Katoomba where weary wayfarers may gorge on flesh and eggs and drink their fill, yea, even malt and hops, so that He might the better hear more of the great deeds being wrought - (“Burnt the leader off” - “got rid of all my food the first day out” - “carried a ruddy rock up Paralyser”).
And the Chief Priest, overcome by the visit of the Vision, vowed a mighty vow that these things would be done, and, thus resolved, summoned his Chief Scribe, Robert of Camden, and bade him prepare many scrolls and deliver them with speed to all the lesser priests, scribes and soothsayers, and bid them attend a great conclave on the second Woden's Day of the ensuing moon, against the pain of leading the next pilgrimage. These Things the Chief Scribe did with admirable alacrity and unbounded endeavour lest he too be made lead a pilgrimage.
And so it came to pass that a mighty assembly took place in the towering temple of stone at the Place called Reiby and there was a great hubbub as of the waves on the shore or the birds of the air in the evening until the Chief Priest appeared and the murmurings departed as verily does the mead at 10 p m..
And when all was still, save for the wife of Brian busy fashioning raiment of wool, the Chief Priest rose, and spake, and told the assembled throng of the Great Things the Vision had delineated and how members might do a pilgrimage of seven suns carrying but the weight of a newborn lamb if there were a multitude of prospectives, and there was a great shout and loud acclaim and it was clear to see the Vision spake truly when He forecast great joy.
And the Chief Priest spake further - “These prospectives must fill our coffers as well as the packmaker's and they must give up a tithe, yea, even 20 pieces of silver, each six times the moon shall hold her sway”.
Then up spake the keeper of the trees, one called Brian, well known for his cunning in these matters and his wisdom, and verily he spake with a cunning tongue this night as follows:
“Lest there be too few to carry all the members' packs and make the many bowls of hot brew of leaves we so worship, all prospectives must perform many deeds before they be allowed to take the step and join our hallowed band, yea, even 2 pilgrimages by day and yet two more to see the sun set and rise and the stars wheel across the heavens and one of these shall be called Instructional, but the chosen routes must be especially arduous and covered in thorn and sharp flint and encompass many cable lengths yea, even 12 R, and in all this, must see six full moons”.
And then was heard Len, the quiet one, whose words were few as jewels but just as precious when they came. He spake thus:-
“Let the priests who lead be chosen with great skill and cunning lest aught of the prospectives seek an easy path or yet a soft place to lie at night, or warm, his labours being once over.”
Gentle Jack, an elder of long standing, was then heard and spake thus with great wistfulness and no little guile:
“Know ye that I have been sore tried on many a trail and it would indeed be a marvellous thing to hang four eggs on my tent at night where now I hang but two, and have my swollen feet annointed with cool Cox water and my brow stroked by some fair hand and sleep upon many cubits of fresh bracken”:
There was one, David, who knew the flowers all by name, and who oft before had entranced the Council with his rhetoric and wit but on this occasion he spoke solemnly thus:
“I foresee great trouble for verily an uninitiated may perform all these deeds with great fortitude and fine example and may yet prove a viper in the bosom and a thorn in the flesh. Truly, I beg ye, therefore, before any such may pin the garland on they have salt rubbed in their wounds before the elders of this tribe, yea, even the Chief Priest and his Chief Scribe and the lesser priests and scribes and soothsayers some call Committee and they shall prove their worth by word as well as deed and, further, should they make many marks on many scrolls to prove their spirit strong”.
And as he thus spake the doorway to the inner sanctum was thrown aside as the leaves by the gale and there entered a member well revered for his powers of speech and the generosity of the time he would devote to this art, and such were his magic powers of persuasion that a voice called at once, yea, before he even uttered yet a word “Move the motion be put” and it was, and carried, and there was again great rejoicing save with the late member who smote his chest and tore his hair and waxed sore displeased that he be not heard.
And thus it came about that a strange new symbol Ø appeared upon the scrolls of deeds to be wrought so that all members might truly know “Be in on this one - it'll be a piece of cake - plenty of sweet young things with loads of food”.
Have you heard hew a certain female member holidaying on Lord Howe Island distinctly asked for “Medesa” and had the shop girl searching for adhesive “Bear” tape? Not “Bear Tape” says female member of S.B.W. in stage whisper - “Medesa”. “But you said Adhesive”. “No, I didn't, I said “Medesa”. (Stage whisper a little louder) “Toilet Paper”. Now the whole shop and the Island knew we used toilet paper!!!
