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WHO: Fritz, Nicole, Kathleen, Jeremiah, Alex Moore, Michael, Christy,
           Jamal, Alex Meekin, Kirstine, Dayna, Kate Hayes, Ting, Ralf, Yuriko,
           Jana, Ashley, Karine, Albert, Jin Yi, Kim, Sausage, Falk, Sabine,
           Melanie, Pete Raines, Lauren, Kate Lord, Mitch, Pete Harvey, Tom,
           Kate Sullivan, Ben, Nina [list confirmed at least 70% accurate] HOW: Grassy Hill Firetrail down to the Colo
WOH! I know, right?

The “Freshers Trip” is one of the several traditions that the Club maintains. Each year, a group of fresh-faced newbies are tricked, trapped, bribed or otherwise cajoled into a straightforward overnight trip to somewhere wonderful in the hopes of entangling them in the web of SUBW.

Fritz generously took it upon himself to organise the walk this year — a departure from our usual haunts, instead heading down to the limestone of Bungonia Gorge, an area which has really impressed us on a few previous trips. Alas, scant days before the walk, Albert had to spoil the fun by noticing that the entire Bungonia SRA was closed all week for a massive Pig And Goat Shoot-A-Thon. Disaster! Maps of the Sydney Basin were hastily examined and prodded, and the glass was smashed on the Colo River Contingency Plan. Beautiful clear water, soaring sandstone cliffs, and the most persistent sand known to humanity — it was hardly a tough decision.

Saturday found us a beautiful warm, sunny day. The original plan was to drive out along the Grassy Hill Firetrail to its bitter end, to ensure adequate bludging time, but with the party assembled at the turnoff from the Putty Road, certain troublesome elements in the party determined that a good old-fashioned Road Bash would be a better way to break the ice. So, we did that. There is then a well-defined track down to a big bend on the Colo, whereupon Fritz contemplated the situation and decided that camping on the beach, rather than among the trees, would be the best way to maximise the amount of pernicious Colo sand that everyone would get out in their clothes, packs, tents, food, hair, intimates etc etc. So, we did that too, and got about bludging.

It wouldn’t be as good bludging without a case of beer, so we had two of those, and it wouldn’t be as good if the beer was warm, so Albert kindly reached into his Science Fridge and got us a couple of eskies of dry ice. (I definitely recommend Science Fridges to anyone contemplating a summer bushwalk.) We have footage of astounded freshers splashing terrified downstream pursued by steaming chunks of ice and our Beer Officer prostrate in a smoking raft. Of course there was swimming, and liloing, and the always horrifying tableau of SUBW veterans getting around with nothing save a camera and budgie-smugglers, but eventually the shadows grew long as the sun dipped early below the walls of the Colo Gorge.

Then, things started to liven up.

I won’t bore you by detailing the Bacchanalia that transpired, but suffice it to say that wine, women and song all got a look-in. The “Wild West Show” also made an appearance. If you’re familiar with the Show, I think it’s fun to cast your mind back and try to recall your reaction the first time you heard it, because it helps to understand the mystified faces around the campfire on each Freshers Trip. Verse after verse, “in this corner” after “in this corner”, until the penny drops. “Ah, it is just a dumping ground for the worst puns in the universe*. I understand now.” At some stage, a shipment of latecomers arrived with extra supplies, which they appeared to have already largely consumed. The extra volume was not well received by a separate party who were tented up in a cave on the other side of the river, but luckily they made the best of a potentially awkward situation — so, apologies to them. The night wore on as silently as plausible.

Next morning — uh, a couple of hours later — we were a party transformed. Gone was the bonhomie. Gone was the idle chit-chat. Stony faced and grey, silently munching on muesli bars and left-over brie, clearly the group was already upset about the prospect of the trip’s imminent completion. With hopes of prolonging the fun, Pete Raines and Ashley set up a bit of abseiling for interested beginners, some others had a shot at the grade 5 rapid (yeah, right) just below the campsite, and a big old carpet python happened across our festivities. But all good things must come to an end, we packed and legged it up to the road and back to civilisation.

Very many photos have already emerged:

Based on small sample sizes, it seems that a good time was had by ALL. So, good work everyone. Take the rest of the day off! Thanks to Fritz for organising it, and especially to the drivers. Hope to see everyone on more trips in the future.

Oh — and don’t bother trying to get the Colo sand out of your gear, it lives there now.


* All credit goes to Dayna, who had a much more elegant but NSFW phrasing of this.