Turossian Saga

by Carol Mills

Walks report from SUBW Logbook 2

(Fri 25th Aug — Fri 1st Sept 1961)

Leader Col Oloman

Followers Liz, Barb, Carol, David Darmanian, Dave Dash, Pop.

Itinerary Cooma — Countagenay — Tuross R — Bodalla.

Fri Aug 24th

Seven would-be Turossians assembled at Central station on a wet miserable evening in time for the Cooma Mail which was to leave at 8.40/8.45/8.50 — depending upon one’s source. At 8.50 it moved. The next hour was spent in merrily choofing 1/2 way to Redfern & back several times. Having, we believe, metamorphosed into the Ski Special, it departed.

The journey was whiled with music (?) from old Dave (hence David) on mouthorgan and Col on recorder [N.B. Young Dave — hence Dave] to which we plebs sang. Other merrymaking such as sleeping & drinking NSWGR H2O were also indulged in. Needless to say, no hardy soul claimed the remaining seat in the compartment.

At 3 a.m. we were in Goulburn. [N.B. the local constab does not love hobnailed walkers who run thru the main street at 3 a m & sing.] We dutifully consumed hamburgers & then David bethought him of the racecourse stables whose hospitality had previously been recommended him. These were found after some confusion & here shelter was found for that precious fragment of the morn left to us.

Saturday 25th

… followed by arising, & departure for a good healthy breakfast (har) in the local cafe’. (N.B. Goulburn people drink “Cappacheena, love”.) Next we straggled on to the Canberra road, split up, tossed for the best position, & arranged to meet in Cooma. This proved to be wet, dreary, full of fast cars (people in em too) & with no good picture on.

All of us obtained 6 days supply of inner warmth & went on a taxi hunt. At last we trapped 2 who were willing, but made us wait for them at the Alpine Hotel. These country taxi drivers conveyed us at a terrific bat through Numeralla & on to Countegenay (Co~u~n-te^-ge^n-e~e~) past some beautiful country which was obscured owing to rain & mud. Countegenay proved to be a (widely) scattered set of homesteads & a school. Our drivers, who had been manfully taking ruts, rivers etc, suddenly jibbed at a creek & we found ourselves out in the rain — minus L6.

Sheltering on the school (subsidised) veranda, Col remembered a previous offer of a hayloft, & he and David went to see if it still applied. They came back with the shearer’s quarters instead, from a prosperous-looking property called “Werreen” — proprietor’s name unknown — but he had dozens of lovely dogs. A good night was spent — pillows, mattresses, beds etc. etc.

Sun 26th

Thanked the bloke & his wife & squelched thru the mud. Sauntered across paddocks on a grey but fine morn & observed en route lichens, views, & how to poison rabbits. Fence crossing technique was improved, too. Finally we struck the Tuross & followed it for about 3 miles. The country here was goodish and we pushed along fairly well until a good spot was found & lunch partaken. Then all but Pop, who had taken up blister culture, went to see the falls. (He saw them next day, anyway.)

The falls were wonderful!!! They were swollen by the rain, too, which made them better. This rising also prevented us crossing the river — far too deep, wide, cold & fast. The previous party did cross (p 43). The cataracts were a wonderful entre’e to the main falls. Without them I should have been stunned & the upper falls alone were mighty — & the thought of what might happen to any mere human in the water here was quite discomforting. The main falls announced their presence with a prodigious quantity of flying spray.

The falls were stupendous!! A huge quantity of water coming out of a canyon, forking in two, & roaring on to the rocks below & then around a little peninsula with trees on it shining with spray as the whole peninsula xxxxxed in a rainbow formed in the spray — This was all below us in a sort of bowl carved from the solid granite with one outlet into a wide canyon with vertical sides which went for about 3 miles & then as a gorge for another ten.

Being unable to cross, we could not, without reasonable difficulty, descend (& were not at all sure of the ascent) & so abstained & satisfied ourselves with climbing a large rock. Thence we woffled on down the gorge-top some distance until some heretics sat down leaving Col & Liz to burn on alone.

When it was deemed that they were lost we hastened back to consume their (urgh-ugh) dewcrisps. To our chagrin they returned — but perhaps it was for the best; Col had our MAP — fat lot of good it was.