Do you really think that 'Medesa' said quietly and demurely by feminine lips could possibly sound like Adhesive? Supposing we had been served with “Bear Tape”, then the following conversation piece could really have been fact.
“Why do all those mainland Bushwalkers walk with that queer gait?”
“Bear Tape, my dear”.
- From one who might easily have been a queer gaiter.
the Saitarium food products are ideal for the hot weather. Dried fruits. Nuts. Lighweight. Biscuits. Delicious tinned fruit juices.
13 Hunter St., Sydney. BW1725.
- Bob Duncan.
The leader Helen Barrett, and George Grey, Lyndsey Gray, Gwen Seach and I, all in George's Kombi van, got as far as…. twenty miles beyond Bathurst on the Friday night and resumed the trip early Saturday morning. George steered the van uncertainly under the guidance of our leader, who had been there before, but at last we came to a farmhouse which Helen thought was the residence of the keeper of the caves. Such indeed was the case and after about a 20 minute chat Helen came back with the keys.
“How do we get to the caves from here?” asked George. “Down there I er er think” replied Helen, pointing in a most unlikely direction. “But naturally you asked the bloke” I said. “No” she admitted “we were talking about the new American satellite”. However, George placed great faith in the fact that Helen had been there before and obediently nosed his vehicle along the indicated route. The track branched at ½-mile intervals and at each branch Helen made a snap decision, but with very little conviction and after about five miles she admitted that the country looked unfamiliar.
George's excellent memory for farm tracks got us back to the house where we met Snow who, guided only by his meagre common sense, had driven straight to the caves the previous night and was now on his way back to organise a search party for us. We followed Snow to the end of the caves road and there met Ben and Evelyn Esgate and Mick Elfick.
Ahead lay a big limestone hill and over this the Beluba River; we scattered over the hill looking for holes. Heather soon found one and with George, Snow and Lyndy, disappeared into it. The rest of us explored the hillside for other likely looking entrances, and having catalogued these, made camp and had lunch on the river bank.
After lunch we all went down another hole. This led a long way down through rock fall, very tricky, but with Evelyn's cheery voice to guide us we managed to keep together and I think not a single person was lost. At last we came to a dead end and had to return. Helen had been in this hole before and said the system was very extensive but we had evidently taken a wrong turning somewhere. At any rate we had found enough as by the time we got out it was late afternoon and time to start thinking about tea.
Caves are muddy so we all jumped into the Beluba River for a cleansing swim. I found this particularly enjoyable as my boiler suit had developed a large split in the backside allowing the mud to penetrate more than somewhat.
It was heavenly camping under the red river gums; the ground was soft, the birds were nesting in every tree, the stars were just beginning to peep through the twilight sky, and (according to Helen's information) the satellite was due over at 8.03 p.m. At 8.02 p.m. those of us who had eaten moderately stood up and walked over onto a small rise to look for it. But look as we might, we saw nothing, so we had coffee and crawled into our sacks, Helen first tying herself to a tree as a precaution against rotating herself up the hill and into a sinkhole during the night.
I awoke next morning to the sweet singing of the galahs and crows and Evelyn's voice “Get up Duncan, or I'll pull you out of your bag”. “Modesty please”, I replied, “I have no clothing with me save that torn-boiler suit hanging on the tree. Throw it to me together with Heather's needle and thread and I'll attempt to repair it”. That done, breakfast eaten, and the more difficult task of arousing Snow and Heather accomplished, we went caving again.
This time we got into a quite extensive system with a dead fox, plenty of squeezes, mud in spots, plenty of bats, and plenty of first class formations. There was gallery after gallery of helectites. It was mighty sitting on our backsides taking the mud slides like cave bears, galloping through the big caverns like wogglydonts, crawling into the small holes like wombats and standing around saying “ooh-ah” when our leader illuminated some of the more beautiful galleries with her magnesium ribbon. But at last on reaching a large cavern George jumped up onto a high boulder and addressed the party. He reminded us of the lateness of the hour, of the depth to which we had descended, and of the long car trip which lay between us and Sydney even when the surface was regained. We all agreed that we should begin the return journey at once. We climbed to the surface, rushed down to the river, had a quick swim, had a sun bake, had lunch, had a snooze, had a final cup of tea and a short siesta and then in no time we were rushing back along the highway to Sydney in George's Kombi van.
