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Sutherland Bushwalkers turn 50

This year Sutherland Bushwalkers celebrates its 50th anniversary and has published a commemorative pictorial club history to celebrate the milestone.

The new 50th anniversary book cover

It would be difficult to determine when the club commenced, as it started with a very informal gathering of like-minded people. Most of them worked at the Atomic Energy Commission at Lucas Heights or were connected with various Scouting and Rover groups in Sutherland Shire. The first activity of the group was a bushwalk from Yadboro up the Kalianna Ridge into the Monolith Valley and to Mount Owen on the Australia Day weekend, in January 1969.

In these very early stages it was an all-male association simply because of the common AAEC and Scouting link, but it didn’t take too long before a few more friends and wives were attending the activities.

Activities in the late sixties were arranged very casually when one of the group would write a brief description of an outing and then send it to all the others. Early activities included caving at Colong and Tuglow, walking the Budawangs, the Blueys and Kanangra, canoeing the Kangaroo and Shoalhaven. About two-thirds of the group had reasonably good bushwalking experience but there were virtually no caving, canoeing or other bushsports skills. Even so, this provided a good basis for real adventure and enjoyment of the bush.

By mid-1969 the group had expanded to about thirteen ‘members’ and some felt that a title would be appropriate. One name, ‘The Intrepids’ was considered to be a little irrelevant. About May 1970 the group chose the name ‘Sydney Bush Ramblers’. However, by the end of 1969 the casual group was still without any formal structure, club officers or regular meetings.

With the numbers gradually increasing to twenty-one by March 1970, a sketchy program of eighteen activities was compiled for that year.

1970s Some of the founding members: Maurie Bloom at left is still a club member, Jim Stevens, Mark Rice, Graeme Carter, Don Rice

During 1970, membership increased slowly through friends and personal contacts and by August there were about twenty-eight on the club list. During one bushwalk, the group met some members of the Catholic Bushwalkers who suggested that they should consider affiliating with the Bushwalkers Federation (forerunner of Bushwalking NSW). Little was known of the organisation, so they send a delegation to a Federation meeting to learn a bit more about their requirements for affiliation.

As a result, the first club general meeting of thirteen people was arranged in September 1970 to discuss this issue and to decide if it was worth joining. It was now just on two years since the original eleven decided to go bush. By the end of 1971 club membership had increased to 42 and regular meetings were held at the Caringbah Scout Hall, where they remained until a brief spell in 2006 at Kirrawee Soccer Club building, before relocating to their current home of the Stapleton Centre in Sutherland.

Sutherland Bushwalkers Committee Meeting, Jacaranda Scout Hall, 16 April 1984 with Murray Scott, Anthony Jackson, Graeme Carter, David Coombes, Arnold Fleischmann, Chris Terry, Beryl Young, Don Rice, Gisela Fleischmann

The club attracted many inquiries for membership during the early 1970’s but most were not interested in a club based in the Sutherland Shire and it became frustrating for the Club Committee to deal with inquiries from people who were not joining. The problem was that the Club’s name contained the word ‘Sydney’, creating confusion with the Sydney Bushwalkers Club, and also an expectation that Sydney was the club’s location. At the Annual General Meeting of February 2, 1977, the club officially became Sutherland Bushwalking Club.

Today Sutherland Bushwalkers membership holds steady at around 300 members, mostly from Sutherland Shire and the Georges River area. They conduct around 230 activities per year, attracting approximately 2,300 participants in bushwalking, cycling and kayaking in the Greater Sydney Region, around Australia and throughout the world. Bushfires and Covid-19 may have disrupted plans for anniversary celebrations, not to mention the temporary cessation of the activities program in 2020, but the club is once more enjoying friendships created through Covid-safe experiences in the bush.

