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Author Archive | Justine Bourke

Floods Ignite Raising Warragamba Dam Wall Debate

In late March 2021 an extreme rain event on the Australian East Coast caused serious flooding which endangered people and property in many areas including the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley on Sydney’s outskirts. The Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley flood highlighted the dangers of urban development in flood-prone areas given the high likelihood of more climate change-induced flood events in future.

The rain event and resulting floods have intensified debate on the controversial proposed 14 metre raising of Warragamba Dam Wall.  Many experts and conservationists contend that the most extreme floods are unlikely to be stopped by raising Warragamba Dam wall. Flooding in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley comes from other river/creek sources in addition to water flowing over Warragamba Dam wall. In addition the geography of the Hawkesbury-Nepean area restricts the amount of water that can flow out of the Valley.

The Colong Foundation for Wilderness states that the raised dam wall proposal is being driven by pressure from developers.  As part of the Warragamba Dam wall raising proposal, Infrastructure NSW plans to house an additional 134,000 people on the Hawkesbury-Nepean floodplain in coming decades. The Foundation states that people in new and existing residential developments in the Valley will not be safe from future extreme floods even if the Warragamba Dam wall were to be raised.

The Foundation states that the proposed dam wall raising will lead to flood water inundation of World Heritage listed Blue Mountains National Parks and wilderness streams and desecration of rare and ancient natural heritage and Indigenous cultural sites.

Adding weight to arguments against the raised dam wall proposal, the Australian Insurance Industry recently withdrew their support for the Proposal due to concerns over the probable loss of important cultural sites and natural habitat. The Industry suggested that the State Government should investigate alternative measures to mitigate flood risk in the Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley.

Alternative flood mitigation actions available to the State Government include improving floodplain evacuation routes such as the Castlereagh Connection, pre-emptive dam-water release water and relocating people in the most flood-prone areas. NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro recently stated that alternatives to the dam wall raising need to be considered including lower water levels and building desalination plants for water supply.

 

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Dalmeny-Narooma Bushwalkers – Eurobodalla Regional Botanical Gardens

Eurobodalla Regional Botanical Gardens Easy 6km walk, Dalmeny-Narooma Bushwalkers, Saturday 27th March 2021

A recent Dalmeny Narooma Bushwalkers Club walk was an easy 6kms in Eurobodalla Regional Botanical Gardens. The Eurobodalla Regional Botanical Gardens are set on 42 hectares of Mogo State Forest, adjacent to Deep Creek Dam. The site has not been logged since the early years of the twentieth century and visitors can appreciate many of the region’s plants in a natural setting.  The Gardens has 8kms of beautiful public walking tracks which vary in length and gradient to cater for individual requirements and limitations.

It was a perfect day for the Club’s walk during which Margaret Lynch explained what was happening in the Gardens.  After the recent bushfires a lot of work has been completed and more is planned. The walkers were delighted to see the Gardens regrowth including many young green wattles which protect the undergrowth floor and let other native plants thrive.

The Club members walked 5.5km and had a look at Deep Creek Dam, for which a new lookout is planned. At the end of the walk Bev Brazel thanked Margaret for the walk on our behalf. Some walkers enjoyed lunch at the Cafe, some bought plants, and others had their lunch in the grounds. Overall all participants agreed that it was a very pleasant day.

Our Club of the Month for April 2021: Dalmeny-Narooma Bushwalkers

Our club of the month is Dalmeny-Narooma Bushwalkers who have been walking for 35 years. The Club meet at the Red Tractor, George Noble Park, Dalmeny, with a plywood tractor now used to represent the original to honour the Club’s history.

Dalmeny Narooma Bushwalkers was established in May 1986 to encourage bushwalking as a pleasant group activity. The Club welcomes new walkers to join in and enjoy the beautiful bush and coastal environments of the far south coast of NSW.

Volunteer walk leaders offer various grade bushwalks twice a week around the local area of Eurobodalla and Bega Valley, as well as club camps in other localities and some social activities. The Club aims to keep its procedures as simple and as affordable as possible but also has a few rules to keep all walkers safe in the bush. Walks are grouped into 3 programs a year – Autumn, Winter and Spring – and are published on the Club’s website.

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The Walking Volunteers

Sydney Trackwatch

 The Walking Volunteers Inc. have been proof-walking, mapping and providing walking routes around Sydney to walkers for 17 years. They now have over 1,300 kilometres of walking routes on their map and hope to add another 200 kilometres in the next month after approval has been granted by various land managers.