We reached Snow's place at Katoomba at 8.03 p.m. I had been asleep but the gears in my grey matter began turning slowly. “8.03 p m. is satellite time” and looking up at the sky, sure enough, there was the satellite as plain as the nose on Snow's face. We all stood on the footpath gawking and Mrs. Brown rushed up and down the street rousing her neighbours and yelling “Good old President Eisenhower”.
Then we got back into the van for the last leg of the journey home to Sydney.
For all your transport from Blackheath contact Hatswell's Taxi & Transport Service. Ring, write, wire or call any hour - day or night.
'Phone: Blackheath W459 of W151.
Booking office: 4 doors from the Gardners Inn Hotel (look for the neon sign).
Speedy 5 or 8 passenger cars available. Large or small parties catered for.
We will be pleased to quote trips or special parties on application.
Colin Putt - for being leader of a 'scientific' expedition to climb hitherto unscaled peaks in New Guinea. Can't say he looked happy about the honour (of having his picture taken).
Denis Gittoes - for travelling to work by canoe on Trainless Tuesday - complete with brief case and neatly furled umbrella.
Hay Creek Canyon lured 13 starters into its dark and frigid depths. We hear stories of Snow Brown standing under a waterfall for two hours as abseilers were helped on their way, and of water which was cold enough to walk on if only the ice hadn't been moving so fast.
George Grey's party descended Jerrara Creek, but by which route? They spent Saturday night camped halfway down (shades of Danae Brook).
Congratulations to Judy Wagg and Richard Redfern, married on 26th November.
- Eric Pegram.
Pressing on down the more picturesque part of the castle-studded Rhine to Koln then across to Hamburg and a much too short visit to Denmark and Sweden before returning to Bremerhaven and the QSS “Ankadia” en route for Canada.
The ship which called at Amsterdam, London, two French and one Irish port was loaded with immigrants of a mixture of nationalities. English lessons were being conducted for those (and there were quite a few) with language difficulties on board alternatively by a “through the nose” American and a “plumb in the mouth” Englishman. These accents only seemed to confuse the unfortunate new Canadian citizens.
It was interesting to watch the way in which people of different nationalities on board behave in different circumstances. For instance, in the leisure period you'd find the young well-built Germans out on the bow (the pointed end) of the ship doing vigorous PT - the Englishmen playing bridge in the lounge - the returning Canadians, mostly servicemen, in the bar telling army type jokes while the Frenchmen coupled with wine bottle and female found a cosy corner and whispered in an attentive ear.
Nearing the end of the Atlantic crossing I was asked to write an article for the ship's paper on the North American courting customs - why I was asked remains a mystery - but it seems they wanted a humorous article (I guess I fit there O.K) to show the young men, who outnumbered all others on board, the different courting approach and to slow down their sometimes over enthusiastic lovemaking. So with the help of a young Canadian lass at the dining table we compiled an article which even tickled the German's sense of humour and got us an invite to the select “end-of-the-voyage” party put on by Immigration Group.
And then at last Blizzardly Cold Canada, the land of the lumberjacks, bull mooses and Buckley's Canadian Mixture. I reckon it's a lot of propaganda. I don't see any ice or snow, in fact I arrived in Toronto in a real beaut Sydney type thunderstorm and its been hot and humid ever since.
You know, before I came to Canada I thought a Red Indian was a Communist from South East Asia?
The Canadians are just getting over “the season”. This is the time of the year when all true men come to life and the annual urge (some throw back from colonial days) to be outdoors roughing it, fishing and hunting for his food, holds him. This urge sends them rummaging through basements and disposal stores for camping gear, studying fishing charts and overloading their cars with every conceivable gadget ever invented by money-hankering business men.
Then off into the country they shoot. Outboard motors, tents, guns and wives all jammed in together. The man undergoes an instant change. From the once easy going pleasant man about the house he becomes the rough unshaven pioneer ready to meet the challenge of the elements and the mild outdoors. The wives, who are pampered all year and who would prefer to be miles away trying on hats or sipping coffee in an air-conditioned bar are disregarded. They, however, bear up well as they know the season soon passes, but in the meantime they endure cooking over smoky fires, being eaten by all sorts of bugs and looking after children who are bent on decapitating one another with a tomahawk.
