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‘Acknowledgement of Country’ by Bushwalking Clubs

‘Acknowledgement of country’ by bushwalking clubs

Bushwalking NSW have recently been asked an interesting question from one of our affiliated clubs: “_Just wondering if any of the bushwalking clubs are doing `acknowledgement of country’ on their walks. We would like to include this in our programmed walks and would be interested to hear if other clubs are carrying this out._” So … are any clubs acknowledging Country before they step into that country?

You will notice that at the top of the BNSW newsletter we now have a statement of acknowledgement: “_Bushwalking NSW acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia, and acknowledges and respects their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their Elders past, present and emerging, and acknowledge their custodianship of the Country in which we engage our bushwalking and related activities”._

Since all bushwalking clubs rely on Country as a core resource for our outdoor activities, it would seem appropriate for clubs to include a similar statement on their websites. It is now customary to acknowledge Country at the start of meetings and the same could also be done at the start of walks and other activities.

Clubs may wish to acknowledge the local indigenous people of their specific region or area. You can find an authorised map of language groups here. Note that some areas may come under the influence of two or more language groups. Also please be aware of the stated restrictions on reproducing the map.

You may wish to adapt BNSW’s words for your own use:

<_Your Bushwalking Club name> acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of <Your Indigenous Nation> Country, and acknowledges and respects their connections to land, sea _[optional; not relevant if you are inland club_] and community. We pay our respect to their Elders past, present and emerging, and acknowledge their custodianship of the Country in which we engage our bushwalking and related activities.

Thank you for considering this important issue.

Bill Boyd, President, Bushwalking NSW

WERE YOU THERE at SPLENDOUR ROCK

You or your club may be able to help in a fabulous project.  Michael Keats and Keith Maxwell are researching Dawn Services at Splendour Rock on ANZAC Day.  There are few details for many years as to whether a Dawn Service occurred at all.  We are calling on clubs to fill in the gaps, if possible.

A book is well advanced that will contain a wealth of information about Splendour Rock but we would like to confirm details for the years below.  You could help make this publication an even better book.

Splendour Rock was dedicated on ANZAC Day in 1948.  Contributions from various club magazines and individual club members have resulted in some truly great recollections which will be included in the text. There are significant gaps in the record, such as an incomplete set of logbooks in the State Library of NSW, and anyone who can help fill these years would be most welcome to send us their stories or recollections or field notes. Years for which we seek stories are –

1949 1953 1957 1970 1977 1981 1987 2020
1950 1954 1963 1974 1978 1982 1990  
1951 1955 1964 1975 1979 1984 1991  
1952 1956 1968 1969 1980 1985 1992  

 

Please contribute your records or memories to Michael Keats at mjmkeats@easy.com.au

Keith Maxwell.

The Bush Club – Marie Byles Commemorative Walks

 Marie Byles Commemorative Walks , The Bush Club, Walks Report by Astrid van Blerk & Kevin Yeats, Images by Astrid van Blerk and Ian Evans

The Bush Club is one of the major walking clubs in Sydney, which offers its currently over 850 members a huge variety of activities such as day and pack walks, cycles, and multi-day trips to explore areas further away. It is often referred to as “the friendly club” – its culture is supportive and inclusive, walks range from relatively easy to challenging and adventurous so everyone can find something that suits them individually, and there is a special focus on encouraging new leaders which allows interested members to try out new skills and share their favourite walks with others. Whenever you meet a Bush Club group on the track you will notice that the atmosphere is happy, open and relaxed – we sure have mastered the art of having fun outdoors! Another telltale sign that the club is healthy and thriving is how much resilience and optimism it showed in these challenging times of the pandemic. For example, during the 2019/20 financial year despite the Covid shutdown which prevented group walking for several weeks, the club managed to complete an astonishing 446 activities – predominantly weekday day walks with an average number of 9.5 paricipants each. What a wonderful way to keep moving and breathing fresh air, and to maintain one’s sanity and social contacts at the same time…!

One of the many interesting collaborative projects that the club offered to its members recently was created to commemorate its co-founder Marie Byles, who together with Paddy Pallin brought the club into existence in 1939.
Marie Byles (1900 – 1979) was the first woman to practice law in NSW, a mountaineer, explorer and avid bushwalker, a committed conservationist, feminist, author and an original member of the Buddhist Society in NSW. As a teenager at her parent’s holiday retreat at Palm Beach, she would look through her telescope across Broken Bay to the bushland on the Central Coast. She would later campaign successfully to place the former coal reserve on the Bouddi Peninsula under public ownership and in 1935 Bouddi Natural (later National) Park was formed, with Marie being elected a trustee of the board that managed the park. By 1938, she had built the house she called ‘Ahimsa’ (nonviolence), on her 3½ acre bushland property at Cheltenham, which she later bequeathed to the National Trust.