However, keeping track of changes on the walking routes is becoming more of a challenge as the network increases. The Walking Volunteers want to thank the walkers and land managers (e.g. Councils, National Parks & Wildlife Service, Western Sydney Parklands Trust, etc.) who often advise them of new and changed paths and tracks. However, tracks and paths are often closed for essential infrastructure (e.g. sewage pumping stations, light rail, etc.) or damage from natural events. It may take several months before the Walking Volunteers find out about these closures and when they do, they are able to liaise with land managers and establish alternative routes which are immediately updated on their maps and, via the magic of the Internet, updated on walkers’ smartphones, tablets or PCs. However, finding out about changes may take months and, in the meantime, walkers find it very frustrating to find a walking route on the maps has been closed.

So, the Walking Volunteers are introducing a program called Sydney Trackwatch to discover any changes or closures to the walking routes on their maps as soon as possible. It is very simple and does not require filling out complicated forms. Just let the Walking Volunteers know (Email: info@walkingvolunteers.org.au or Phone: 4784 2002) immediately of any changes or closures on the walking routes shown on any of their maps (Sydney Walking Tracks, Walking Coastal Sydney, Great West Walk). Also, let them know of any alternative routes you used to bypass the problem area. They will immediately re-walk, re-map and put the alternative routes on their maps as well as follow up the organisation responsible to find out when the walking route will be re-opened. When it is re-opened, they will immediately re-walk the route and change it back to the original course.

A good example of this is North Head, where the Walking Volunteers changed the route on their maps after the intensive bushfire in October 2020 and are now liaising with Sydney Harbour National Park and Sydney Harbour Federation Trust to change back to the original route when the fire-damaged areas are re-opened to the public.

All it takes is a quick phone call or email to assist the Walking Volunteers and your fellow-walkers!

 

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The Jack Mundey Spirit Lives On

Peter Stevens, a past President of the Wolli Creek Preservation Society, has been
honoured by Canterbury-Bankstown Council with its inaugural Jack Mundey Environment
and Heritage Award.

 

“This is recognition of Peter’s long-term commitment to the completion of the Wolli
Creek Regional Park, established and grown as the result of community pressure, led by
the Society, over several decades.’ said Gina Svolos, the present President of the Society.

“The Park is now nearing completion and Peter has renewed his commitment by
organising to protect the Wolli Creek Valley bushland and the Regional Park from the
proposed location of an industrial plant within the Park boundaries. The proposal would
have negative effects on both the natural environment and a heritage-listed structure,
the two things cited in the Award, and for which Jack Mundey as an initiator of Green
Bans is rightly famous.”

“There is a better alternative nearby: a vacant, government-owned, non-bushland site,
outside the Park boundaries that we want Sydney Water to use.” Ms Svolos emphasised.
Mr Stevens reports that, working with the Nature Conservation Council of NSW, the
Society’s petition to the Minister for Water, Melinda Payne, passed 3,000 signatures on
February 10 and is still growing.

“That is a thousand signatures a week since its launch,” Mr Stevens said, “and over 100
of these are from interstate and many more from regional NSW and urban areas remote
from the Wolli Creek Valley. Which goes to show that while people may leave the Valley,
the Valley does not leave their memory or their concern.”

See here to sign the petition.

Contact: Gina Svolos President 0431 308 303
Media Contact: Peter Stevens 0412 596 874

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Patoneys A Different Way

Patoneys A Different Way, Capertee Valley, NSW, 19-20 Sept 2020 by Rachel Grindlay

Given how much of my time I spend looking at National Parks alerts and advising other people about closures it is somewhat ironic I failed to check all of the relevant closures information for a trip I had on the Spring Program. A couple of weeks before the trip was scheduled we drove past the access road I was planning on using. There were “STOP, CLOSED” signs – it looked like I might have a problem. At home I looked at the map to find that the road access and part of my walk were in Ben Bullen and Wolgan State Forests. Both had been closed since December so the chances of them reopening in the next two weeks were remote.

Somewhat despondent, my initial reaction was to cancel the walk. But then I felt guilty for the people who had signed up. Scouring the map I was surprised to see how many different directions Pantoneys Crown could be accessed from. Point Cameron was definitely out of the picture since Mt Jamison and McLeans Pass are in Wolgan State Forest. But a new route started to form before me, taking in some map features which had caught my attention in the past – Tarpeian Rock and Moffitts Pagodas.

The new route had the definite advantage that I didn’t need to worry about the condition of the road, and the associated issues with carpooling and Covid. The party composition changed a little with the change of route but eventually six of us convened at the start of the Moffitt Trail bright and early on Saturday morning.

A quick survey confirmed no one was a sadist with the desire to walk an extra 2km of fire trail at the start and end of the trip. We piled into two cars for a quick drive along Moffitt Trail to cut off some walking. Parking where we planned to pop out at the end left us 3km of fire trail before we left any semblance of a trail behind for the rest of the trip.