This fragile husband who likes his home comforts and has a delicate stomach turns into a redeyed roaring male. He wears his trousers low on his hips and baggy at the seat, belches as though a firm ulcer sufferer and uses outdoor language (especially when talking to his outboard motor) his family have never heard. He knows the hills and lakes as though they were his backyard and is willing to share his knowledge with anyone who will listen though he usually manages to get mislaid himself.
When the holidays end and the family returns home, the wife gives a sigh of relief that it's over for another year, the children look forward to food other than baked beans lightly daubed with mosquito repellent and the male, dirty, scarred, and bearded returns to the city with his subconscious basic desire to be a rugged pioneer satisfied for another year - such are Canadians.
Did you hear about the American who thought a guided missile was an island where girl guides camped? He also thought a monsoon was a Scottish youth.
A pamphlet says the dormitories of the Youth Hostel is the best place for youngsters to make friends.
What Bunkum (?)
“It's more friendly When couples use double sleeping bags” says Miss U. Inone, Membership Secretary of the Lonely Hearts Tramping Club.
What Double Bunk'em (?).
Waterfall - bus to and from Garie Beach - Era Beach.
This outing involves a short walk of about 1 mile each way around the base of the cliffs from Garie bus terminus to Era Beach for surfing and general relaxation.
9.20 a m. electric train Central - Sutherland where change for rail motor to Waterfall. Tickets: Waterfall Return at 5/9, plus 5/- return bus fares.
Leader: Frank Leyden.
Heathcote - Heathcote Creek - Waterfall. 8 miles.
There are good swimming holes along most of this route and some will be used for just that. Traverses part of the Heathcote Primitive Area.
8.50 a m. Electric train Central - Sutherland where change for rail motor to Heathcote. Tickets - Waterfall Return at 5/9d.
Maps: Camden Military or Part Hacking Tourist.
Leader: Pam Baker.
Glenbrook - Glenbrook Gorge - Nepean Lookout - Euroka - Glenbrook. 11 miles.
A rock hop down the gorge where there are some nice waterholes. Also excellent swimming at the Nepean River Junction. A scramble up to the Nepean Lookout, then a routine summer walk to Glenbrook.
8.54 a.m. Mt. Victoria train from Central Steam Station to Glenbrook. Tickets: Glenbrook Return at 13/4d.
Map: Liverpool Military.
Leader: Ern French.
- Gwen Seach.
Much of the success of the 1960 Walking Trial was due to the preparation and organisation by Malcolm McGregor.
At our Wednesday night meeting, Malcolm produced 30 envelopes, which contained details of the trips to be taken, and on the envelopes was written a few clues to the walks, such as distance and type of country. From this bundle of well prepared trips, trip No. 20 appealed to us.
With bated breath, Lyndsey, Helen and I waited for the appointed time to open our well chosen envelope. Suddenly Malcolm's voice penetrated the noisy club room “Right, you can open them now”. Immediately there was a hush, and then the sound of tearing paper as frantic fingers tore open the mystery envelopes.
Loud utterances of - “Err–!”. “Where is it?” “Ohh–no!” “Fancy having to go there”. “You had better get the map”, rent the air, but it wasn't long before a11 settled down to serious conversation.
“I will make up a food list and 'phone you, to tell you what to bring”, said Helen, voting herself in for the task. “Lyndsey, mould you cut those maps down to a reasonable size, it will save weight”.
Friday night saw Lyndsey, Bill and myself safely to Megalong Creek crossing, our appointed camp-site. The only mishap that occurred was when Bill took his eyes from the road to admire one of the fairer sex pitching a tent, and this necessitated us to clamber out of the car and push it out of a rather large rut.
There was no daylight next morning when we were awakened from our slumbers by the thump! thump! thump! of Malcolm's heavy-soled shoes, and the flashes of his strong torch as he endeavoured to locate Snow, Heather and Bill who were to start at six o'clock.
Lyndsey sat up in her sleeping bag and blinked in the darkness for a moment, then rolled over me and proceeded to wake John Logan-berry. John did not respond to all this pounding, thumping and rolling of his thin wiry body, but just lay there, cool and calm until Lyndsey gave up from lack of energy (such self-control he has). She then quickly slipped on a pair of brown coloured sandshoes which were worn out in the uppers and made a fast dash across to the already blazing fire. Ben Esgate had patiently coaxed this fire to life with specially selected dry bark, amidst great competition and as he was the only one to succeed the campers came from all directions to rob him of it.
