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The Sydney Bushwalker

Established June 1931

A monthly bulletin of matters of interest to The Sydney Bush Walkers, Box 4476 G.P.O. Sydney, 2001. Club meetings are held every Wednesday evening from 7.30 pm at the Cahill Community Centre (Upper Hall), 34 Falcon Street, Crows Nest. Enquiries concerning the Club should be referred to Ann Ravn, telephone 798-8607.

EditorEvelyn Walker, 158 Evans Street, Rozelle, 2039. Telephone 827-3695.
Business ManagerBill Burke, 3 Coral Tree Drive, Carlingford, 2118. Telephone 871-1207.
Production Manager Helen Gray
Typist Kath Brown
Duplicator OperatorPhil Butt

September 1983

Paradise Revisited - The Blue BreaksDavid Rostron 2
The August General MeetingBarry Wallace 5
Social Notes for OctoberJo Van Sommers 6
Advance Notice - Walk in TasmaniaPeter Harris 7
A Matter of PerceptionDon Matthews 8
City to Surf in Forty Two MinutesNancye Alderson 10
Eastwood Camping Centre - Advertisement 12
Arthur and Us - Part IIBill Gamble 13

Paradise Revisited - The Blue Breaks

by David Rostron

I've expanded on the glories of the Blue Breaks and particularly the Axehead Range to many walkers - in fact to anyone who was patient enough to listen to the spiel. In describing the area and views I usually become quite nostalgic. I was last on the Axehead at Easter '79 so the yearning to return was becoming quite strong and I was virtually compelled to place it on the programme for the June Long Weekend, 1983.

As we headed towards Jenolan Caves on the Friday evening I wondered if we would reach Kanangra Walls, let alone the Axehead. The blizzard/snow storm started near Hampden and continued until we started the descent to Jenolan Caves. Back on top again and we were again driving in a blizzard with 5cm of snow on the road. The odd stars which were visible encouraged us to believe the weather could improve.

We arrived at Kanangra to find Jim Percy's Mazda plastered with snow (he had arrived at 5:00 pm). We had intended to stop at the Coal Seam Cave that night but I felt my reputation as a fine weather walker could be at stake. We decided the Kanangra Cave was to be the venue, followed by an early start and breakfast at the Coal Seam Cave with Jim and Jo.

We waited at the car park for the other vehicles, to make up our party of eleven:- Wendy and Steve Hodgman, Janet Waterhouse, David Lewis, John Redfern, Spiro Hajinakitas, Malcolm Steel, John Reddel and Jim Percy and Jo Van Sommers.

The others needed no encouragement to stop at the Kanangra Cave and we edged our way there, across snow and ice. Two bodies in the cave were quickly identified as Jim and Jo who had set off across the Walls, couldn't find the track turn-off in the blizzard and returned to the Kanangra Cave.

Conditions were cool that night - Jim recorded 00 C on his gauge and there was considerable wind chill factor. However daylight saw little cloud so we were compelled to emerge from warm bags (for a few only) and struggle to get a fire going. Instead of a 7:30 am start from the Coal Seam Cave we struggled out of the Kanangra Cave at 8:15 am.

The wind was very strong on top and everyone appeared to have all their gear on - what an array of beanies, gloves and long pants! Jim reported 10 C on the tops as we tiptoed carefully across the ice and snow covered rocks in brilliant sunshine. There was a very brief photographic stop at the track junction and then a gallop to the Coal Seam Cave. What joy - pushing through the snow and ice covered casuarina scrub. It was a little warmer down off the Walls and we had a disrobing stop at the Bullhead Range track junction. The top of the range to Cambage Spire has been burnt and the track is not always apparent. Again a very brief stop in the cool wind on top of the Spire and then a run down to the Kowmung, arriving at 11:23 am - about 2 hours behind schedule.

