Kanangra Return In 24 Hours

by Athol Abrahams

(From SUBW Logbook 3)

Party – Athol Abrahams & Dave Dash

July 1965

“What do you see in marathon walking? You go that fast you don’t see the scenery; you don’t enjoy the swims, the sun bathing; you miss the gorges, the bludges, the sing alongs, the campfires, the wenching…, etc.” What defence is there to this apparently irrefutable statement – there appears to be none. Except for one word: “Challenge”!

Why does man try to run faster, swim farther, jump higher or learn more? The reason: simply that someone somewhere has found it a challenge. It doesn’t matter what the challenge is, if man can think of one then man will always seek to better it.

So bushwalkers have found new challenges, once one is accomplished another is sought. New places, new peaks, new canyons, new menus, more leisure, better songs, lighter equipment…and eventually you get down to faster times – or marathon walking!

One Wednesday night I happened to ring Ray Jerrems who happened to mention during the conversation that four CMWs were to attempt a Kanangra return trip in 24 hours. I said nothing since I had been walking once in the past six months and any such attempt was best forgotten. Later that night I rang Dave and mentioned it – but we talked each other out of it. Thursday night we were still talking ourselves out of it – but all the same feeling that this was a grand walk and we were piking before we had even started. Eventually, at 9:30 on Thursday night we decided to go along as a separate party and perhaps we would meet the CMWs along the way. Friday night saw us emerge from Dave’s car at 1.25 a.m. and we set off for Kanangra at a brisk pace with the CMW party right behind us! They had a very strong team with two who had done the 3 Peaks in 24 hours and who were the current record holders. One held the record for Perry’s Lookdown to the Nepean via the Grose in 10 hours and three of the party had finished second and tied for third in the 50 mile walk in 8 hours 45 minutes. They passed us after 3 hours and beat us to the end of Narrow Neck by 20 minutes (we took 1 hour 50 minutes). We made the Cox’s in 3 hours 10 minutes and we were at the base of Marcott’s Pass well ahead of schedule, almost an hour before dawn. We had to dawdle in the dark, but Dave set a good pace when it was light enough to see and we did the pass in 1 hour 15 minutes (a bit slow). We found the CMW party at the top of Gentle’s Pass. Ray Jerrems and Ray (a mate) had dropped out due to illness while Norm and John joined us. We crossed the High Gangerangs in good time, crossed Cloudmaker and pushed on the Kanangra. At Mt. Berry, John pranged his knee and hobbled on behind. We waited at Kanangra for an hour (as agreed) till he made it, where he decided to call it quits.

Katoomba to Kanangra in 9 hours….

We headed down Gingra at a trot and reached the Kowmung with little trouble 2 hours later (or was it 2 and a half?). Down the Kowmung and over Moko Buttress via the old bridle trail and down Whaites Pass to have tea at the base of White Dog Ridge just on dark at 5:30 (I think). At this stage we were quite confident we could do it – there was no hurry, we pressed on at a steady plod. We arrived back at the car at Narrow Neck (O’Sullivan’s Road) after 21 hours and 15 minutes walking – a great one day walk! The worst part of the evening was to come – Dave had left his sleeping bag at home and had lost his car keys!! We were stuck in below freezing temperatures and we were tired with no way of keeping warm. I was right since I had a bag, but Dave had to spend the night curled up on the front seat of the car with every bit of material he could find to cover himself. But the beauty of the position was that 50 yards away in a cave were 3 CMWs with 3 spare sleeping bags!!!!

The next morning Dave did some beaut improvising and we drove home with me holding the two ignition wires together to keep the motor running. Just to cap things off we were booked going through Lawson. Hells Bells! What a tedious 48 hours we had!

Route: Katoomba – White Dog – Marcott’s Pass – Cloudmaker – Kanangra Tops – Gingra – The Mighty Kowmung River – Moko Buttress – Whaites Pass – White Dog – Katoomba.