A monthly bulletin of matters of interest to the Sydney Bushwalkers, Northcote House, Reiby Place, Circular Quay, Sydney N.S.W. 2000.
Editor: Neville Page, 139 Riverview Rd., Avalon, N.S.W. 2107 Typist: Lesley Page, 139 Riverview Rd., Avalon, N.S.W 2107 Business Mgr: Don Finch, 6 Royce Ave., Croydon.
A Few Notes from the Editor At The General Meeting Jim Brown 3. Birds of Perth Kath McKay 6. Letter 9. A Dog of a Time Down Claustral H (e) LP 11. Jagungal Man Jim Brown 12. Notices 17. Swimming Carnival Results 18.
The Editor knocked at the Pearly Gate His face looked worn and old He meekly asked the man of fate For admission to the fold.
“What have you done?” asked Peter “To seek admission here?” “Oh, I ran a monthly paper For many and many a year!”
The gate swung open sharply As Peter touched the bell, “Come in” he said, “and take your harp” “You've had enough of he11.”
This editor, rather than looking back on the years of hell is looking forward to what the future holds for him. He doesn't really want any divine sympathy, nor does he see the “Sydney Bushwalker” as a quick stairway to Heaven.
In fact, this editor has only two desires: 1. That people will write enough to fill the magazine every month; and 2. That people will read it.
The two are inseparable of course, with one depending on the other, so here is a plea to all persons sufficiently interested to put pan to paper for the magazine. Literary masterpieces are not what we require; simply interesting accounts of trips, observations, details of walks, poems, jottings, notices, and in fact anything which would be of interest to other bushwalkers. Remember that this is your magazine, and it represents the major means of communication between members.
By Jim Brown Two new members - Heather Smith and Morag Rider - were welcomed as a pipe opener to the Annual Meeting when it got moving at 7.50 p.m. After reading the February Minutes, Phil Butt mentioned the C.M.W. proposal that Federation should be stirred up, and President Don Finch said that this question would come up later. Suspension of standing orders followed, to permit elections and annual business to run concurrently with the routine affairs.
Correspondence contained a letter from the Dungalla Club suggesting the Kangaroo Valley land be named, and offering as apossibility “Camp Pallin”. There was notice of the 1970 Orienteering Contest (to be held 23rd. May) and a reply from the Water Board saying that a 175 ft. high dam will be constructed near the Shoalhaven/Kangaroo junction: it was unlikely that land holders upstream of the stored water would be affected, but a final decision on such matters had yet to be made.
Considering these issues, there was some discussion on the name for the property, after which it was agreed that an Aboriginal word, preferably of local application, should be adopted. Amongst several quoted by Don was Wandandian, one translation of which is “Home of the Lost Lovers”. Some people evidently felt we shouldn't hurry to use such a romantically inept title, and it was resolved to hold the naming over till the April meeting. Wilf Hilder offered to produce a list of possible names.
The Annual Report was adopted, and arising from it a motion that magazine affairs should be reported in it in future. To wind up all mention of the “Era Trust” now that the Kangaroo Valley project had absorbed all monetary proceeds from it, a suitable motion was carried. The Annual Financial Statements were also adopted, the Treasurer explaining that the apparent trading loss on the magazine was much less than it seemed, as a good stock of covers was held. Commenting on the statements, Gordon Redmond pointed out that income from the Club's assets would be less because $1,000 in bonds had been invested in Kangaroo Valley. Ron Knightly suggested that copies of the financial statements sent to the Chief Secretary should have a covering letter to amplify remarks made by the Auditor on the topic of donations to the land purchase.
Meanwhile elections were proceeding under the scrutineering eyes of Owen Marks and Paddy Bourke, and with Edna Gentle in her customary role of scribe.
The monthly financial statement showed an end-of-February balance of $871, and the Walks Report covered a reasonably active month for the summer period. Ramon U'Brien's lilo jaunt on the Wollondilly went as planned, and a good array of wild life was seen. Jim Callaway's day walk on 8th February brought forth 17 people, including no less than 14 prospectives, on the Bundeena-Otford canter. There were 59 at the Swimming Carnival, nicely distributed as 25 members and 17 each prospectives and visitors. Barry Pacey's programmed walk suffered a couple of amendments, and finally went to Newnes, and there were two day walks on Sunday 22nd: Lynne Wyborn and party of 15 went dawn Claustral Canyon, accompanied by a dog who evidently didn't enjoy the abseiling. And there were 22 on your reporter's easy day walk to Era, where conditions were cool and. overcast. For the final weekend Mike Short's party of five went to the Wollondilly in the Basket Creek area, Alan Pike and party scrambled down Arethusa Canyon and at one stage thought they had disaster on their hands; and David Ingram's party to the Woronora River on the Sunday was fairly numerous, but “kept well together”.