The whole camp was soon aroused and Lyndsey and I went in search of Helen Barrett, the third member of our team. Helen was to come up with Carl Doherty, so we looked around for his green Dodge. Yes, there it was, half hidden by the scrub on the opposite side of the creek.
As we approached the car, a slight movement in the boot attracted our attention away from Carl, who was removing article after article from his pack.
“Who is that?” we asked.
“Helen” he said, “she insisted on sleeping in there”.
We took a closer look and were amazed to see there were two bodies crammed into the boot of the Dodge. I have heard of people sleeping in peculiar places, out never in my life have I seen two people sleeping in the boot of a car.
After a hearty breakfast of 2 hard-boiled eggs and a mouthful of pineapple juice we packed up our packs and were eager to depart on our gruelling 24 mile trip.
Malcolm was there with his watch as we lined up on the starting line. The count down began : five - four - three - two - one - GO. We were off. We had started off by running to make a spectacular start “just for the records” but after about fifty yards we slowed down to a steady walking pace.
After following the Six Foot Track for about 1 mile we turned off and proceeded over dry undulating grassland till we reached the junction of Megalong Creek and Cox River. It would have been nice to linger here for a while under the cool trees and watch the river cascading over the smooth rocks as she hurried by.
Time would not allow us this pleasure so we bounded up the winding Cox's River at a good pace, making light work of the rocks and trees which were in our way. The sun shone on us from a sky of unclouded blue, and what little wind there was served only to make conditions more agreeable.
12 o'clock exactly, and we had reached our half-way mark, Sandy Hook, right on time. Here we met and lunched with the Doherty brothers, who were doing the same trip in reverse. By this time towers of dark rain clouds, trailing a grayish curtain, came slowly towards us from the west.
12.15 and we had made our departure after a hurried lunch of three slices of bread and honey, as we still had the harder half of our journey to complete. It was still raining - a cold steady, drizzle that slanted from the west, as we made our way up the well worn sheep track towards the homestead, from where our long road bash would begin.
On reaching the fork in the road at Cullenbenbong, the rain had stopped, and a burst of glorious sunshine filled the valley. Doubts filled our minds at this junction, as there was only one road marked on our military map. Remembering our lunchtime conversation, when Carl had said “You have a very steep climb ahead of you” we looked from one road to the other…. and automatically took the steepest.
We plodded our way up the steep winding road, and on reaching the saddle I looked over and was horrified at what I saw.
“Wait a minute” I shouted at Helen, who was a few yards ahead of me. “I think we must have taken the wrong road”.
“No, we haven't” she yelled back.
“I am sure we have” I persisted, as I ran to catch up with her.
“The road goes through that gate there and down the other side” she said as I pulled at her pack to force her to stop.
“Yes, I can see that” I answered, “I'm not blind, but I'm sure that that is the Cox River down there, and we shouldn't be anywhere near the Cox now”.
“Are you sure of that?”
“Yes, look there; that is the flat bend that we walked around before lunch. I think we had better have a look at the compass.”
Lyndsey fished around in her pack and produced a small old compass, and Helen set it up on the map, and studied it. Lyndsey and I looked on with interest.
“You are right, you know, Gwen” she admitted, then started to laugh. “Guess what? - we are walking 180 degrees off course”. This was disastrous so we took a vote and decided to sidle around the top of the ridge until we reached the right road.
The road was reached eventually, and we continued to climb it. Up - up - and up it went. Carl was right, we certainly did have a steep climb ahead of us.
2.30 and the start of our descent down Gibraltar Creek; our detour had cost us a precious 50 minutes, and our hopes of getting to Carlon's on time faded. Far below the tree-lined Cox River beckoned us on, and we reached it in record time. This gave us a little more heart to carry on. While Lyndsey bathed in the cool refreshing water at the Little River junction, Helen and I discussed which would be the best way out of the valley. It was getting late and night might overtake us, so we didn't relish the idea of having to ascend the slippery waterfalls of Galong Creek in the dark, and decided on our other choice - Black Jerry's Ridge.
With bent backs and aching muscles we steadily plodded up - up - up, stopping occasionally to gain breath, and admire the view. The darkness was closing in on us, and from the top of the ridge it was a quick run back along the road to Carlon's, where we received a very warm welcome and a hot cup of tea.
Where will you all be at Christmas? Perhaps on an alpine peak, a sunny beach, holding down a tent in a torrential gale, toiling up a mountain pass, abseiling down a cliff face.