The ridge towards Tarpeian Rock was a maze of pagodas. We took some of our navigation from Beyonce (“To the left, to the left”), though at one point we were pushed quite a way right before we found a way up through the fortress of pagodas. Finding our way back to the western cliff line, a bit of exposed scrambling and a jump got us onto Tarpeian Rock for morning tea. It was a sunny, still day, warmer than most of us had expected. The next point north had an impressive rock outcrop at the end which gave plenty more photo opportunities before we hit a flat, open section of ridge to take us quickly towards Baal Bone Point.

Our lunch spot had impressive views of Pantoneys Crown and the Red Rocks – where two-thirds of the party had walked only two weeks earlier. We marvelled at the patchwork nature of the fire patterns – some sections in the valley looked like a blowtorch had been put to them, yet they were surrounded by areas where the canopy hadn’t burnt.

After lunch was where the real fun started – the scramble off Baal Bone Point – I feel like the same logs have been in place for many years to assist with the descent – luckily unburnt. There were plenty of orchids in flower to slow the botanists down, but we eventually got to the base of the South Pass onto Pantoneys.

Only one member of the party hadn’t been to Pantoneys previously, though it was the first time going up the South Pass for two in the group. We made short work of it with everyone scrambling up without issue – other than a couple of frights from a Blue-Tongue Lizard sitting in a wedge we wanted to use as a handhold! We hauled packs at the top of the lower section and then squeezed around to the left avoiding the final awkward chimney climbs.

After setting up camp most of us went looking for the fabled water source. I had some vague directions, and indications from looking at the aerials, and with the amount of rain there had been in the last few months I figured if we didn’t find water this trip it probably didn’t exist. Tom led us straight into a little canyon which had flowing water and a small pool! This was great news as I think the hot day had caught most of us a little short on the water front. After filling up we squeezed down the canyon to the cliff edge where we took in the views.

The colour palette of grey was used for sunset, but the views were still impressive. Our earlier rehab work on the fire ring had shrunk it to about a quarter of its original size, which still gave us a very cheery fire for the evening. The knowledge of a water source made us profligate with the water we had. Two party members carelessly tipped their boiling billies on the ground – fortunately only one billy also contained dinner. Right on 9pm the first spots of rain started which seemed like a good cue to head for bed.

The weather forecast was pretty accurate; we woke to a steady downpour which meant breakfast was a solitary affair as everyone huddled in their shelters. Fortunately at about 8am it eased off and we all leapt out and with amazing timing were ready to go right on 8:30am.

The views as we traversed Pantoneys were non-existent as we wandered along in the mist. Tom initially wouldn’t believe me when I said we were at the northern point! I said he was welcome to keep walking if he could find some ground to continue on – fortunately he decided I was probably right and didn’t walk off the edge of a cliff.

The top of the North Pass was located without difficulty. The collective memories of the 5 of us who’d been there before were found wanting. No one could really remember the middle scramble of the North Pass. To the extent that there was some accusations of us not being on the normal route! Everything was wet which upped the difficulty level and we used the tape on both the middle and lower scrambles. Our memories returned on the lower scramble – it was indeed the normal route.

The rest of the day we would be in the realm of exploratory adventuring. Following the cliffline of the western side of the Crown proved relatively straight-forward. The visibility was still low so we couldn’t see anything except the impressive cliff lines looming into the mist above us. By late morning we were back where we were early afternoon the day before – below the southern pass.

Opting against a second lap we descended to the saddle and then had to work out how best to negotiate the myriad spurs and creek lines which would lead us to Coco Creek. I opted for a ‘straight line’ approach rather than trying to contour. As usual 20m contours hide a wealth of lumps and bumps and we were surprised as the rock turned from sandstone to quartzite. It felt like we’d been transported to Kanangra rather than Gardens of Stone.

The minor creeks were steep enough that we had to work a bit to get across them, but Coco Creek was the biggest surprise. A rocky narrow quartzite spine led us down just above a roaring waterfall. Jon appeared to be a little disappointed we didn’t have to swim across the large pool at the bottom instead conveniently being able to rock hop across at the bottom of the spur. It’s not many Pantoneys walks which feature a waterfall!

From there we had a couple of steep climbs to get us onto to the Moffitts Pagoda ridge. It was an impressive ridge line, with equally impressive views. The weather cleared as we got near the top and so it was a slow meander along the ridge as every few hundred metres there was another view, different light on Pantoneys and we spent time savouring it all.