The evening was passed with song, rum, music, rum & milk, conversation, & rum

Monday 27

Brekker — porrige (Dave & Pop); instant oats (ie add H2O) — David & Barb; oats au bushwalker (Liz & myself); Semolina a` l’Oloman (similar to oats except for main ingredient); gritty granules (grape nuts) — Liz.

A very early start (9.30) was had, woffled down where we’d been yesterday, decided that the country was chunderous & that the aforementioned (p 43) & hence unaligned map was correct on few points although not incorrect either — its makers followed the “When in doubt, do nothing” doctrine.

From a vantage point at the end of the canyon part, we looked across & saw a “flat” ridge leading down our side of the river all the way to Woila Ck (pron Wayley by the local yokels). Col, the optimist, quoth “Woila tonight, boys” & we all agreed & in this frame of mind set off. About 2 ups later we sat on a granite slab having morning tea & agreed that it was probably just a small inconsistency in this agreeable country. Lunch was taken 1 biggish up later (please do not take these as accurate, being a concientious objector to ups, they tend to magnify in gradient & number in the memory — but I think they are accurate) upon the usual fare with the usual variety — “Its off luv”.

Scrunge was entered. This consisted of densish scrub — very springbackish with a layer of loose granite boulders & wet slimy logs covered with dense grass & the occasional lawyer for luck underfoot. Suddenly after time 00 [read: “infinity”] we were on a saddle which led up to a peak which to the weary souls looked revolting. It was about 200′, covered with granite boulders to crawl over or go around & lots of fallen logs to crawl over/under/around/along, which marked the progress of an old bushfire. By the summit we were all somewhat annoyed & weary except for the indefatigable Col who composed “Ode to being up”. There was a little water here, in pools, which was consumed with the aid of David’s invaluable “toob” — we were anticipating a dry camp. Hence we ~~~’d along a while thru more scrunge until hysteria was imminent in some. Here a certain nasty pessimist began to predict that since there was so much missing from _that_ ^*(!&| map, probably the only thing it showed did not exist. This sedition continued for the 2 days that the Woila was lost. (I prefer not to divulge who this was.)

The country thru which we were travelling was pretty aweful — but beautiful; but it was some consolation that it was as bad or _worse_ on the other side — gee we were lucky we couldn’t cross! Something should be done about that aweful map; on the other side, one bit (flat on the map) appeared to go like so (roughly):

At last we halted & reconnaissance was made, & it was decided to return to a flattish patch above the second creek we had found that afternoon. This (unmarked as usual) creek was fairly large & plunged off the edge of the plateau towards the river. We found a clearing & decided it wasn’t big enough for tents. The blokes hacked a beautiful almost permanent track to the creek, & _NB._ the girls fetched wood & built & lit the fire — consequently, according to superior male judgement, it was all wrong — thenceforth they did it. David & Barb did pitch a tent — later in the night it rained & 2 tents were hurriedly slung between the trees.

Tuesday 28th

Col peached in his tent was named “the Shark of the Tuross”. Liz looked as though she’d been plucking ducks all night, as did the campsite, since several panels of her sleeping bag had been ripped — these feathers dogged our trail for the remainder of the journey.

After Brekker we progressed backwards around a peak — we’d been slightly off course last night & then, DOWN and around grungy-type contours and (/) again at a terrific bat. The lovely Tuross was below, the gorge-canyon opening up, sun shining, & “all downhill from now on chaps” — how often had this caused us to inwardly revile the indominitable happiness of our leader after this always well-meant but sometimes misleading statement — due again to the map.

After a descent of some 1000′ or so, we were with the river once more. this occasioned an “Ode” before proceeding. We threaded in and out of boulders & then up on to the gently sloping banks, chundering down through bracken in the first good walking we’d had until a suitable lunch spot appeared. Preparations for the drastic process of bathing were taken. This had been let slide of late, but, deciding tht the river was older & couldn’t be colder (than upstream). So much for science! Five purple people emerged & in the words of a poet, since forgotten — “that river’s b—-y cold.” Needless to say we were not enticed to further extravagance at a later date.

By now the rye was rather dry — but it did & after swallowing it in hard (gulp) pellets & crumbs we snoozed to Col’s music. Beyond lay a somewhat scrungy walk. The river doubled back a lot, & each time we were on the fast side here we had to take to the hills for which the country was not congenial. The most memorable of these scrunges was one which consisted of (a) a small but potent ascent over a heterogeny of mud, boulders & raspberries (b) contouring through some beaut springy scrunge at an angle of about 50^o. The net result a flaying & “contour ankles” which persisted for as long as we followed the river (always on the same contour). Meanwhile the other side was perfect. O for levitation! Hereabouts the seditious anti-Woila doctrine again appeared.