Wherever you are, all at Paddy's send you Christmas Greetings and wish you well for 1961.
Every Australian has heard of or remembers the Kokoda Trail where Australia's Armed Forces repelled the Japanese Invasion Army in Papua and finally pushed them back to the coast of New Guinea and ultimate annihilation.
The Trail starts in Papua near Round Falls 20 miles from Port Moresby and is marked by a Monument to the men involved in action there. It ends at Kokoda about 80 miles away and is also marked by monuments, one a tribute to the “Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels”, the native bearers who toiled back and forth with supplies and wounded. The other is to the memory of Australian Armed Infantry Forces.
Eighty miles of Trail which commences very rough, then plunges into the heart of the twisted, tortured, Owen Stanley Ranges. The trail is of native origin and takes the highest and longest ridges and the deepest gorges.
To get a mental picture of the trail, imagine Badgery's on the Shoalhaven, keep the same grade but stretch it for anything up to 8 miles. Throw in mud, tangled roots and sharp stones, stinging plants, insects, boiling heat during the day and biting cold during the night.
Shortly after I arrived in Port Moresby I met an Australian chap in the “Snake Pit Saloon”. His name is John Chapman and he comes from Ulladulla. John expressed his desire to negotiate the Kokoda Trail. I was immediately interested of course and we began to make plans aver several glasses of ale.
Each of us obtained a bearer to help carry our supplies as we realised heavy packs would doom our efforts. John's boy was a well educated native about 20 years named Gani Hamou. My boy's name was Lucano Namu (he was about 18 years old).
On October 30th an Austrian friend, Carl, drove us out to the Monument. We started walking at 8.30 a.m. and toiled up the Golden Stairs (named after the famous Katoomba Stairs). At the top of the ridge we took the wrong turn and by lunch time we realised we were wrong. We found a rubber plantation house and asked directions. We turned back along our original path and camped 5 miles short of the Kokoda Trail that night.
We broke camp at 7.00 a.m. on October 31st and located the correct track at 9.00 a.m. This place is known as Owen's Corner. From here the Trail descends down to the Laloki River, crosses the river and rises to Uberi, a native village on the south side of Imita Ridge. The village was deserted so we had lunch and pressed on. Two miles later we found the villagers clearing jungle in preparation for new gardens. The natives were very friendly; they are Koiaries and live all along the trail almost to Isurava, where Oirakavas are settled. We bought fruit from these natives. I tried to pay them in Kuku (trade tobacco) but they are all Seventh Day Adventists therefore take no stimulants. However, we had 50/- worth of silver in case of such a thing happening.
The Trail from here rose very sharply for 3 miles to 2,700 feet at a pass where we rested a short time until we were attacked by leeches and a large bloodsucking fly. These flies grow to an inch long and are terribly vicious. They brought us much distress. Any insect or leech bites in this country usually become infected and form painful ulcers.
The track dropped sharply for 3 miles to a river then followed the river bed for 2 miles in the water most of the time. We camped 50 yards from the river that night within hearing of Iorabaiwa village. The track rose very steeply to the village and we were too exhausted to make the climb. Unfortunately our campsite was situated over an old ammunition dump which became all too clear to us when the fire exploded, scattering billies everywhere. A very upsetting situation I can assure you. There were no volunteers to douse the fire so we sat well back and shivered in the cool night air until the fire ceased to erupt. In the morning investigation of the area showed evidence of many sunken holes presumably filled with ammunition. We found several 4” mortar bombs and Australian and American rifle cartridges scattered on the ground. Just imagine what would have happened if our fire had been over a 4“ mortar bomb!
This area is thick rain forest and during the night luminous fungus lies every where and fireflies flitter all over the place. The fireflies were drawn to our fire and I felt unhappy to see these beautiful little creatures winking lights extinguished by harsh flames. So far we had not encountered any mosquitoes.
November 1st: Left camp at 7.30 a.m. and arrived Iorabaiwa village at 8.00 a.m. Once again the village was completely deserted. We took 2 pawpaws and left 2/- in payment. No water in this place and we only had 1 quart between four. The day was very hot and we started to climb up to 3,200 feet. The track was steep and the sun blazed mercilessly and there was no cover along the track, only short Kunai grass. At 9.30 we reached a rest house which I later discovered was Army H.Q. during a phase of the war. No water here either and our supply was gone. The heat was absolutely terrific now. We reached the top one hour later and ten minutes later we found natives in a garden, who gave us sugar cane as they had no water. One old chap here accepted Trade Kuku as payment for fruit. We stopped at a small creek for lunch, crossed a river shortly afterwards and once again climbed up a ridge to a mountain summit about 8 miles away at 4,000 feet. This may not seem a very steep grade but the track winds up and down innumerable gullies each one a hell in itself.