Once we got to Moffitts Pagodas some of the party climbed on top, while others walked out to the point to take in our final views of this amazing part of NSW. From there it was just a few hundred metres back to our cars. The drive out had a couple of nervous sections – where rain and traffic had caused some slush to form and we weren’t exactly in control as we slid down the hill back to the rest of the cars.

Everyone was very complimentary on my replacement route – I’d like to take the credit but while there’s some skill picking a route on the map, there’s also a lot of luck in how things pan out on the ground. Be assured it’s not every exploratory trip where everything goes pretty much perfectly! Always come armed with a sense of adventure (and a well charged torch).

Vale David Atkins

VALE DAVID ATKINS (8th June 1942 – 4th Jan 2021)

Many gathered to pay their respects to and celebrate a most remarkable person who made a sizeable contribution to our community, Wayne David Atkins, fondly known as Akky by many. David had a life-long keen interest in bushwalking and skiing and, more latterly, bicycling as well as caving and conservation in his earlier years. He  greatly enjoyed these and generously put considerable effort into serving the community to foster, share and protect these interests.

David joined the Launceston Walking Club (LWC) when 16 years old. I first met him about 50 years ago when encountering an LWC walk at Lake Promontory in poor weather. There he was helping cut wood for a fire to make his party more  comfortable; it was obvious he had come well prepared for the conditions. Later I  spent many years working closely with him on behalf ofTasmania’s peak bushwalking  body, and the national bushwalking body. I found David utterly dedicated to protecting bushwalking in Tasmania, and nationally. He was always reliable,  supportive and helpful. During that time I never heard him grumble about the work  involved, even if he did about some wanting to cull some aspect of customary bushwalking.

Apart from David’s greatly valued efforts for the Launceston Walking Club (LWC), who  awarded him Life Membership in 1980, there is his huge service to the wider  community stemming from his appointment as a Delegate of that Club to the  Federation of Tasmanian Bushwalking Clubs (FTBC), which has since transformed itself  into Bushwalking Tasmania (BWT), to represent all Tasmanian bushwalkers. As a well engaged and valued member of the two State bushwalking organisations, David was  soon appointed to key roles, and held important roles for many years; at least 21 years. At various times he was elected President or Secretary.  

David was very active representing both the LWC and the wider Tasmanian  bushwalking community through his actions and words. David had some particularly  useful attributes for such key positions. He was prepared to take on roles and duties  that others shied from. Whether a key role or not, David was always prepared to stand up to the unreasonable and stubborn who acted against Tasmanian walker  interests. David was persistent when merited. Sometimes David showed quite a sense of humour in adverse situations – usually dry, so not recognized by all. On the odd occasion he would deliberately show emotive anger to a Minister of the head of PWS. This sometimes put them on the back-foot.

David was unafraid to speak bluntly or write a blunt letter when he disagreed with something. There was a decisive late letter sent to the then Nomenclature Board  when Parks wanted to delist two used tracks, that would have the consequence of  barring anyone marking or maintaining the tracks. The Board thought it wise to have a recreation person on their body.  Delegates to Bushwalking Tasmania very much appreciated David’s dedication, work  and passion, and felt comfortable about his representingtheir views, even if not some  of his spelling.

When a national bushwalker body was to be formed, David attended the inaugural  meeting and joined the inaugural governing body. He served on that Bushwalking  Australia Council for 18 years, including as the national Secretary from 2016 to 2019,  leaving just over a year ago when Genevieve, his wife, took up a position in  Queensland. When national bushwalker conferences were to be held in Tasmania.  David took care of the local logistics, accommodation and eating arrangements for all attendees. He certainly made sure of good value without things being scrappy – well done David! He even went out of his way to do airport pickups, apparently most at his own expense. This is the kind of thing that is invaluable to volunteer organisations who have limited funds.  

David cared about how walkers and volunteers were treated. For instance, he put effort into arranging facilities and some nibbles for volunteers when re-establishing  the Cuvier Track. This included free shelter, showers and kitchen facilities. This kind of effort helps attract volunteers, and shows appreciation.  In recognition of his lengthy, broad and deep service, Bushwalking Tasmania has received emails of condolence from all over Australia, as well as diverse places and people in Tasmania. A rare honour! 

David’s love of the bush and his passion to ensure that bushwalkers retain rights of access to all areas of the bush is one of his many enduring legacies. During his service for Bushwalking Tasmania, at various times, a Minister of the day appointed him and  another BWT person to an additional body to deal with particular issues. A key group was the Track Assessment Group that eventually overturned a plan for an expensive booking system for all overnight walking in the Tasmanian 

Wilderness World Heritage Area. That would have seen a major decline in our ability to walk in the TWWHA due to unreasonably low walker quotas. The Track Assessment Group met for two days a month over three years, often with considerable pre-meeting material to read – it  required considerable effort and dedication.