Reporting Federation doings, Wilf referred to new maps on a 1:100,000 scale of Boggabri and Kosciusko (the latter reported to be very reliable); it was mentioned that the insurance scheme for S.&.R volunteers does not provide cover unless the injured searcher actually loses time from work. Conservation bodies are preparing to protest against a plan to a tourist road through a vital part of Now England National Park. Federation Ball is set down for llth September. The Police Dept contributed $50 towards tho cost of a recent search in the Grose Valley, and the Bush Club, now with a membership over 100, has donated $30 to S & R funds.
The election being over, we came to that traditional battleground, the fixing of the annual subscription, with the Treasurer proposing an all-round increase of 50c to make the normal annual sub $6, married couples $8, students $4 and the entrance fee remaining at $l. The result, he claimed, would be about $130 p.a in increased funds. Opposition came from Frank Ashdown, who moved an amendment having the effect of reducing present subs. by 50c. (i.e. $1 less than the Treasurer's scheme); Marcia Shapport would have preferred present rates to stand, and foreshadowed a motion to this effect if those before the meeting failed. However, the amendment was lost, and the Treasurer's plot carried.
At about this stage George Gray mentioned that the Shoalhaven Shire had set a rating of about 3c. in the $ and depending on the assessed value of the Kangaroo Valley land, this could mean land rates near $90. The retiring President said the Management Committee had some proposals for the Kangaroo Valley land, among them the repair of the existing hut and erection of the other hut for which most of the material was on the site; the installation of a tank to give an assured good water supply or alternatively the provision of a plastic pipe line from the side creek. Once again, members were unwilling to be rushed, and it was voted that these proposals wait until people had a chance to look the place over during the Reunion weekend.
At long last the question of the CMW stimulation of Federation was under notice - and no one had any real opinions, except Phill Hall, who suggested that office bearers, working as a Committee, might think the matter over and put forward any ideas that emerged.
Don Finch thanked the “permanent volunteer” Room Stewards, David Ingram and John Holley, who agreed to carry on the good work “if only to save embarrassment.”
Frank Ashdown queried the fire lighting regulations for National Parks published the N.P.A. journal. Opinion was voiced that, with the possible exception of Kurin-gai Chase, the restriction on lighting fires only in authorised places was intended mainly to give control over the unwise use of fire, and would not be used to harass walkers and campers normally. It was agreed, however to ask Federation to confirm that this was the position.
Owen Marks managed to have the last words at the meeting. He put it forward that it was time to have done with the “burn, bash and bury” motto, and instead carry all one's litter away from the bush. Finally, he demanded to know why he had been singled out to be listed on the list of members by his surname only. This, of course, was, unanswerable, and the meeting closed at 10.15 p.m.
NOTE: A full list of Office Bearers appeared in the March issue of “The Sydney Bushwalker” (page 18).
By Kath McKay
This magazine is devoted to matters of interest to bushwalkers, and undoubtedly they are all interested in birds. Of course, there are birds and birds…
Recently in a broadcast quiz they asked what Polonius was referring to when he said “springes to catch woodcocks.” The contestant answered quite correctly that he was describing Hamlet's protestations of love for Ophelia, springe being a trap and woodcock a bird.
But that is not the kind of bird I mean. An esteemed member of the S.B.W. (Jess Martin) sent me a charming Christmas card of a blue wren family, which reminded me that we never see blue wrens in Perth. Nor are birds of any sort as plentiful here as in softer climes, and some visitors have asked plaintively “Where are your birds?” But they are here, if you only take note of them.
Pigeons of course, are as much of a headache here as elsewhere, and the custodians of public buildings despair of keeping their porticos spick and span. We see Willie Wagtails, and peewees are omnipresent; butcher birds sing their matchless song in some tall gums bordering my land, and when the coral (or flame) trees are in flower, painted lorikeets fly over in swarms to feast on their honey.
