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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

 

 

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.

The Sutherland Bushwalking Club Adopts ‘Royal’ Tracks

Have you ever noticed an overgrown trail or track in your favourite National Park?

Ever wondered if you could do something about it?

The Sutherland Bushwalking Club is one of the clubs that has, and they continue to do so.

The Sutherland Bushwalking Club may be unique, having proudly contributed almost 600 hours of combined effort on various track projects, on over 12 separate work & planning days in what they have dubbed their ‘Adopt a Track’ project.

The Club’s success is a demonstration of what a Club does for its community, and an example of how a Bushwalking Club and the National Parks and Wildlife Services (NPWS) can work together to make parks available to all bushwalkers into the future.

Click to see the Royal National Park on Google Maps

The Club focused on the Royal National Park and initiated talks with the local ranger. Naturally, the agreement required lengthy negotiations with NPWS to meet government regulations and still be effectively managed.

It was eventually worked out that Sutherland Bushwalkers would ‘adopt’ The Burgh Track in the Royal National Park and help maintain it. At the time, the Burgh Track had become badly overgrown, blocked at many points by fallen trees and subject to erosion because of blocked drainage.

There were certain stipulations involved: NPWS determined which track and which part of that track; and a Group Co-ordinator was required to discuss with the Head Ranger track guidelines, cut heights, being responsible for walkers staying on the track and reducing trip hazards. There were also a non-members attending from Bushcare Australia, as well as youths from the Duke of Edinburgh Program.

NPWS supplied most of the tools, such as saws, secateurs, loppers and clippers.

Click for larger image of the Burgh Track

The Club provided their unbridled enthusiasm and experience, expert bushwalking gear, tender loving care and muscle power.

The first day was 10 August 2015 with several members meeting at Garrawarra Farm. Armed with tools mostly supplied by National Parks and Wildlife Services, the Club members walked the track and cleared it as they walked.

Since then, the track has now been fully cleared and looks like the best maintained track in the Park. The hardest work has been clearing fallen trees, but now only sporadic visits, checking culverts and looking out for storm damage are needed to monitor its condition.

The Club continues helping to this day, and more recently NPWS have requested they work regularly on the Uloola Track, between Audley & Uloola Falls every three months; which they access by driving down a fire trail.

The Club’s ‘Adopt a Track’ project now consists of a one day event every three months, from 9am to 12:30 and then finishes up with lunch in the bush. The event is run by a passionate leader who loves the park, and is a great way for Club members to meet and get to know one another, including new members. Those less experienced or mobile lend a hand with other tasks such as lopping smaller branches, cleaning track signage or even supplying a little something for morning tea.

If you’d like to join in the fun, contact The Sutherland Bushwalking Club via their website: http://www.sutherlandbushwalkers.org.au/

You can also head out and enjoy these great walks for yourself:

Sutherland Bushwalking Club is not alone in assisting NPWS and Councils with track maintenance. If your own club also does track maintenance, we’d love to hear from you. Just click here to send us an email.

Visit The Royal National Park