It was delightful sitting in the sun on the banks of the Kowmung with the temperature at an incredible 100. The river was at a normal level and looked magnificent as it sparkled and danced across the rocks of the rapid just below the Christies Creek junction. After years of drought the visual experience of this area was like “Paradise Revisited”.

I gave the party the option of an early lunch an the Kowmung (many had collected firewood - a not too subtle form of persuasion), or lunch on Butcher's Creek in l1/2 hours. They opted for the latter, and I was a bad loser in the popularity stakes when we eventually reached the creek, 21/2 hours later at almost 2:30 pm.

Over a brief lunch the next option was discussed - camping on one of the streams forming the head of Butchers Creek or carrying water up onto the Axehead Range for a high camp. I had read of a cave 300 metres from the southern end (Gander Head), and on the eastern side, which had been used by the Kamerukas in adverse weather conditions some years before. With the temperature at lunch being 5-60 and the strong westerly still blowing, the cave appealed to all so it was then a race for the Axehead, two kilometres away.

Where the road crossed the third creek, wine skins were filled and with heavy packs it was slow toil up the 200m of Gander Head. (Our airy perch on the ridge of the Axehead provided a magnificent panorama.) The late afternoon sun highlighted the golden rocks of the Burragorang Walls with Yerranderie Peak and Bonnum Pic standing out in stark relief.

The cold westerly kept us moving and we sidled the first series of rocks on the eastern side. These were 300-500 metres from Gander Head but there was no sign of a cave. We followed the crest to the next rocks which extend over about 200 metres. Sidling was difficult on the east (the normal route is partly on the top and then the west), and the overhangs, visible from a distance, had floors which would only accommodate one or two people. When nearly to the end of this section we came upon a possible 6-person overhang. However the floor shelf was only approximately 3m wide, to the end of a 6m drop. Nearby were a number of places where one or two people could bed down and with some excavation the cave was made habitable.

The cave is about 1 km north of Gander Head. There were no old fireplaces along this section so we assumed the Kamerukas' fire had been covered by sandstone dust. We soon organised ourselves into a timber chain gang, passing pieces up the steep slope and cliff over about 15m to the shelf. A large sleeping platform was levelled and the fire was soon roaring on the only possible location - some rocks adjoining the back wall. Because of the narrow shelf only five to six could stand around ticials stand alongside the finishing line which is crowded with men and women. We are to be given the names of the finalists who arrived long before we did. Andrew Lloyd, a 23-year-old man has won the race in 42 minutes. Second is Zephaniah Ncube from Zimbabwe-and third is David Forbes. Fourth is Rhonda Mallinder and fifth is Moira Xane.

A little 3-year-old is just crossing the finishing line and his dad is pushing the empty pusher so that he can walk to the finish of the race. Here come all the clothes on a trolley and there are also champagne bottles and glasses so that the runners can celebrate after the race. Two men are pushing a lady in a wheelchair and she is enjoying it all. Michael Cleary, Minister for Sport, says: “What a wonderful success this race has been. We give credit to the Sun who organised it and handled an extra 8,000 entrants this year.”

Andrew Lloyd who ran a wonderful race is receiving a large cup and trophy with an athlete on it. Andrew says, “I would like to thank every one involved today, it was fantastic to share in the race. I hope you enjoyed yourself, I did.” Zephaniah Ncube from Zimbabwe says, “I have been in races in the past and I enjoyed this one. I have competed in the Commonwealth Games. Congratulations to those who participated.” David Forbes says, “It is not where you start it is where you finish.” A young man is running past us with a flag which reads “I am going to finish dead last,” and he is the last athlete in the City to-Surf race with 33,708 official athletes.taking part.

Several members of Sydney Bush Walkers took part in the race and they included Barbara Holmes and Evelyn Walker… walking, Jo Van Sommers, Owen Marks (number 18,032), Bob Hodgson, Jim Percy and others unknown. Mrs. Marks and Owen invited members of Sydney Bush Walkers who ran in the race or who were onlookers to their home after the race and a good time was had by all. A special welcome was given there to Jenny Hodgson, the new baby daughter of Margaret and Bob.