Rain started at 4.30 p.m. so we camped because we were once again exhausted and Luciano had breathing difficulties and dizziness. I think this was due to him being a coastal boy. After I pitched the tent the rain stopped and again we had no water. We sent the boys to look but an hour later they returned and their answer was “Ranu Lasi” (no water). A little rain at night left us ½ cup of water between four!
November 2nd: Arose at 5.30 a.m. and drank our pitiful supply of water. Heavy cloud restricted visibility. There was no water for breakfast and so we decided to push on to Nauro village first. We were not sure just how far Nauro was because we couldn't obtain reliable maps of the area.
Within an hour we were on a small rise overlooking Nauro. On the way we found more mortar bombs and old rusty steel helmets and occasionally pieces of firearms. On entering the village, the headman welcomed us and we were soon showered with flowers and fruit. But what we appreciated most was “Ranu Karumu” (cold water) from a spring fed creek. We received pineapples, pawpaws, mandarins, bananas and fresh roasted corn.
Nauro is a lovely village of about 30 grass huts set in two neat rows facing each other about 100 feet apart and the Village Mission Church on a small rise at the end between the two rows. The people are wonderful and we handed around some sweets amongst the children. We hired four carriers to the next village of Menari because we were all feeling a bit knocked up. The lack of water had had a bad effect as one perspires very freely and the moisture must be replaced as quickly as possible. We had been drinking from untreated creek water although we had not drunk water from large and therefore certainly polluted rivers.
We rested up until 10 a.m. then with the native carriers bearing our packs we set out once more, this time with light hearts and very much lighter feet. The natives sang and waved as we left and we called back “Barmahuta” (“Goodbye”). The land was level for about 3 miles; this was the riverside country of the Brown River. We crossed this river by means of a log jam. John fell in and lost his watch so my boy quickly dived into the fast water and recovered it. Shortly afterwards we passed a native heading for Merari. He had three wives because he was a rich man. His wives carried all his gear as is their custom. Well trained, these women, perhaps some of the married bushwalkers could try this system. Later we met four natives walking to Port Moresby from Efogi.
We arrived in Menari at 3 p.m. and received a warm welcome and another deluge of fruit and vegetables, which consisted of taro, yam, sweet potato are cooking bananas. Our residence here was a well constructed hut which is used by the Government Patrols. By now we desperately required a good bath and our clothes were pretty high too. John and I washed in an ice cold river while the bays washed our clothes. The boys were worth their weight in gold. They washed, cooked and cleaned up for us. Besides that they made the trip much more pleasant by warning us of stinging plants and insects. They also showed us some methods of living off the jungle. With a little knowledge the jungle loses some of its hostility and at times is very hospitable.
The evening meal was entirely native food and most delicious. With a small feast under our belts we thought about turning in. The Hut has a wooden floor and is not too smooth. John moaned that the floor was very uncomfortable to sleep on, but I didn't worry - we bushwalkers are tough, we're used to these things. Besides I had a short Li-lo!
November 3rd: A late start because our clothes were slow to dry in this humid air. Again we had hired bearers, a worthwhile proposition at 1/- each per hour one way. I'm not sure if this is good bushwalking and perhaps some will condemn this practice; if any do I invite them to come up sometime and have a go at the Kokoda Trail. I'll go as guide.
At 9.30 a.m. we all moved off through the village, looking far all the world like an African Safari. Next stop Efogi, some 2,000 feet up, after of course a 1,000 foot drop down a gorge. Nothing like going around for these natives, too easy they say. A native Missionary trained for medical work accompanied us as part of his rounds. His district covers 100 miles of bush tracks. This hop, skip and jump to Efogi took five hours, but our bearers wished to return to their own village before dark so they ran down the mountains and trotted up them. John and I couldn't keep up so we had to stop them. Gani asked what was wrong with us? Are you sick Taubada? “No” we replied, “the boys are going too fast that's all”. “Oh”, says Gani, looking very surprised and with a cursory wave of the hand exclaimed “Why this hill is 'Something Nothing'”.
(To be continued).