Numbers of galahs wheel about the sky regularly, but some say they are released pets, set free because their owners did not want to pay the tax. Yes, there is a tax on caged birds here, and though laudable, I do not think it is rigidly enforced. The galahs are certainly not in their rightful habitat, as in Western Queensland, where they may be seen in thousands. They may be so in parts of Western Australia too, but not in Perth.
The familiar croak of crows falls on our ears “Dead 'orse, dead 'orse! Where, where? Over there. Is 'e fat? Fat, eh? 0 Lord!”
Great black cockatoos raise their unmistakable cry in the tall pines, where they perch, cone in claw, black tongues ferreting out the sweet kernels. They tell me there is a caravan park to the south where prominent notices are displayed, “Beware of the cockatoos”, because there are pine trees above the caravans, and cones, dropped from a height, can inflict quite nasty wounds on unwary heads.
In the grape vines that flourish in this dry land, little greenies, which seem to be the same as our silver-eyes, dart in and out, checking the aphis in the early stages and later, doubtless, taking toll of the ripened fruit; but there is plenty for all.
Swallows wheel as usual under the eaves of buildings. Banquo, speaking of martlets, which are a kind of swallow, says:
This guest of summer, The temple-haunting martlet, does approve By his loved mansionry, that the heaven's breath Smells wooingly hero; no jutty, frieze, Buttress nor coign of vantage, but this bird Hath made his pendent bed and procreant cradle. Where they most breed and haunt, I have observed, The air is delicate.
We11, maybe, but sitting on the two-sided Armadale railway station for half an hour, the train for Perth having snuck out on the other side, unbeknownst to me, I had nothing to do but watch the swallows in the roof, and believe me, the air was anything but delicate. Sulphurous, probably, with suppressed profanity.
All night, in a neighbouring tree, a single note was repeated, mournfully and tirelessly. It went on every night for weeks, and I found out at last that it was the cry of an owl, but it was not like the “oo-oo-oo-oo-oo” of old frogmouth, familiar to us in New South Wales.
Magpies are here in their hundreds, and I was delighted to see them bending over the tap which I had deliberately left dripping above a trough in a far corner. Lawn sprinklers attract them irresistibly, and they rush under them, wings outspread, and dry off after their shower on the neighbouring grass.
Some of the birdnotes are unfamiliar, but the other day I heard the curious soft creak of the black-faced cuckoo shrike, and there were three of my elegant slim grey friends.
To my sorrow though, my favourite bird, the sparrow, is taboo in Western Australia as it might damage the wheat crop, and is shot on sight. Recently three sparrows hitch-hiked on a ship from South Australia, and were hunted immediately. One was killed, but two, a cock and a hen, got away and are still at large. Would anyone seeing them please notify the authorities. I feel like the boy in Masefield's ballad of the hunted fox “Would I be saying which way he went? Not I!”
In London we used to save our crumbs and take them down to Kensington Gardens to feed the sparrows. I have had as many as three lighting on one hand. And once, when a party of S.B.W.s were lunching in Nielsen Park, the little fellows swirled round us, thick as fallen leaves in an autumn gale. But is not wheat of more value than many sparrow? Western Australia thinks so.
In “Walden,” Thoreau says that when a sparrow perched on his shoulder he felt more honoured than if it had been an accolade of knighthood. I should feel the same.
EDITOR'S NOTE: For all those who may be interested, Kath McKay's address in Western Australia is as follows: 18 FIFTH ROAD, ARMADAIE, W.A. 6112.
The Rollicking Bawdy Musical Commedy, Starring Johnny Lockwood, Evelyn Page, Rob Inglis, Nick Tate, & Alwyn Leckie. “CANTERBURY TALES” The Social Secretary (Owen Marks) is organising a Theatre Party for Tuesday, 19th. May. Tickets are $3.00 each for the Mezzanine Lounge. Ring Owen (30-1827) or see him.
12 Mahratta Avenue, WAHROONGA, N.S.W. 12th. February, 1970.
The Manager, “The Sydney Bushwalker” Magazine, SYDNEY.