Many remember David’s determination and fight to ensure bushwalkers would continue to have access to the Cape Pillar area. It was intended that we walkers would no longer be able to do overnight walks in the area unless doing an expensive hut to hut walk, although Tasmanian bushwalkers had put in thousands of man-days to make the first tracks and campsites to establish the great coastal bushwalking there.  

After petitioning and meeting the Minister about our concerns, we were appointed to the Three Capes Reference Group. David & I did several trips to the Cape Pillar/Three Capes area to plot all the campsites then ask we retain only three existing sites as formal sites to continue our customary use of the area. At his own initiative, David  saw the local council and promptly got them on side. After three years pushing to retain customary access and use, the goal was achieved.  

During our efforts to reach the goal, David & I spent two days hiding from helicopters  that were carrying building materials for the 3CT. That trip was to inspect and map all sites with evidence of camping. At the time, the whole 3CT area was actually closed  to walkers, but we needed the data to argue our position to retain the most suitable  campsites for Tasmanian walkers. Should we have been sprung, I suppose we could have said we were doing it for the Minister. 

In general, David spoke strongly on behalf of walkers whenever he saw unreasonable  encroachments on walkers’ customary use. For instance, we made many  representations and wrote several submissions to stop over-zealous constraints on walkers doing their well-established overnight walks that use part of Overland Track.  Some of the constraints had put walkers in danger. David also spoke publicly strongly  against the upmarket commercial development of Lake Malbena in the TWWHA.  David saw the rationale for these as commercialism displacing customary use for the  benefit of the wealthier. Something many more now recognize as happening more  generally. David was so strongly opposed to the Overland Track constraints, he  attended many a meeting in Hobart and elsewhere to help loosen the constraints.

David helped write countless other submissions on behalf of Tasmanian bushwalkers  over many years with BWT & FTBC. It can take considerable effort to write  submissions that have to research then articulate and justify the walker position when plans are based on opposing values. 

David was so committed to seeing walkers maintain their ability to communicate their issues, that for the first half of 2020, he voluntarily filled in as Secretary for BWT while in Queensland. Thus, David is one of the very few to receive a certificate of award from Bushwalking  Tasmania to recognize his outstanding service to bushwalking. The award is so well deserved. He held BWT together at one time when all other delegates would have BWT serve them; quite a responsibility for him.  

I also met David at Ben Lomond associated with skiing and skiing races. There he belonged to a neat lodge, Ben Bullen along the Carr Villa Track to Legges Tor. At Ben Lomond David often appeared early in the day to help set up and run skiing races for a number of years where I was able to help him carry the considerable equipment using an oversnow vehicle.  

These few examples of what David willingly did, demonstrate the community-minded effort David was prepared to make on behalf of all Tasmanians, many of whom remain unaware of the efforts that are required to maintain our way of life.  

Of course David & I did a few walks. These mainly in his later years where we often had to talk about and resolve walking issues. In his positions with Bushwalking  Tasmania, he was a gracious host in order to facilitate meetings and discussions. I was privileged to stay at his and Genevieve’s home and beach house many times to facilitate bushwalking business. David was also prepared to drive from one end of the State to another to get bushwalking business done. On many occasions he drove to the south or far south to meet Ministers, the head of PWS, other PWS staff or myself.  One time he drove all the way to Strathgordon just to have a brief meeting with an HEC officer to pursue access over the Gordon Dam. It was such selfless effort! 

David will be remembered and appreciated by the LWC, BWT, BAI and others for the  dedicated passionate person he was and for his enormous contribution towards making LWC & BWT what they are today. He will be honoured and remembered at  the Tasmanian Arboretum, as his name W. David Atkins will be added to the LWC Deceased Life Members tree. 

David’s main recreational legacy additional to the achievements mentioned, is that more Government Authorities now realise that Tasmanian walkers are keen to have their customary recreation and traditional uses protected. Most Authorities have, and are taking more action to aid this. There is also the legacy of the conservation movement in Tasmanian that David helped initiate, stemming from the flooding of Lake Peddar. Many individuals benefitted by learning about how to handle themselves well in the bush or on snow via Scouting, club and family events that David coordinated or was heavily involved in. … 

It was such an unexpected loss of so remarkable a person. David will be hard to replace, and much missed. We are privileged to have known him. His was a life well lived. I for one will miss David greatly – and wish that he may enjoy great walking throughout eternity.  

