Trip Report: President’s Bludge Trip, 28 September – 1 October 2007

Party: Martine Bardy, James “many nicknames” Bevan*, Jo Boyd#, Ashley Burke, Marina Carpinelli, Sabrina “Sabs” Cascio, Peter ____, Nazzih Chammas, Albert Chetcuti, Alicia Corbett, Alex Debono, Meredith Dodds, Dave “Digidave” Forbes, Marcelle Gannon*, Swetlana “Lana” Gez, Tom “Other Other Tom” Gleeson#, Rachel Green, Pete Harvey*, Rob Hynes, Mitchell “Mitch” Isaacs, Yves Kerdraon*, Jademond Kiang*, Jeff Kingston, Ben Kong*, Dave “Fritz” Lee, Roger Lembit, Tina Ludwig, Kim ____, Tom Mactier, Tom “Other Tom” Murtagh, Maria-Cristina Merlo, David “D2” Millar-Powell, Stefanie Muller, Dave Noble, Martin Pfeil, Peter Raines, Ricarda Roemer, Daniel “VP Dan” Ryan, Cameron Schmelitschek*, Nicole St Vincent Welch*

# Saturday / Sunday only
* Sunday / Monday only

(… is that everyone? Okay, let’s go on …)

It was the darnedest thing. On Friday night three of us drove up to the Gearins from Hornsby, with a vague plan to upbraid its owner for shutting the kitchen on Sundays, then have a wander down the Kowmung. We arrived to discover another small group of SUBWs at the pub (nothing unusual about that) and decided to drive and camp at the head of the Uni Rover trail to see if we could maybe get something together the following morning. And what do you know, there were a couple of SUBWs there, too! Fancy that.

In the cold hard light of day, the sheer magnitude of the coincidence became terrifyingly apparent. Several other SUBW parties of no more than eight had independently come to similar plans for a weekend in the bush, and soon the trailhead looked like a Subaru dealership. Thinking quickly, I grabbed a dozen sheets of paper, drew an arrow on them pointing towards Hatchers Hollow, and gave one to each party with the understanding that they would let me know if they got lost.

Our own group brought up the rearguard, and we cursed our bad luck: the club Beer Officer with his case of New was several parties in front, and we were stuck with Mitch and his *ridiculous* 40 kilo pack of cocktails. The weather was beautiful and sunny, the views from Lost Rock and the Boyd Range were sensational, but all we got were mealy-mouthed excuses about the rum being right down the bottom of his pack, making Travel Pina Coladas impossible. Martin and Sabs took this news very badly — they were carrying the ice. We slogged on to Mt Savage and reunited happily with the other groups for lunch on Sombre Dome, continued down a spectacular ridge past a wealth of magnificent indigofera, dendrobia and pseudopodia in bloom, thence up the Mighty Kowmung to the hallowed halls of Hatchers Hollow.

Our primary objective thus obtained, the bludging commenced in earnest. Before even the slowest of the very fast walkers had arrived, grog was being hauled out of packs and fashioned into the words “SUBW”, “PBT”, and “Press On Regardless – 61 Years of Sydney University Bushwalking”, truly a remarkable effort. The cocktail bar swung into action. Hors d’oeuvres appeared from nowhere and disappeared instantly. The campfire was a maelstrom of roasting, boiling, broiling, frying, flaying and jaffling, and before we knew it the songbooks came out and Roger’s shirt came off and there was nothing anybody could do about it. Rachel had brought a guitar and tried her best to drown out The Ballad Of Samuel Hall but there wasn’t a chance. One or two of the regular bludgers quietly managed to squeak out a couple of verses of the Wild West Show — a remarkable fragile tune sung by each, traditionally, in his or her own key. By time for the National Anthem, almost everyone had bludged off entirely. We shrugged and sang and slunk off to sleep the sleep of the bludgey.

(Huey had other ideas, of course. It was remarkably windy all weekend, and I seem to recall at least one fly escaping. Certainly my sleep was fitful and my dreams were filled with massive thunderstorms and thoughts of purchasing a house next to a 24-hour international airport.)

By contrast, Sunday came upon us bright and bleary-eyed. You can probably imagine it — thirty-odd sore and sorry bodies emerging into the blinding spring morning … or afternoon …. All I can really remember is pancakes. SO MANY pancakes. And Alicia brought real maple syrup — but that’s a whole other story. There had been some grandiose plans to head down Waterfall Ck with a 50m rope, but in true bludgey fashion these were shed pathetically by the wayside in favour of volleyball and a quick bludge up Redcliff Ck to check out the stinging trees. Others didn’t even make it that far. A lazy, lazy day. It was fantastic. Tom G and Jo bludged out a day early, and a couple more groups bludged in with the Saturday papers. BLUDGE.

Later in the day the semi-alcoholic haze had become viscous enough to lead to adventurousness, and a good hour was spent trying to hurl a bone tied to the rope over a high fork in a tree. No injuries, alas, and so it was rather an anticlimax when Peter (?) succeeded. Ever-hopeful, we got Fritz and Albert to prussik up in the hope of gore, but when it became clear that they knew what they were doing everyone kind of lost interest and turned their attentions to the slackline, which promised all sorts of possibilities for twisted ankles and wounded pride. But it turned out that Alex was really good at it! In a last-ditch attempt to sate our schadenfreude, Kim and Tina started doing a sort of high-energy dancing which involved throwing bodies all over the place, but it’s my sad duty to report that our worst injuries over the weekend were a tick and a few sore knees. Better luck next year.

Sunday evening continued and, as usual, panic set in as people found the awesome goodies they would have to carry out unless they could find some gullible people to help them eat and drink. Our massive contingent of ravenous rubes was only too happy to help, and the night wore on …

… but the next morning it all had to come to an end. As is traditional, the party organically split up onto fifteen spurs up Mt Doris, and as we worked our way up Despond Ridge it became clear to me how difficult it is to count three dozen people. Live ones, anyway. The trip back up Misery Ridge and over the tops is never memorable and I can’t remember anything about it. We got back to the cars and the Groper’s battery was flat, we went to the Halfway House for dinner, and we returned to Sydney exhausted and sated, all of which is exactly as tradition dictates.

Boy howdy! What a trip. Never have so many done so little for so long. Photos are already up on various websites and Facebooks and slide nights. Thanks to everyone for making it such a fine weekend, and thanks especially to the drivers. Maybe there should be some sort of PBT next year too, I think it would be kind of fun.