Settlers Track Walk – Namadgi NP

Settlers Track Walk – Namadgi National Park,  1 November 2020, Report by Luke Mulders, Brindabella Bushwalking Club

Setters Track was an utterly delightful walk led by Bill Gibson in southern Namadgi NP. The weather was cool with fresh wind and no rain. After a drive of 90 minutes from Kambah and a short car shuffle, our group of 12 happy walkers was underway on the 16 km round trip exploring the delightful huts in this totally stunning, unburnt section of Namadgi NP.

The walk was mostly on management trails which enabled side to side walking and lots of socialising. Recent heavy rains provided flowing creeks and waterlogged flats. There were some early wildflowers (billy buttons) and multiple pockets of sprouting mushrooms.

At the walk end, to cap off the beautiful surroundings, we were all treated to delicious banana/passionfruit cake and scrumptious fruit-mince tart. What a way to finish!!


Our club of the month: Brindabella Bushwalking Club

The Brindabella Bushwalking Club (aka. BBC), is based in Canberra, ACT, has around 400 members, and offers a wide range of walking opportunities.  These include half-day and full day walks on Wednesdays, and full day walks on Saturdays and Sundays to suit all standards of walkers.

Bushwalks suitable for families with young children are also offered. Day walks usually take place in Canberra, rural areas of the ACT including Namadgi National Park, and nearby New South Wales. The club is a member of Bushwalking NSW and supports our Policy on Natural Areas.

Contact the BBC today to try out a walk, and discover the pleasures of walks around the ACT. You might also get some cake as a reward!
Brindabella Bushwalking Club

Child Protection Mandatory Reporting

On 1st October, 2020 the Office of the Children’s Guardian provided a webinar titled: Understanding your reporting obligations in sporting and local government organisations.

The recording for the webinar can be accessed here.

If you are listening from a place where children can hear the webinar the use of headphones is recommended.

 

Below is some information that was mentioned in the webinar and shared by Harris Short, Child Safe Coordinator, Local Government/Sport, Office of the Children’s Guardian.

For more information, click on the links provided.

 

Department and Communities and Justice (DCJ)

Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ), previously known as Family and Community Services (FaCS) or Department of Community Services (DoCS), is NSW’s statutory child protection agency. The Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 and Regulation 2012 detail DCJ’s responsibilities in keeping children safe.

A key responsibility is that DCJ is responsible for assessing reports made to the Child Protection Helpline. While anyone in the community can make a report to the Child Protection Helpline, that a child or group of children might be at risk of significant harm, the Care and Protection Act makes it mandatory for some people who work or volunteer in certain roles. For more information https://www.facs.nsw.gov.au/families/Protecting-kids/mandatory-reporters/about

For guidance about making a mandatory report, using the mandatory reporter guide, to submit an e-report, or other information about mandatory reporting, visit https://reporter.childstory.nsw.gov.au/s/

JCPRP

The ‘Joint Child Protection Response Program’ (JCPRP), which used to be called JIRT, aims to provide a seamless service response to children and young people at risk of significant harm as a result of sexual assault, serious physical abuse and extreme neglect. JCPRP is a tri-agency program delivered by the NSW Police Force, Department of Communities and Justice and NSW Health. Joint Referral Unit (JRU) has a representative of each agency to work on joint decision-making around intake to JCPRP. JCPRP investigations are led by detectives from the Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad.

Reportable Conduct

Learn about your obligations under the Reportable Conduct Scheme in our 30min video.

You can find information on the Children’s Guardian website about:

  • Identifying reportable allegations
  • Heads of entities and reportable conduct responsibilities
  • Planning and conducting an investigation
  • Recognising and managing conflicts of interest etc.

 

Information provided by:

Harris Short | Child Safe Coordinator, Local Government/Sport | Office of the Children’s Guardian
www.kidsguardian.nsw.gov.au

Raising Warrangamba Dam Wall Impacts

The NSW Nature Conservation Council (NCC) says that up to 1000 hectares of world heritage area and 3700 hectares of national park will be inundated for up to two weeks by raising Warragamba Dam wall.

The NCC is very concerned about 58 threatened species within the area already impacted by  recent bushfires including the koala, critically-endangered regent honeyeater, greater glider, broad-headed snake, brushtail rock wallaby, eucalyptus benthamii and eucalyptus glaucina.