Arthur and Us

by Bill Gamble

In March, 1983, a Club walk on the autumn programme went to Arthurs Pass National Park in New Zealand. Two members (Brian Holden and Bronwyn Stow) and a visitor (Steve Tremont) flew from Sydney to join the leader (Bill Gamble) for nine days of walking in the park. The introduction to the park and the first days of the walking are contained in the article which appeared in the August issue of the magazine. This article covers the programmed walk in the Poulter Valley and beyond.

It was shortly before 10:00 am by the time we got away from Andrews Shelter, at the beginning of the track which goes up to Casey Saddle, 777 metres, and then down into the Poulter Valley. After a quiet night at Hawdon Shelter, we had moved ourselves by car to the starting point by 8:30 am, but by the time the vehicle was taken back (we expected to finish the walk there) and Bill and Brian returned on foot it was well after 9:30 am. In short, we did not save so much in time as in the effort of carrying full packs for forty-five minutes. The track up to the saddle is steep initially but after a while settles into a steady climb and then a sidle which eventually descends into the long meadow that is the feature of the saddle. We could have walked up Andrews Stream. The gentle saddle between the Waimahariri and Poulter Valleys is deceptive, more like walking a river flat than the semi-alpine meadow it is. Thick forest sharply defines the limits of the meadow and climbs on up the slopes on either side for another 500-600 metres. In the lee of a now chilly breeze we dropped into the warm tussock alongside Andrews Stream, just below the saddle, and shared our lunch break with sufficient numbers of sandflies to keep us from lingering too long.

We were over the saddle before we really knew it - most interesting and easy to miss - and well worth a second look. Soon we had dropped into Surprise Stream (which joins Casey Stream lower down) and the last of the meadow before picking up the track marker for a sidle down the true right to the Poulter Valley. The track stayed fairly high with a steep drop last and came out in a generous meadow a few hundred metres from Casey Hut. Consistent with the intentions of the walk we only passed through on this fine late afternoon, taking sufficient time to make an entry in the hut log book before crossing Casey Stream to find a very pleasant campsite a little way upstream an the true left. Contrary to previous experiences in New Zealand, the campfire was the first of three which gave off plenty of heat for cooking, and warmth to sit around and talk into the evening under a cloudless night sky. It felt like a bushwalk out of Sydney, only for the tumbling stream and the volume of water which reminded us that we were in another place.

The fine weather continued right through the following day as we walked up the Poulter Valley and on to Lake Minchin where we camped for two days.

The route from Casey Stream up the Poulter Valley is badly affected at first by windfalls and a change in a main channel of the river. These factors and a misplaced reluctance to get our feet wet led us into an unnecessary scrub-bash, taking about an hour to make 200-300 metres to reach the river flats where travelling is easy. Having emerged from this maze of windfalls and scrub, we wandered up to the Poulter Hut (built in the more traditional style of New Zealand tramping hut and which stood back, well maintained, in the shelter of the tree line well away from the main river channels). Then it was a long, diagonal crossing of the Poulter River to reach the confluence of the river and Minchin Stream - it took the best part of an hour.

We found the track marker after a bit of a search, then settled down to lunch in the forest, well-covered to minimise the predations of the sandflies. Our “wilderness experience” was interrupted for a few minutes by a helicopter which landed on the river flats nearby to enable one of the crew to read a rain gauge. It was a quiet walk through the forest, uphill to Lake Minchin, 760 metres. We opted for a campsite on a tussock-covered point which extended into the lake. In the mid-afternoon sun we all, to some extent, freshened up in the cold waters of the lake. Brian fully immersed himself for all of one second - no one else was prepared to break his record whatever the inducements. Mountain peaks plunged right down to the edge of the lake and this meant that we were soon in deep shade even though the afternoon was not late and a good three to four hours remained before dark. There was plenty of time to collect wood for another fire which provided good heat for cooking and to sit around afterwards. Another helicopter flew overhead just on sunset; otherwise we were left to our own devices. The sandflies retreated and the trout rose in the lake. The night was cold and clear.