On behalf of Bushwalking Tasmania, Bushwalking Australia, Bushwalking Queensland,  Bushwalking NSW Inc., Walking SA, Hobart Walking Club, Circular  Head Walking Club, Launceston Ramblers Club, HikeWest (formerly Bushwalking  Western Australia), Bushwalking Victoria and personally I extend my deepest  sympathy and best wishes to Genevieve, David’s children, grandchildren, siblings and other relatives, and all of his friends. 

Dr Andrew Davey

President, Bushwalking Tasmania 

Council Member, Bushwalking Australia

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Clarence Valley Bushwalking Club – Bunya Mountains Trip

Bunya Mountains Trip, Bunya Mountains and Girraween National Parks, Clarence Valley Bushwalking Club

Ray Bulmer originally conceived the idea of the annual trip to Bunya Mountains and Girraween National Parks for our bushwalking holiday. He put in a huge amount of preparation and drew up a great itinerary with a good mix of walking and sightseeing with some wonderful places to stay. Unfortunately he was not able to come on the trip due to ill health and we missed him greatly.

The group consisted of Michael, Christine, Steve, Moira, Joan, Jan, Stephanie, Kent, Narelle, Stuart. We set off on Saturday September 7th. As we left our area in Gulmarrad we remarked on how much the Shark Creek fire had grown in the last day and then we drove off towards Grafton, never guessing the fire would grow so big in the next few days whilst we were away.  Fires were starting up all over the valley and throughout NSW and this was to be a constant theme throughout the holiday. We packed our car up in 35 deg heat, with the sky turning orange and filling with smoke.

We consulted the night before on the best route to avoid fires and some of us kept to Ray’s original route via Glen Innes. We stopped off for the obligatory coffee break at McDonald’s in Glen Innes and a second breakfast. Others travelled via Kyogle. We passed through Stanthorpe and Tenterfield, witnessing the burnt areas from their bushfires only the day before. They had burnt both sides of the road in some places up to people’s garden fences so it was a sobering reminder of our vulnerability. We were all able to meet up at Warwick for a late lunch. Then we pressed on to our first overnight destination, Jondaryan Woolshed. We were saddened to see how dry the countryside was along the way. We set up camp in their campground and hunkered down for our first dinner in an increasing wind.

The next day we explored the extensive historic site at Jondaryan and there was certainly a lot to see. But first we had to have a hearty breakfast at their café. This was bushwalking in style. Then we visited the many historic buildings, the largest being their magnificent Woolshed itself. Many of the historic buildings had museum displays inside them. The school was one of the most interest.

The next day we set off for the short distance to Maidenwell which we were going to use as a base for our first set of walks in the Bunya Mountains National Park. The camping areas in the National Park were not accessible for some of the group so we had opted for the comforts of Maidenwell Pub.

We arrived at the camping grounds in the Showground at the rear of the pub and set up. The wind had increased even more and Michael had to secure the tent to the car with 3 ropes to ensure it did not blow away. Most of the group went for a preliminary walk to Coomba Falls which was a steep and interesting walk but little water. Later on we availed ourselves of a welcome dinner at the pub and a game of pool, hoping the wind would abate, but it did not. That night we fell asleep listening to the wind gusts.

The next day we set off on the 25k trip to Bunya Mountains National Park and were amply rewarded by the display of wildlife as we had morning coffees at the cafe. The wallabies and birds were very tame, no doubt owing to the proximity of the café. Bushwalking in style yet again. But the coffees at the end of the second day’s walking were very welcome.

We set off, stopping first for a view from the high point of Mt Mowbullan which had an extensive panorama but a lot of smoke haze.

We set off on our first walk along the Scenic Circuit and walked through beautiful rainforest areas with abundant bunya and hoop pines. It was a welcome change from the dry landscape we had travelled through to arrive there. There were many other sights to see such as extensive strangler figs, stinging trees (look but don’t touch!), bird’s nest ferns and staghorns.  Unfortunately the many waterfalls were nearly all dry. Two of the group elected to return to the starting point by a shorter route where we saw a red bellied black snake and many different species of beautiful trees whilst most of the group carried on to Big Falls and Barker Creek Lookouts. …….

It had been arranged that a car pick up would take place at Paradise Park but through mis-communication this did not happen so some members got a longer walk than they bargained for.  This emphasised the need for clear communication on walks. But we all reconvened at the end for some much needed bunya nut ice-cream in the café.

That night we indulged in another meal at the Maidenwell Pub.

The next day we set off to the National Park again and walked the Westcliff Lookout walk. The northern walks were partly escarpment walks and we had some good views from the lookout and along the way, although they were not at their best because of the smoke from the extensive bushfires. We stopped temporarily at Westcott and then all but one continued on along the Koodaii Circuit loop walk.

