The Kangaroo Valley Saga

May Holidays 1987

by Ashley Burke

It was to be an easy overnight walk. It turned out to be a most easy creek bash, lawyer vine bash, rotting foothold bash, pass bash, road bash, 4WD bash, and pie guzzle. Like all true sagas it had repercussions far into the future.

The trip to which the above description applies was none other than the infamous Kangaroo Valley walk attempted by Richard, Carol, Bruce, Paul (Green) and myself.

It started off easily enough. Having left our cars at Upper Kangaroo Valley at lunchtime on the first day, we began walking up the Kangaroo River towards the bottom of Missingham’s Pass. The intention was to go up Missingham’s Pass and down Ebb’s Pass and back to the cars the following day.

That evening was uneventful, save for the fire exploding, the main casualties being Paul’s dinner, Carol’s bowl and my Karimat.

Next morning the climb up the side of the gorge to Missingham’s Pass began. This ascent was delayed by the fact that soggy, rotten and hollow logs were impersonating strong, sturdy footholds. This in combination with lawyer vines, strategically positioned stinging tree and generally rainy conditions resulted in us taking half a day to get to where the pass wasn’t. “Burke’s Pass” (complete with chimney climb) acted as a substitute to the missing Missingham’s Pass. The string used to, haul the packs up the pass snapped, causing Richard’s pack to fall on his head. Fortunately his cranium was of sufficient strength and thickness to withstand the impact.

Now, this is where the saga really begins. Having got everyone to the rim of the gorge there was no possibility of getting down Ebb’s Pass and back to the cars before dark. It was therefore decided to get Richard to hitch back to his van and bring it back to fetch us. A lift appeared so quickly that we neglected to make ironclad arrangements.

As we stood there in the freezing wind and driving rain, speculation arose as to the existence of a pie shop at the next corner, about 7km down the road. As we’d had nothing since breakfast we braved the walk.

A little over an hour later we stumbled, sopping wet and thoroughly bedraggled, into the pie shop. We collapsed into some chairs, and immediately began guzzling pies and hot drinks. This animalistic process of consumption continued in true SUBW tradition, much to the horror of other pie shop patrons – until our money ran out. All the time we were thinking of poor Richard, tramping back to the cars in the pouring rain.

The eating ritual now over, we waited and waited, but no Richard. Eventually, a man came into the shop and informed us that a chap “just like youse” had been in a pub, 3k’s further on down the road, “all afternoon”.

“Wonderful”, I thought, “just bloody wonderful’.

Any sympathy that we had had for Richard’s plight evaporated rapidly and the suggestion of a walk to Robertson Pub to find out what the hell was going on was debated vigorously for the next few minutes. We finally took off on the strength of an ununaminous decision.

The 3km road bash to the pub was an all out war with Hughie, who did his best to blow us off the side of the road the whole way. Finally we entered the pub, only to discover that Richard had gone to a farmer’s barn for the night. And so for the second time that night, Carol and I disappeared out into the gale. Hitching proved less easy than anticipated but eventually, to our infinite joy, a 4WD ute stopped for us. But who should step out but Richard himself. We were pissed off with him at the time, but in all fairness to Richard he had tried his hardest to hitch back and then had made friends with a farmer in the pub, who had promised to lend us his 4WD in the morning. Richard had gone with the farmer to find us but hadn’t thought to look in the pie shop??!!?

Everything would then have been fine except for the fact that were supposed to be meeting Patrick and two guys at Bomaderry Station just about then and taking them up to Newhaven Gap where we were to meet Wally, Sally and David for a Budawangs trip. Richard had already rung Bomaderry Station to leave a message explaining the situation to Patrick, Ian and Peter. Because all of these arrangements were in jeopardy, we asked the farmer if we could borrow the 4WD now to recover Richard’s van.

He was more than happy to oblige and took us back to his farm where we found Bruce and Paul. Richard and I headed off, with myself driving while the others made themselves at home in the hayshed.

Relieved to have things under control at last, I settled happily into the 50km drive back to the cars. Any sense of relief was however annihilated when about 7km down the road Richard exclaimed:


“Guess what!”


“My car keys are in the hayshed.”

“You ruddy moron!”


After retrieving the keys Richard and I drove off again, along the windy, muddy route to Upper Kangaroo Valley where Richard’s van was waiting.

With Richard in the van and me in the ute, we headed in convoy back to the hayshed at Robertson. This part of the saga actually, believe it or not, went according to plan.

Now well into the early hours we deposited the ute, plus some money (which the farmer had refused before) at the farmer’s yard, collected the others from the hayshed and headed back to Kangaroo Valley to pick up my Hillman and Bruce’s car. We part company with Bruce and Paul at this point, they went back to Sydney. Richard drove to Bomaderry Station to pick up Patrick and the others while Carol and I headed directly to Newhaven Gap in my Hillman, which was firing perfectly on two out of four of its mighty cylinders. We arrived about 4:00 in the morning

Here begin the repercussions: Patrick and co. ended up sleeping in the station’s ladyies’ loo to avoid some toughs at the RSL club – for some reason Richard didn’t think to look there so he didn’t find them until the morning. On their drive to Newhaven Gap they missed a turnoff and hence did a lot more driving than necessary. Poor sleepy Richard almost rolled his van – when they finally arrived, Patrick was driving!

Naturally we had a very late start on this walk and so ended up being delayed an extra night.

Bruce had had such a hard time in K.V. that he gave me a message for Wally, Sally and David that he might not turn up for a planned walk with them a few days later. He did turn up, but wasn’t in quite the right place. Wally and co. left without him.