In forwarding renewal of subscription I wish to express disappointment at the lack of news in the Magazine. Apart from the valiant efforts of “The Observer”, Pat Harrison and Jim Brown, there is nothing except adverts. and blank pages. Jim Brown's report of the monthly general meetings only conveys such news as is brought forth from matters arising, but surely there must be other news amongst a couple of hundred active people. For example, there was no mention of one member, namely Paddy Pallin with Reg Meakins, going to the base of Mount Everest. No news of the success or otherwise of clubroom entertainments. No Federation Report (when I was a delegate there was always a carbon copy to the Ed.). The fact that Frank Ashdown was back from overseas was not mentioned. Apart from announcements from the Chair, which those who have no need to attend the Clubroom don't hear, there is no written communication between the Committee and the bulk of the Members. Surely there must be something arising in Committee which would be of general interest. There are, or should be, if sufficient members can be found, four on Committee without portfolio, one of whom could be made liaison officer with the Editor on such matters as are not confidential to the Committee. Surely there is one person, regularly in the Clubroom, with one ear to the ground, who constantly gleans news and can give a written account of it to the Editor. At one time the Social Secretary wrote up coming events in the magazine so as to give people some clue as to what the entertainment consisted of. And bods were encouraged to write up in advance the highlights of forthcoming trips. I doubt if there have been any detailed directions published on how to get to the Kangaroo Valley land - surely someone takes some pride in the acquisition and wants all to see it.
As the nonactive sees it, he hears more outside the Club than is conveyed by the Magazine. There is a wide gap somewhere in the Club communication system.
Please address all letters for publication to : THE EDITOR (Mr. N. Page), 139 Riverview Road, AVALON., N.S.W. 2107.
Saturday night was spent in the comfort of the Wyborn's weekender at Mt. Wilson. The majority of the party bludged around and watched T.V. beside the fire while it was misty and wet outside. Sunday morning after the party had grouped at Mt. Tomah, we reluctantly set out down the ridge towards the creek. Accompanying us was a small friendly grey four-legged furry female animal (dog) which passed the point of no return and was destined to be the first four-legged abseiler down Claustral. It enjoyed quite an interesting walk down to the first small bomb and swim, where it soon lost its courage and cried and whimpered (like some of the other members of the party.)
We proceeded down the creek to the first major bomb where on completion we had one unhappy wet scraggy dog and 15 unhappy wet scraggy “canyoneers”. Not far past this we commenced the abseil section. Three ropes were set in the usual manner and the party began abseiling through the thundering waterfalls into the cold gloomy watery depths below. Because there was a shortage of small slings with provision for four legs, one of our gallant members volunteered his pack to safely transport the dog to the bottom of the abseils. Due to circumstances beyond everyones control the swim at the end of the third abseil was unavoidable.
After this a quick sprint brought us to the usual lunchspot whore a blazing fire was lit and well-used. Our fine furry friend decided it was time to stretch its cold paws on dry land and it rolled around in the dust trying to soak up every bit of available warmth in the earth. It was obvious that it had left its “picnic lunch” at home, so we all donated a few morsels to the worthy cause.
With many moans and groans we continued our journey down to the last swim, where we had to suffer the initial agony before the satisfaction of finding ourselves nearly home. The dog had unfortunately suffered from “Claustralphobia” but once on the ridge it recovered sufficiently to bound home before us.
* By Jim Brown
Some weeks after the trip was over, I was talking about it to Don Matthews, who had been in the same area a few days earlier, when he asked, “Are you a Jagungal Man too?” Although this sounds rather like a relic from pre-history - such as a Neanderthal Man or the Peking Man - I knew what he meant. There are places in the high snow plains which do not always appeal at first, but they grow on you, catch the imagination, and call you back again. Perhaps it is the sheer size and silence of the country that captures one.
I had first visited Jagungal at the beginning of my earliest walk in the Snowy Mountains, in 1947, and, as far as I can recall, was not greatly impressed. The place was pleasant, but seemed uniformly grey-green in colour, and nothing like as spectacular as the abrupt cliffs and blue gorges of other areas I had walked. It was not until a day or two after Jagungal that I began to come under the spell of the high plains, and although I went back to the Snowy Mountains of N.S.W. and Victoria on many later trips, I didn't revisit Jagungal.