Our final walk of the day was to the highest point of the National Park, the Mt Kiangarow track to the summit and back. It was a short but lovely walk through the scrubby bush with smatterings of rainforest. We admired the extensive arch of grass trees and wildflowers with an extensive view of the valley below at the end.

After coffee once again we returned to camp and decided to tough it out and actually cook for ourselves like real bushwalkers should. We fortified ourselves with Happy Hour first though. Up until that point Happy Hour had not been that happy or extensive, downright non-existent owing to the strong, cold winds. The winds had dropped a little and a welcome use was made of the awning of Stuart’s caravan for a few drinks and nibbles. We had a discussion in which we confirmed that unfortunately Girraween National Park, our next walking destination was closed due to the threat of bushfires. Some fires were still active in the area and some were growing, including the large one near Drake and the Bruxner Highway on the way home.

All this while Michael and Christine had been monitoring the ever increasing Shark Creek fire near our home via the RFS website and wondering if there would be anything left of Yurygir National Park at home for future walks. What had started out as a tiny fire weeks ago had grown to threaten Woolaweyah, Angourie and Yamba.

The next day we changed our plans and spent the day in Toowoomba sightseeing. We enjoyed the wonderful flower displays at the Queens Park Botanic Gardens, where we were lucky enough to see their preparations for the Flower Festival in a few weeks’ time, followed by lunch at the Cobb & Co Museum and a look at the extensive displays there.

After that we headed south to our planned camp at Sommerville Tourist Park. This had been planned as our base for walking in Girraween National Park as that has been closed for a while due to water shortages in the park. It was now also closed due to bushfire risk so we stayed for only one night there and enjoyed their lovely facilities but once again braving cold weather of about zero degrees. We set off home the next day by mutual agreement, cutting the trip short. Some took advantage of the shortened trip to go their separate ways and do other activities but walking trails in National Parks seemed to be in short supply.

We travelled south again and most stopped at our planned lunch break at the Standing Stones Cottage where Ray had thoughtfully booked a surprise birthday tea for one of the group. We procured two cakes and a candle as there were two birthdays to celebrate. We then headed down the range to arrive home.

Our Club of the Month for January 2021 is Clarence Valley Bushwalking Club

Clarence Valley Bushwalkers Inc. was founded in 1997 by a small Group of interested bushwalkers. Since then membership has grown to approximately 90 members.

Walks are held in a range of beautiful areas including New England National Park (including Cathedral Rocks, Woolpack Rocks, Point Lookout), Washpool National Park and Gibraltar Range National Park (including Anvil Rock and Dandahra Crags). The Club also canoes and kayaks local rivers and holds relaxing bicycle rides around Clarence Valley.

There are up to 5 scheduled club activities per month. These can include bushwalking of varying levels of difficulty, terrain and duration; kayaking/canoeing trips and overnight car-camps; full-pack weekend walks, social outings, and bicycle rides. The Group also undertakes interstate and overseas adventures. Activities that are dependent on suitable weather or tidal conditions can also be added to the program at short notice to take advantage of favourable conditions.

 

Currockbilly Mountain – Logbook 50th anniversary celebration

By Phil Meade, Sutherland Bushwalking Club

Fifty years ago, on 14 November 1970, nine members of Sydney Bush Ramblers (renamed Sutherland Bushwalking Club in 1977) placed a visitors’ logbook on the top of the 1132m Currockbilly Mountain, in the south west Budawang Ranges (east of Braidwood).  The logbook, still remarkably intact in its metal container, had been rediscovered earlier in 2020 after the devastating bushfires, by David Poland from the Canberra Bushwalking Club.

David, having seen the name Sydney Bush Ramblers in the first logbook entry, contacted Shaune Walsh, our president and invited the club to join a small COVID-safe group to celebrate this 50-year anniversary.  The plan was for four from SBC (Shaune, Ken Newman, Tony Larkin and Phil Meade) to meet on Saturday morning 14 November 2020 with a group from the Canberra Bushwalking Club for addresses later that day by David and Shaune to commemorate the anniversary at the top of Currockbilly Mountain.

David Poland also circulated to Shaune, the notes sent to Canberra Bushwalking Club members, providing details of the proposed walk. These notes included the following:

What to expect.

This is an “R” or ROUGH walk. Whilst not long in distance (8 km return) please don’t be fooled. This walk does involve a 400 m elevation climb and descent. In parts it is very steep. Most of it is off track, ie there is no path or animal track to follow at all. It takes me 2.5 hrs to walk the 4 km up and another 2 hrs to walk down plus an hour to explore on the summit. So, for some people this will be a long day. Whilst the scrub is light, as most of it was burnt in the 2019/2020 fires, there is a lot of loose rock underfoot. You will need to be sure footed. You will need to expect to get sooty and black from the burnt sharp sticks and legs so wear old tough clothes. There is no water.”