The next day offered fine weather for our day walk to Minchin Pass, 1082 metres, although by late morning Steve had concluded that a weather change was imminent. But apart from being a rather chilly day on the pass it was not until the early hours of the following morning before the change affected us.

Our exact route to Minchin Pass was not always obvious, but we made good time once we had all decided that getting our feet wet was unavoidable. Until the first plunge we did all sorts of things to try and keep feet dry. There was a reasonable track around the edge of the lake to the gravel flats beyond; and on the far side, where the Mdnchin Stream issues from a gorge, we crossed it to reach a marked track which climbs high and steep, up and over the bluffs on the true right. From there we chose a rock hop up the stream to Minchin bivy (a recently repaired/painted galvanised iron shelter with room for two trampers and packs) then traversed a newly cut stretch of track through 200-300 metres of nasty scrub before sidling up through snowgrass to the pass.

We had thoughts of retreating from the pass to a sheltered place lower down to have lunch, but Steve found a good place on the west slope above the pass which provided shelter and views. We enjoyed a lengthy lunch break free from sandflies and warmed for the most part by the sun. The view across the main divide of the Southern Alps towards the West Coast indicated some pretty rough country and emphasised that our walking had placed us in a position to enjoy an alpine area of rare beauty. We returned to Minchin Lake by the same route and got back dragging as much downed wood as possible for our campfire. We also had company nearby - Pete Williamson from Christchurch who had been tailing us by a day since leaving Hawdon Shelter. We figured that we were the only walkers in the Poulter Valley, which is quite an area for five People to have to themselves. We left a warm campfire and a starry night to awake in the morning to a grey, misty day which would get a lot worse by nightfall.

Our plan was to linger awhile at Minchin Lake and then walk down to the Poulter River, cross it and be camped by mid-afternoon near Worsley bivy in readiness for the scramble over Trudge Col the following day, into the Hawdon Valley. The rain closing in at Minchin Lake moved us out earlier than planned to seek the shelter of the forest, and the showers while we re-crossed the Poulter River did nothing to slow the pace. Uncertain of the weather, we had lunch inside the bivy and left any decision to pitch tents until later. The sandflies both within and outside the bivy were legend.

The hut log book had nothing good to say about the Trudge Col route into the Hawdon Valley and it seemed that much depended upon the weather which was beyond our control. However, we did take the opportunity of walking up Trudge Stream for about 11/4 hours to determine what sort of route it offered to the tops. The first hour was good traveling but then it became a gorge and only the low level of the stream (low level by New Zealand standards) allowed reasonable progress. It sure looked like being an interesting day to reach the col. In the event, the weather determined which route we would take. As we returned to Worsley bivy the rain came in again, heavier and persistent, and it continued throughout the night to raise water levels, probably about 20 cm. The outlook to the tops was bleak, low cloud and gale force winds. We stayed in the bivy overnight as a refuge from the weather.

It was a small A-frame hut with a sleeping platform which took four people and gear comfortably. Bronwyn, who did not go on the trip up Trudge Stream, had spent part of the time cleaning it out and the bivy was in top shape for our stay. It was left to Steve and, belatedly, Bill to try (unsuccessfully) to clear out the hundreds of sandflies around windows. Outside, they numbered in their thousands, so our comfort inside really had to be measured relative to the alternative.