Late last year with a December-January holiday in view, and daughter enthusing over the prospect of a week at a “Teen Ranch,” Kath and I got around to discussing what we might do at the same time. It was agreed that the high country is practically the only area where one can walk in comfort in high summers but not the Kosciusko - Albina - Upper Snowy River which had been done to death in a series of summer camps. What about the Brindabella Range, west of Canberra, rising to more than 6,000 feet in places? Well, to do anything really worth-while there it would entail a good deal of hill climbing and we felt like taking it easy.
Presently Kath said “Could we get in to Jagungal?' - the high isolated hummock we had often seen from Kosciusko. After a map reconnaissance, it was pretty obvious that one could plan a fairly easy Jagungal walk, coming in from the north. I said, “It's nice, gently rolling country, with good camping, but nothing like so dramatic as the Main Range area.” I was not yet a Jagungal man.
One of the dubious benefits (from the walker's viewpoint) of operations by the Snowy Mountains Authority is the construction of the Kiandra - Cabramurra -Tumut River - Khancoban road. Using this access, we reached a point near Round Mountain where finger posts indicated the way to Grey Mare Hut and Jagungal, and after an early lunch started off along the Toolong Range.
The track is almost a road however it would be a bold motorist who took a conventional car more than three or four miles south of Round Mountain. The whole of the way is through snow plain country with odd patches of forest, and the ridge undulates gently, but remains generally within the compass of 5000ft - 5300 ft. In this season, following a winter of poor snows, the wild flowers were early and whole fields of yellow bachelors buttons, white, yellow and purple daisies, buttercups and eyebrights reached out ahead of us.
Not long after leaving the car we topped a gentle rise; forward and left of us was the valley of the Upper Tumut River - a relatively gentle hollow at this point - and beyond that was a grey-green mountain rising well above its outliers. Fissured dark rocky battlements formed its north-western face - the one we were viewing. In a matter-of-fact way I said “That's our target - quite a lump isn't it?” but I felt far more impressed than I'd expected.
Throughout a warm afternoon we walked across those flowery alpine meadows, with Jagungal growing larger as we closed up. Once we spotted an emu - the first I'd sighted in the Kosciusko country, althogh I had seen a small group in the Bogong High Plains of Victoria more than 20 years ago.
We camped early on the forest above an arm of Hellhole Crock, and as the yellow light lengthened, we wondered at a white object on the central knob of the three crowns of Jagungal. Could it be the trig? Perhaps, but from an angle the southern top looked highest.
It was mild, and there wore mosquitos about that night - another kind of wild life I'd not found in that area before. Luckily we had netting as a fly-screen and that kept most of them out of the tent.
In the morning it was again warm and bright with some wind in the south west, and it took only 2 1/2 hours to reach the track junction at the western side of Jagungal. Our plan was to set up camp, have early lunch, then tackle the hill without packs in the afternoon, and a nicely sheltered spot in a side gully becme our tent site.
We had got into position so early that it was only a few minutes after midday when we started for the top, up a steep little spur which leads on to the long gentle south west ridge of the mountain. Half an hour brought us on to this meadow-like spur with some of the densest growth of snow daisy I've ever seen. The added height allowed us to look south towards the main Kosciusko - Townsend top and west over the Dargals, and between those two high areas the sky had a hazy, bruised, blue black look. (Had I said a little earlier ”'We don't need capes and groundsheets - it's not going to rain?“ ). Kath said “That's a weather change - we'd better hurry if you're going to get photographs.”
It was a change, all right, and coming up fast, so we made a dash for the summit. The first few drops of wind-blown rain hit us first below the top, and we refuged in an overhang formed by several leaning boulders. The crevices in the rocks were clogged with brown-yellow moths (Bogong moth?) and when I lit a cigarette they tumbled out in hundreds, flopping stupidly on the earth floor.
That first sprinkle blew over, and we scuttled up to the trig - the white cement object on the middle crest, now quite obviously the top. Now cloud was sweeping over, there was no photograph in it, even though the big tops to the south looked intriguing in the fleeting scod of cloud and rain. After that, apart from a brief refuge in another flying shower, we went down fast, and were back to the tent by 3.00 p.m.
The sky cleared, warm sunlight streamed down, while we took afternoon tea. Then another cloud - a dark, threatening one - and we retreated to the tent. “We'll have dinner when it blows past.”