In January 2020 the World Heritage Centre asked the Commonwealth Government to provide an update on the state of conservation of the Blue Mountains heritage area after more than 80 per cent was ravaged by fire last summer.

In response, the Commonwealth Government said Water NSW would re-assess bushfire impacts and include them in the pending environmental impact statement (EIS).  However, to date the draft EIS states Water NSW has no intention of re-assessing the area impacted by fire.

Ornithologist Martin Schulz said last summer’s Green Wattle Creek blaze burnt most of the southern Blue Mountains leaving only a small unburnt section which will likely be flooded by the Dam. “The ecosystems are different and parts will be in recovery for decades. How can an assessment done before the fires be valid? Dr Schulz asked. The fires changed so many things,” he said.

The draft EIS shows before the bushfires only 15 hours of spotlight searches were conducted for the koala, greater glider and squirrel glider in the inundation area, despite a 61 hour recommendation. Dr Schulz says this is “bafflingly low” especially for koalas given the area is so vast and how hard they are to find.

The time spent gathering sample collections of the squirrel glider and brush-tailed phascogale also didn’t meet the guidelines with only 1820 nights completed but 3224 nights recommended. The assessment of the large-eared pied bat was 11 times less the suggested amount with traps laid for 78 nights yet 864 recommended. “The low survey effort for the large-eared pied bat is particularly disappointing,” Dr Schulz said.

Community group Give a Dam spokesman Harry Burkitt has called on the Federal Government to intervene.

“The barrow-loads of leaked material now in the public domain show (Western Sydney) Minister Stuart Ayres and Infrastructure NSW haven’t even bothered following NSW guidelines, let alone those required under federal law or by UNESCO,” he said.

Infrastructure NSW, which oversees the project, says feedback from state and federal governments on the draft EIS is important in developing the final version. “The final decision on the dam raising proposal will only be made after all environmental, cultural, financial and planning assessments are complete,” a spokeswoman said.

The World Heritage Committee, which selects sites for UNESCO’s world heritage list, has expressed concerns over the project and will review the EIS before the Federal Government’s decision.

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

Evans Head Spring Flower Walk with NRBC

A walk Report By Ian Pick, Northern Rivers Bushwalking Club:

“What does one do as a leader when 32 walkers want to come along? Talk to Carmel who says “Yes I’ll help out”. What does one do as a leader when the number of walkers increases to 42? Ring Heike K. and you know what the response will be “Of course I will be glad to help you”.

So, on a sunny Sunday three walking parties set off at Evans Head with 2 going the “normal way” and my lot going anticlockwise through the wildflower heath first. The Boronias were in full bloom, lots of them.

We arrived at Chinamans Beach Picnic Area for morning tea before walking through heathland towards the bombing range. On arrival there was no aerial bombardment so we progressed quietly on the sand dunes to Goanna Headland.

There appears to be different names for South Evans Coastland features but Uncle Google calls it Goanna Headland so I will too. Here we passed the two other walking parties who were socially distancing.

After a short break to take in the view we headed off along New Zealand Beach back to the picnic area where we enjoyed lunch sitting at the sheltered picnic tables.

The final part of the walk was on the coastal paths. We stopped at a couple of the small headlands starting at Joggly Point and were almost mesmerised by the pristine blue sea gently breaking on the rocks. It proved to be a real highlight and, in the end, it made me think that going in our direction for this walk was better. We saved the best the walk had to offer to the end.”

Our club of the month: Northern Rivers Bushwalking Club

The Northern Rivers Bushwalking Club (aka. NRBC), runs a variety of bushwalking, cycling, kayaking and abseiling activities each week in the National Parks, State Forests and coastal areas of the NSW North Coast Region, and beyond!

This friendly club has activities to suit everyone and welcomes new members. The club runs regular inter-club trips in Australia, and organises overseas trips for members (covid-permitting).

