main

Archive | Uncategorized

Splendour Rock – hidden in plain sight

ANZAC Day is not far off.  Many bushwalkers will be heading to Splendour Rock in the Wild Dog Mountains of the Megalong Valley.  They will be there to honour thirteen (13) bushwalkers remembered by a simple but moving Dawn Service at this memorial plaque.  There has been an annual Dawn Service since at least from 1992 and perhaps even 1990 (records are incomplete).  Prior to that time Dawn Services were infrequent but usually at significant anniversaries such as 10, 25 and 50 years since its dedication in 1948 by the NSW Federation of Bushwalking Clubs (now Bushwalking NSW)..

The Bushwalking NSW website has a file that describes the fallen we remember at Splendour Rock prepared by Michael Keats OAM, Belinda Keir and Keith Maxwell.  See – https://www.bushwalkingnsw.org.au/history/

There is something special about Splendour Rock that has been hidden plain sight.  Its not just the location which is very special with its stunning view of the southern Blue Mountains.  It tells the story of a changing Australia in World War II.

In WWI Australia sent a new army, the AIF (Australian Imperial Force) to the other side of the world for an amphibious landing on ANZAC Day 1915 at Gallipoli.

Australia industrialised as war came very close in WWII and the casualties tell an interesting story.  Among the bushwalkers remembered a minority were in the AIF but all four (4) died in the fall of Singapore in 1942 or later as POW of the Japanese.

Bruce Elder (pictured) of Coast & Mountain Walkers died on HMAS Sydney when it was lost off the Western Australian coast in November 1941.

James McCormack of YMCA Ramblers although in RAAF died on HMAS Canberra when it was lost in the Battle of Savo Island in the Pacific Ocean.  Again, not Europe.

Norman Saill of Sydney Bush Walkers and RAAF died in the New Guinea campaign.  The remaining six (6) bushwalkers (of the 13) were all in RAAF and died while based in the UK.

So, hiding in plain sight was the fact that at Splendour Rock more airmen (8) are remembered than soldiers (4) who were more likely to have died close to Australia and not in some foreign (European) field.

Splendour Rock Memorial 1948

Elder Bruce photo

Keith Maxwell.

Walking in Declared Wilderness Areas – Is There a Party Limit?

Walking in Declared Wilderness Areas – Is There a Party Limit?

Yes, there is. Its 8.

Many members will be aware that in NSW there are places declared as Wilderness Areas under the Wilderness Act 1987. Wilderness areas are large, natural and mostly intact areas of land that form part of our national park system. When an area is declared wilderness, it is protected under the Act and must be managed to protect its wilderness values with a minimum of human interference. Many wilderness areas are remote and inaccessible to vehicles and access is usually only by foot.

You can find out where Wilderness Areas are either by accessing up to date mapping, the Plan of Management for the national park concerned or by contacting your local national park office. Plans of Management can be found here.

What about party limits in national park areas that are not declared wilderness? Well, that can vary. For parks like the Blue Mountains and Kosciuszko, walking groups bigger than 20 require prior approval from NPWS. In the Budawangs it is even lower. There is a limit of 12 for overnight groups and the recommended limit for day walks is 12. For other parks the Plan of Management doesn’t specify a limit.

In any case when planning a walk always consider party size in relation to the Bushwalkers Code.

Again, if in doubt consult the relevant Plan of Management or contact your local national park office.

Splendour Rock photos

Splendour Rock in the Wild Dogs of the Blue Mountains with its fabulous location is a unique war memorial that has attracted visitors from all over the world.  There is value in old photos.  Your help could make a planned book on Splendour Rock even better.  I am after photos of Jack Cummings as the Convenor of ANZAC Day Dawn Services.  Jack started the current series of an annual Dawn Service at Splendour Rock but it is a tragic tale.

Around 1990 Jack lead his first Dawn Service as a member of the (ex) Nepean Bushwalking Club.  He did so each ANZAC Day until his tragic death in 2001.  Now 2001 was not a good year for the Cummings family as on Christmas Day their family home and hence many bushwalking records were destroyed as a bushfire engulfed the town of Warragamba.

I am also after photos of something that is easy to overlook.  You camp on Mt Dingo but do you take photos of it?  Photos of camping on Mt Dingo before an ANZAC Day Dawn Service would also be appreciated.

Photos must be of the highest possible resolution.  All photos that are used will be acknowledged but (of course) not all photos will necessarily be used.  The aim is diversity in photos so please look through your old photo albums for relevant photos.  The more to choose from the better.

This small memorial raises many questions.  Who were the fallen bushwalkers?  Who cast the plaque and how / when was it installed?  Which bushwalker found this site and why was it chosen for the memorial?  When were Dawn Services held and do we have any old programs?  Who were the bushwalkers who served in WWII and returned?  What was the “Bushwalkers Service Committee”?  What about the “MATES” memorial?  The planned book by Michael Keats and I will answer these and many other questions with a wealth of information about this memorial plus several other memorials in the immediate area.  Hence, it should become a valuable reference for any bushwalker.  The story of Splendour Rock and the other memorials is a fascinating part of the history of bushwalking.

Coast and Mountain Walkers (CMW) have provided many excellent early history photos.  Other clubs must also have photos.  I am keen to balance this CMW contribution with more diversity.

Send your scanned photos to history@bushwalkingnsw.org.au

Splendour Rock Memorial 1948