It didn't “blow past” till the middle of the night. In the intervening hours the hills rolled with thunder, the wind roared up and down the side gully, carrying sheets of rain, and dribbles ran down the lower walls inside the tent where the long snow grasses rubbed the wildly waving fabric. We managed a cold tea, and settled down for the night in an attitude of great togetherness.
After midnight it blew clear, and in the brilliant morning the tent was frozen stiff. We thawed ourselves and the tent in crisp sunlight, and started along the trail which skirts the northern side of Jagungal, then heads east and north towards Farm Ridge and Doubtful River. The myriads of flies had gone to cover in the keen and back in the north west was Round Mountain - now our destination.
A couple of hours on the way, passing again through clustered daisy bush and yellow buttons, brought us to O'Keeffes Hut. The visitor's book contained an entry two weeks old by Don Matthews, who had been there with a colleague of winter skiing trips, and had written “going on to Farm Ridge Hut for the night.”
For some distance beyond O'Keefe's Hut, Jagungal still dominated the skyline behind us, but its northern outliers blocked it out as we went down to cross Dogong Creek. It reappeared as we topped Farm Ridge, and there - ah, the hut, it was a tumbledown ruin with barely a stick standing. We wondered how Don and his mate had enjoyed their sojourn there. (He told me later “I was pretty sure it had gone, but Roger seemed positive we could use it — any how we camped just near.”)
We did likewise, camping by lunch time in a patch of forest with an ourlook over a pasture that was almost as yellow with flowers at noon as it was in the golden evening light after we had returned from a leisurely afternoon stroll along the Happy Jach. trail, and over the Doubtful River - where I'd “come in” to the alps more than 22 years before.
On the last morning we turned off at the signposts a few yards above the wreckage of Farm Ridge Hut, and headed north along the range. The spur obviously hadn't been traversed by wheeled vehicles for a long time and the track was obscure in spots, but it proved an easy, open ridge. At each halt we looked backward, and though our big mountain was receding, somehow it loomed larger in our recollections as we moved on.
We didn't lose Jagungal until we descended the final 900ft. into the wide treeless valley of Tumut River, where some fallen fence posts yielded full for our lunch brew-up. Then we took to the final hill, climbing past Round Mountain Hut and rejoining our outward path near the eastern shoulder of that mountain. Once again the big fellow served to fill the south-eastern sky-line behind us, and only at the last knoll before we came down to the “car park” by the Cabramurra Road, did Jagungal finally disappear.
It seemed quite proper that the mountain should be out of sight from the road. Jagungal is still sufficiently far from frequented roads to be a walker's mountain, and there is some satisfaction in going to it, coming under its particular fascination, and being able to say to Don's question - “Yes, I'm a Jagungal man.”
All articles and notices for publication in the May Magazine to be in the hands of the Editor not later that 15th. May, 1970.
The Treasurer advises all Members of the Sydney Bush Walkers that subscriptions for the 1970/71 year are now due and payable. Rates are as follows: ACTIVE MEMBERS: $6.00 MARRIED COUPLES: $8.00 FULLTIME STUDENTS: $4.00 NONACTIVES: $1.00 Please oblige with an early remittance.
The following are the results of the S.B.W. Swimming Carnival held earlier this year at Lake Eckersley. WOMEN'S FREESTYLE:
1st N. Bourke 2nd C. Brown 3rd M. Lloyd
1st D. Ackland 2nd B. Pacey 3rd L. Quaken
1st R. Bourke 2nd N. Bourke 3rd C. Brown.
1st L. Quaken 2nd L. Rayner 3rd E. Engels
1st R. Bourke 2nd C. Brown 3rd D. Noble
1st K. Muddle 2nd B. Pacey 3rd C. Shappert
WOMEN 'S PEANUT SCRAMBLE:
1st N. Bourke 2nd H. Lowrie 3rd K. Brown
MEN's PEANUT SCRAMBLE
1st E. Engels 2nd S. Hinde 3rd L. Davidson & L Rayner
The Club Cups were awarded as follows: FARQUFAR CUP: N. Bourke (for highest aggregate - women) HENLEY CUP: L. Quaken and D. Ackland (equal score - aggreggate highest points - men) MANDELBERG CUP: N. Bourke and L. Davidson.