Contact the NRBC today to have a chat, join an activity, and learn about the beautiful northern rivers region of NSW!

Northern Rivers Bushwalking Club

A few words from the President

October, and we are well into spring. I thought I’d open my few words with a pithy quote about spring, something that might enthuse bushwalkers everywhere. How about Robin Williams’ declaration that “Spring is nature’s way of saying, Let’s Party”? Let’s get out into the bush and party! But then I discovered Margaret Atwood telling us that “in the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt”. I suspect little did she think she was addressing a bunch of bushwalkers who, after a good hike probably do smell a wee bit like dirt. So there it is, get out there and party, and whatever you do, come home smelling of the great outdoors.

And talking of the great outdoors, I hear that clubs across NSW are getting out and about more these days. The winter hibernation – a generous interpretation of the Covid lockdowns – has passed. We in NSW have been fortunate to be able to roam more widely and in larger numbers than our bushwalking counterparts in Victoria. Do spare them a thought. And so it is that we are able, in this State, to reexplore our own back yards. Perhaps you might be doing a little of what I have been doing recently, exploring parts of the State I haven’t visited for many years. Before the Queensland border was closed (again!), I decided to take the long route to Canberra from the north coast, avoiding Greater Sydney so that I could get across the border for a bit of grandparent duty without having to declare I’d been in the dreaded hotspot. The result, a fine bit of hiking in the Warrumbungles, and a reminder of what the western districts can offer us. Return trips to the New England Tableland, Mount Kaputar, and the Pilliga are in the offing, and no doubt several other choice destinations will delight. Thank you, by the way, to the bushwalking clubs whose web sites I have perused to help my planning.

But we all have our own backyards. And this year, our backyards are all looking pretty good. Everywhere I have been there is fine spring green growth, the flowers are popping out, and in my own sub-tropical rainforest clad mountains we are getting views! Yes, views! Bushwalking in rainforest is rewarded by glimpses rather than views, and often precious few of these. As the burnt forest recovers, we are rewarded with more expansive views – although hardly expansive in a Snow Mountain sense – and on recent walks we have all been able to understand the lie of the land better.

Talking of flowers, who has had an opportunity to take a walk or two along our wonderful coast recently? The coastal heath is looking good these days, and for the twitchers amongst us, the birds are out. One of the groups I was out with recently was determinedly warned off by a couple of kites guarding their chicks. And if you are lucky, you will still be able to spot a few the whales. They are still migrating south. On the same walk, progress was delayed considerably as a couple of whales put on the most impressive display of tail and fin slapping, rolling and generally having, dare I say it, a whale of a time. And all within easy view from the shore.

So, let’s get out there and party! Happy bushwalking everyone. Bill

Western Sydney Parklands Mapped

While walking volunteers mapped the northern section of Western Sydney Parklands a few years ago, they have recently mapped the Parklands southern section from Prospect Reservoir to West Hoxton. Walking routes are now available on their “Sydney Walking Tracks” online map.

If you haven’t walked the Parklands before, you are in for a welcome surprise!

South of Prospect Reservoir, the Parklands run along Devils Back Ridge with some wonderful views east to the City and west to the Blue Mountains including one of the best ridgetop panoramas in Sydney at The Beauty Spot.

Since 2008 the Parklands Trust have re-generated 13 square kilometres of Cumberland Plain bushland with 350,000 native trees and plants. Many of these plantings have matured into wonderful treescapes that provide shade on the bitumen shared paths network and walker-friendly slashed paths.  The Trust has signposted several walking loops but the walking volunteers map will keep you on track if you want to venture further afield and stay off the shared paths.

Now is the perfect time to walk this brilliant parkland!

If you have already downloaded “Sydney Walking Tracks” map onto your smartphone, tablet or PC these routes will automatically appear. If you haven’t downloaded the map yet, it is available on the Walking Volunteer’s website .

The Parklands Trust is running a “Get Back on Track Challenge” in conjunction with NAB Runwest. See here for details.

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”