After an overnight stay in Braidwood, with the above in mind we set off from the cars past Mongarlowe at 9.00am, with a short rest mid-way, reaching a point very close to the top in 2.5 hours after the 400m ascent.  We then diverged a short distance south to an overgrown stone mound trig. Here David carefully opened a small metal container left at the trig, inside of which were details of people having visited there dating from the 1960s including the famous Colin Watson OAM.  The records were very fragile and a decision was made that David should deliver the container, including contents, to the National Museum in Canberra. Something suitable will be put there in its place.

At midday David made a short address providing some background to the walk.  An invited botanist also explained some of the key features of the area, including a nearby temperate forest, which he said was unique to the area.

Shaune’s address followed and included:

  • SBC’s history – originally “Sydney Bush Ramblers” but following confusion with the name, it was changed to Sutherland Bushwalking Club;
  • 1970 was the Bicentennial year (of Captain Cook’s voyage along the east coast of now Australia) and the year we became a formal club. Don Rice our founding club president organised the commemorative placement of containers and visitor log books on Pigeon House, Talaterang and Currockbilly;
  • The containers were made in the workshop at the Atomic Energy Commission – unofficially of course! – club members included employees of AEC (now ANSTO) at Lucas Heights
  • On 14th November 1970 they made a 2-day hike and they arrived at the trig first (this was also the point visited by us and referred to above), then placed the metal container and logbook in a clearing nearby and stayed for an hour.
  • Our club did multi-day hikes through this spot again in 1973, 1991 and 1993 and the names of a few current members are in the logbook.

Shaune, in closing, thanked David Poland and his club for organising the celebration.

After the ceremonies, we looked through the logbook and noted the following names (in the order in the log), from 14 November 1970: J Stevens “I carried the cement!!!”, L Watters, R Stewart, Don Rice, Don Mercer, Ewan M Lawson, Neil W Barclay, Laurie Braithwaite and Ross McKenney. The logbook entry records their intended route: “Sawmill – Currockbilly – The Sugarloaf – Yadboro Creek -Wog Wog – Cockpit Swamp”.

Some 300m north of the area, where the logbook has been placed, there’s a lookout.  It’s well worth visiting as it provides spectacular views to the north and east, including views to Bibbenluke Mountain, Mt Owen, The Castle and Pigeon House.

We left Currockbilly Mountain retracing our route taken earlier that day (yes – it was rough and steep) to where Shaune had left his car; we returned to Sydney that night.

I very much appreciate and I know I also echo the sentiments of Ken and Tony, the time and effort Shaune put into organising the club’s participation in the day and we appreciate the opportunity to take part in this historic event.

Currockbilly Mountain Visitors Logbook 1970

Shaune 50th anniversary logbook celebration talk

Currockbilly Trig logbook from 1964 with David Poland

Tony, Ken, Shaune, Phil – SBC and David Poland – CBC with 1970 Currockbilly Logbook

 

 

Help Reclaim Kosci this summer

Got walking shoes and a camera? You can help Reclaim Kosci this summer.

The Reclaim Kosci campaign would like bushwalkers to help record sightings of feral horses, pigs and deer in Kosciuszko and nearby areas – especially areas which have been previously considered horse-free or low density. These areas include the Main Range from Mt Kosciuszko north to Mt Selwyn, parts of the lower Snowy, Bimberi Nature Reserve, and parts of Namadgi.

Reclaim Kosci want to see if the horses’ range is expanding and need photos of animals, dung, or other evidence such as crystal-clear hoofprints or pig-rooted soil, with locations and dates, taken this summer or in the past.

Please email photos to Linda Groom or, even better, join the iNaturalist project and upload them through the citizen science app iNaturalist.  More information on how to contribute, plus downloadable maps, can be found here.

Some parts of Kosciuszko and Namadgi are closed for fire recovery. Please check the NPWS and ACT Parks web sites for up-to-date information.

Questions? Visit our website for full details or email project co-ordinator Linda Groom at lindagroom@invasives.org.au

Photo Competition Winners Announced!

Thank you to everyone who entered the Bushwalking NSW 2020 Photo Competition. Thank you also to Paddy Pallin for providing fantastic prizes.

Your shots were so good it was tough for us to judge! Congratulations to the following winners –

Robert Croll for Sunset from Mount Townsend.

Cristina Stange for Drip Gorge Lookout.

Maria Pace for Kamay National Park.