To honour Marie Byles’ achievements and contributions to the club, a series of 7 walks, ‘From Buddha to Bouddi’, were held, starting on Marie’s birthday (8th April), from ‘Ahimsa’, Cheltenham and finishing at Marie Byles Lookout in Bouddi. The walks passed through 5 National Parks, numerous council parks and reserves, as well as beaches and important wetlands, and all were suitable for public transport. Walks ranged from an ‘octogenarian friendly’ grade 2 to a more demanding grade 4, as follows:

1. Cheltenham to Lindfield via ‘Ahimsa’, GNW along Lane Cove River to Fullers Bridge, Little Blue Gum Creek, Primula Oval, Paddy Pallin Reserve, Lindfield (19km grade 3).
2. Lindfield to Seaforth Oval via Seven Little Australians Park, Two Creeks Track, Flat Rock Beach, Magazine Track, Natural Bridge, The Bluff and Bantry Bay (21km grade 4 – actual walk reversed for transport convenience).
3. Seaforth Oval to Manly via Manly Dam Reserve, Burnt Bridge Creek, Clontarf Beach, Harbour Walk to Manly (19km grade 3).
4. Manly to Collaroy via Queenscliff with side trip to the wormhole, Freshwater, Curl Curl, Dee Why, Long Reef (11km grade 2)
5. Collaroy to Avalon via Warriewood, Mona Vale, Newport, Crown of Newport Reserve, Bilgola and Avalon Beaches (17km grade 3).
6. Avalon to Palm Beach via Angophora Reserve, Clareville Beach, Bangalley, Whale Beach, Palm Beach and Barrenjoey Head (20km grade 3).
7. Palm Beach to Wagstaffe by ferry, then circuit walk in Bouddi NP visiting Hardy Bay, Allen Strom Lookout, Rocky Point trail, Mt Bouddi, Maitland Bay, Marie Byles Lookout and Pretty Beach (19km grade 3).

This walks series was a great success overall, and there are already calls to repeat the whole lot again next year. A special thanks goes to our wonderful thoughtful and innovative leaders who each led a section, in order: Jenny Donoghoe, Fiona Sonntag, John Hungerford, Bob Taffel, Astrid van Blerk, Joy Bell and Carole Beales-Evans. Also, to quote Carole, thanks to the amazing walkers who made it so special!

To find out more about the Bush Club, please see here. Membership is open to those over 18. To be part of The Bush Club, sign up as a prospective member. Our leaders will help you select activities which will suit you and your fitness. After completing three membership qualifying walks, you can apply to become a full member. We are always looking forward to welcome new members – see you on the track!

REMEMBRANCE at Splendour Rock 2021

At 6am on 25 April (ANZAC Day 2021) there will be a short ceremony of remembrance at Splendour Rock to recognise the thirteen fallen bushwalkers from WWII.  This will return the pattern of remembrance from at least 1992.  Every year since then (and perhaps even 1990 but there is insufficient evidence) on ANZAC Day there has been a Dawn Service of remembrance at Splendour Rock.  Naturally, due to the pandemic, there was no dawn service in 2020.

Bushwalkers who have previously been to Splendour Rock for ANZAC Day will know that Mt Dingo is a dry campsite that can be subject to high winds.  However, when the weather is right overnight camping on Mt Dingo can be an unforgettable experience.  Splendour Rock is in the Wild Dog Mountains whose nearest access is the Dunphy Carpark at the end of the Megalong Valley Road from Blackheath.

It is now an NP&WS requirement that you must REGISTER your intention to camp overnight in a National Park of NSW.  Please be COVID safe in your camping.  More information can be found here – camping 

The memorial plaque at Splendour Rock was installed in February 1948 by a combined group of Sydney Bush Walkers (SBW) and Coast & Mountain Walkers (CMW).  The plaque was dedicated on the following ANZAC Day.  Both clubs each lost four (4) members while the YMCA Ramblers Bushwalking Club lost two (2) members.  Three other bushwalking clubs each lost one member being the Campfire Club, Rucksack Club plus the Trampers Club.  Background details for all of these fallen service personnel can be found on the Bushwalking NSW (BNSW) website – here.