Assisted by a tailwind we were buffeted along an our walk back down the Poulter River, the Trudge Col route abandoned in the face of the weather. There was no way of crossing the channels with dry feet and very soon we were crossing and re-crossing them without much thought as to whether they could be avoided. We made good time and called in at Poulter Hut for morning tea. Intermittent rain squalls followed us all the way to Casey Hut. We did not repeat our scrub-bash this time and at Bronwyn's prompting opted for a double crossing of one of the main channels of the river - what had taken us an hour before was covered in less than ten minutes. For the first time it was felt necessary to link arms to give more stability against the swift current. We beat the heavy rain into Casey Hut and that pretty well determined our staying there for the night as a refuge from the weather. As the afternoon wore on the weather became worse (a radio call to Park HQ elicited a pretty flexible forecast of more rain and wind, probably clearing) and by the time We climbed into our bunks for the night an electrical storm was under way. In all, it looked rather doubtful as to whether we would be moving very far from the hut the following day.

It was still raining in the morning, but there was sufficient lightness in the sky to push ahead with plans and walk back over the Casey Saddle. Protected under the canopy of the forest we were only vaguely aware of a slow deterioration in the weather as we climbed. Certainly it was becoming cool - our thoughts and efforts, however, seemed to be directed more to keeping our footing on a route which had become a watercourse rather than a track. At the beginning of the saddle, we left the protection of the forest and felt the full effect of the wet and cold as we scurried on to find the bivy on the saddle. Crammed into this drafty, dirty and dilapidated shack, we slowly thawed and put an most every piece of foul-weather gear we could muster. Obviously the weather gods were impressed for as soon as we moved off across the saddle, the rain and wind ceased. Within the hour the clouds were breaking and we stopped for lunch alongside a tumbling stream in the beech forest.

It was a sunny and warm descent to Andrews Shelter with sweeping views into the Waimakariri Valley, and we needed to wear only the minimum of gear for a decidedly warm walk back to our starting point at the Hawdon Shelter. Over this last stretch we spread, either talking or lost in our own thoughts. Thereupon we repaired to the tearooms and general store at Arthurs Pass - thirty minutes away by car - for an orgy of junk food, ice cream and milk shakes before returning to camp for the night. The early evening quiet in the shelter by the fire was shattered by the arrival of Friday evening trampers from Christchurch and eventually we retired shaken but still intact to our tents.

Our last day which had been reserved in case of bad weather delays was spent in a day walk up the Hawdon Valley as far as the comfortable hut located on the true right about 30 minutes walk past the East Branch fork. There were many people moving along the route. The volume of water flowing in the river made us give our crossings a little thought each time we approached the main channel. We linked arms once. By the time we reached the hut, the day was wet and cold and we appreciated the refuge which the hut provided for lunch break. Perhaps we all were not quite so enthusiastic about the numbers of trampers which crammed into the place - someone counted over twenty at one stage. Walking back down the valley we seemed to keep a few minutes ahead of worsening conditions spreading across the main divide from the west. We shared the Hawdon Shelter with two deerstalkers who had found the weather in the upper basin of the East Branch unenjoyable and had come down for the night. Late afternoon and early evening was a time to tidy gear in preparation for the return to Christchurch the next morning. A warm fire and protection from the wind and rain contributed to a relaxed evening. But overnight conditions worsened and we were faced with having to dry tents and Brian's sleeping bag in front of the fire before leaving shortly after 8:00 am.

The weather improved by the kilometre and by the time we reached the tearooms-cum-general store at Springfield for ice creams etc. it had become a warm, autumn day. Christchurch was breezy and very warm and was probably experiencing higher temperatures than Sydney with its change to wet weather. It was a good day to do some washing. The leader left his party heading for shower and laundry block at Addington Motor Camp, while he did much the same a little later at a friend's home in nearby Spreydon.

Bill caught the evening Qantas flight to Sydney and was home at Bondi by 10:00 pm. Brian, Bronwyn and Steve went on the next day to Abel Tasman National Park, which is another story.

(Map references: Arthurs Pass National Park, NZMS 273, 1:80,000, 1st edition; Otira, NZMS 1, S59, inch to the mile series.)

198309.1458775432.txt.gz · Last modified: 2016/03/23 23:23 by kclacher