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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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

 

 

Places of Pride – Australian Register of war memorials

Splendour Rock Memorial 1948

Splendour Rock is a special place that remembers bushwalkers from Clubs of Bushwalking NSW (BNSW) killed during WWII with that wonderful phase “THEIR SPLENDOUR SHALL NEVER FADE” and it seems that it is getting better known outside Australia.  Bushwalkers / walkers who go to Splendour Rock, in the Wild Dog Mountains of the Blue Mountains, are rewarded with an amazing wide vista of the southern Blue Mountains from Kings Tableland in the east to the Blue Breaks and Lake Burragorang (southwards) then finally to Kanangra Walls in the west.  Splendour Rock was chosen for its location but also as a bushwalkers war memorial so it does require a bushwalk to access it.

In 2014, on behalf of BNSW, I had Splendour Rock placed on the register of NSW war memorials maintained by the State Library of NSW.

From an incomplete series of visitor logbooks in the State Library of NSW we can see that Splendour Rock has always attracted bushwalkers, Scouts and others.  It is just not groups from NSW but groups from within and outside Australia (not just Europe).

Similarly, “Places of Pride” is a virtual register of war memorials from all over Australia maintained by the Australian War Memorial (AWM in Canberra) as it aims to keep the memory alive of all Australians who died in past conflicts.

Recently, again on behalf of BNSW, I added Splendour Rock to this virtual list, of Australian war memorials, maintained by the AWM.

See https://placesofpride.awm.gov.au/memorials/263171

Entries on Places of Pride are more concise than the State Library of NSW register so a link was added back to the BNSW website for more information on the thirteen (13) fallen bushwalkers remembered and so consequentially to the State Library of NSW register of war memorials.

Splendour Rock is obviously a little different and probably unique in Australia and NZ.  In the Places of Pride text box for information on Splendour Rock I had to stress that access was only possible via a bushwalk.  The registration process with Places of Pride required a location given as a decimal latitude and longitude.  Since, the interactive map could not find a recognised road it suggested that access was possible via a dirt road.

Splendour Rock is now remembered as both an Australian “Place of Pride” as well as a NSW war memorial.

Keith Maxwell.

Honorary Historian BNSW

Rae Else-Mitchell: Blue Gum Forest Protector

A piece of our history by Colin Wood, Armidale Bushwalking Club

Rae Else-Mitchell CMG QC (20 September 1914 – 29 June 2006) was an Australian jurist, royal commissioner, historian and legal scholar.

Rae Else-Mitchell at Byrnes Gap, 1932

Rae Else-Mitchell was an active member and office bearer in a number of community organisations concerning history, arts, libraries, medicine, education, financial and public administration and town planning. Rae’s obituary in The (London) Times described him as being “among Australia’s cleverest postwar judges and administrators, accomplishing two distinguished careers of almost equal length.”

However Rae Else-Mitchell was also a man well known by the bushwalking fraternity.

Else-Mitchell lived in Springwood and loved the magnificent Blue Gums across the street from his home. He was shocked when one day in the early 1950s he found the land owner showing logging contractors around the property.

Else-Mitchell was determined to save the trees and so he donated enough money to Council to purchase the blocks of the land for a public park. A neighbouring landowner, Mr Miller, donated part of his property and Else- Mitchell Park was created.

Development of the Springwood industrial estate in the 1970s resulted in the loss of a large area of Blue Gum Forest on part of 40 hectare granted to explorer William Lawson in 1834. In 1978, when a townhouse development was planned for the last 13 hectares of this patch, concerned members of the community pointed out that the site had considerable ecological and historical significance and extraordinary natural beauty. Council eventually purchased the land to preserve the forest and this became Deanei Reserve.

Rae Else-Mitchell also wrote many stories about the Australian bush which can be seen here.

 

Guest Post by Colin Wood, Armidale Bushwalking Club and Greenaissance Concepts

Chardon Award 2020

The Chardon Award was established in 2017 to recognise bushwalkers who have made a significant contribution to bushwalking or Bushwalking NSW (BNSW).  They had to be more than well known in their own club.

Harold Chardon was the bushwalker in 1932 who called the bushwalking clubs together to form the (now) BNSW as part of the campaign to save Blue Gum Forest.

The pattern each year has been to recognise a past bushwalker plus a very much alive bushwalker.  Hence, two bushwalkers were recognised with the 2020 Chardon Award at the Bushwalking NSW (BNSW) AGM on 18 August.  See the notes below for comments on these worthy recipients; Brian Walker and Belinda Keir.

BRIAN WALKER

Snippet from the Bushwalker – Vol. 32 #2 Autumn 2006

The above drab comment that Brian Walker was at least Secretary (1991) and President (1996) of Confederation does not give credit to the energy he brought to Bushwalking NSW (BNSW).  As Public Officer the NSW Federation of Bushwalking Clubs became “Confederation” inc (incorporated, with the legal role of obligations and safeguards that brings).

In 1993 Brian excited Sydney newspapers from his sighting of a missing light plane across a valley in Kanangra Boyd National Park.  “An Eventful Weekend“ (of this find) was the lead story of the November 1993 (Vol. 19 # 2) Bushwalker newsletter.

My last memory of him is on the exit of the Harbour Bridge when he went by on a recliner bicycle in a ‘Sydney Cycle’ event.  A cheery hello as always.  He was a friend to many in Confederation and his sudden passing left many walking friends in shock.  Shortly afterwards CMW held a wake in his honour at a member’s holiday cabins in Blackheath.

Brian Walker is a worthy recipient for the 2020 Chardon Award to honour his memory.

BELINDA KEIR

Belinda Keir has made a serious contribution to safety of bushwalkers from years of volunteer instruction in St John Ambulance First Aid to members of Bush Search and Rescue NSW (BSAR), bushwalking clubs, Scouts and the general public.

From 2003 onwards she has also served as a First Aid Officer at BSAR NavShield.  As such, she was an important part of the safety team that included NSW Ambulance Paramedics.

Belinda is a past active member of Sutherland Bushwalking Club and was an enthusiastic S&R volunteer during 1980s.  Hence, she responded to many S&R Callouts.  At that time Sutherland BWC was a strong supporter of S&R and would often supply a team of strong walkers whenever NSW Police had asked for assistance.  Through this volunteer service Belinda also become a good friend.

 

 

Belinda is pictured at centre with members of Sutherland Bushwalkers at a first aid training course she delivered  in 2005

 

 

Since well before 2000 Belinda was instructing in First Aid both at Senior / Provide First Aid plus Remote Area First Aid (RAFA) and is still instructing in First Aid.  The First Aid link on the BNSW website is for courses taught by Belinda on behalf of St John Ambulance.

The practical teaching methods of Belinda have helped to raise the level of First Aid knowledge within bushwalking clubs.  Hence, Bushwalking is now a safer activity from this training and her role as NavShield First Aid Officer.  Belinda Keir is a worthy recipient of the 2020 Chardon Award.

Keith Maxwell.

Learn more about the Chardon Award

Bushwalkers were there to (in WW2)

75 years ago there was genuine relief on two special days in 1945. On May 8 it was all over in Europe, VE day.   “Victory in Europe” – Hitler was dead and Australians serving there could come home.  Then, 15 August marked VP or VJ Day – “Victory in the Pacific” (or over Japan).  Thus, Australians serving in this theatre of war could also come home but the fate of some bushwalkers on active service was unknown as they were POWs (Prisoners of War).

World War 2 (WWII) was a different war for Australia compared to WWI.  The enemy was at our doorstep in New Guinea and nearby islands with multiple bombing raids on Darwin and other towns of the top end.  New Guinea was more than the Kokoda Track as the Japanese proved difficult to dislodge from many outposts.

At least 172 bushwalkers, men and women enlisted to meet this threat.  Our small nation of 7 million eventually had over 950,000 citizens in uniform.  Bushwalkers were spread through all three services of army, navy and air force.  Sadly, some bushwalkers were lost or became POWs in the ill-fated defence of Singapore with its surrender on 15 February 1942.

All POWs were not accounted for until well towards Christmas 1945 when finally, the bushwalking clubs could do a final count of their losses.  Thirteen (13) bushwalkers would never return to join their families and bushwalking friends.  The thirteen were remembered with short biographies in the 1946 Bushwalker annual magazine but what about a permanent memorial to honour their memory?

While we now know that these bushwalkers are remembered at Splendour Rock this initially was not an obvious choice.  A memorial park was even considered on Narrow Neck.

When Splendour Rock was dedicated on ANZAC Day 1948 access to this site was much more difficult than today.  However, the bushwalking clubs had chosen well.  Splendour Rock is unique.  There is nothing quite like it elsewhere in Australia or NZ to honour fallen bushwalkers (trampers).

So, 2020 is an appropriate time to update existing information on these fallen bushwalkers.  In 1945, the NSW Federation of Bushwalking Clubs (now Bushwalking NSW) was far smaller than today so their loss was keenly felt.  Some special bushwalkers never came back.

Take a moment to view this revised file here of these FALLEN BUSHWALKERS then reflect – “LEST WE FORGET”