After this scrunge we found our first traces of those amiable animals, the cows, & proceeded to worship — complete with a new “Ode”. Now more ~~~~ for river bends & another nice flat, but Col had a hot scent of Woila so we pushed on, passing 3 heifers.

We chose a beautiful spot that night. A flood-combed grass hatch about 6″ above & 3 ft from the river. This made water collection pure heaven & we all cleaned our teeth. We had a merry night. Barb burnt her shorts & Pop was shot when Someone (who?) let a torch battery roll into the fire — he looked like a nigger minstrel when the carbon rod had done its job. As usual our good companions were Rum, rum & milk, Rum & lemon, brandy — all getting low. The music was superlative & Dave added his “Good King Wenceslas” to the usual fare.

Wednesday 29

After about an hour or so, the morn gave us Woila — thus refuting the postulate of its nonexistence. It was deep & fast & we were preparing a staff for fording when David discovered a log which was well received — here numerous slides were taken, as usual, by David, Dave, & Liz — some of which came near to being superlative motion shots.

We had thought our troubles over, but were mistaken. After some good country beyond Woila we espied a dish of a short gorge up ahead, & Col proposed a route would reunite us with the river across a saddle — it did. (We couldn’t see which way the River was flowing & so Dave went down & had a look.) The view from the top looked evil. The river stretched beyond our view & ken in a diabolical set of twists & turns & loops — the loops, promising more than 2 days walking. Then we continued on to lunch at a creek. The rye was now in a state of weathering.

Our leader decided we hadn’t an earthly chance of reaching (Euro)Bodalla, & after lunch we moved up the ridge, intending to strike the Belowra station road to Eurobodalla. There was a good bit of UP involved in this plan (“This walk will be all downhill, chaps”) — but the views were among the most magnificent we had & almost well worth the climb. At long weary last extra summit was attained — the view here was in two 180^o installments & embraced the whole Tuross–Kybean Range–Belowra area — Tuross to the right, Belowra to the left. Belowra is a very beautiful property indeed. The Tuross showed herself in her true rugged colours as well. On this summit was a cairn. In that cairn now is an M&B tin with a card about us, our route & what date we thought it was.

Hence we found a series of blazes on trees along a great flat ridge — they were horse high & very prominent, but we still don’t know their purpose. These we followed till we went up or they went ? At the summit of the last UP we could see the road, O Joy! We chundered down in a great rush on the ridge. By way of celebration it poured, ceasing only when all was dripping wet. We chose a beaut campsite & drew our water from the creek that didn’t have a dead sheep in it. A very merry night was spent — Dave accidentally had his share of the rum ration & gave us the best (?) of Tom Lehrer. All slept well.

Thursday 30

This happy morn we set off across the fields to the road — about 1/2-3/4 mile & never before (or since) have fences looked so nice!

The road was followed, firstly with joy (ie it was a lovely road etc). But beyond the 3 mile limit it began to pall.Then came a cute wooden bridge across some unnamed tributary at which an interesting “Pied Piker” slide was taken & where we had morning tea — after this we felt reprieved for a while & then morale began to falter again, aided by a huge hunk of mountain whose peak played hide and seek with us for a heck of a time. Lunch was had at a temporary flattening of the road & it looked as though the green gulley 200′ below had H2O — no such luck! The desperate tannin addicts concocted a wicked brew with puddle water — it was good not to be one that afternoon.


Above – The party crossing the bridge over Belowra Creek. Lto R – Colin Oloman, Max Eden, Dave Dash, Carol Mills, Barbara Darmanin, Elizabeth Hinton. Photo – David and Barbara Darmanin.

All afternoon we “heard” cars approaching, but nary a one arrived. This was especially felt on the second leg of the hill when some were inwardly cursing those who had breath to waste on such frivolities as music. The final top was reached & it was, at long last, truly “all downhill from here, chaps.” In this region we saw the sea & all fell down (ostensibly to worship it but actually to rest our aching, road-bashed dogs). Here we thought of the horrible possibility of walking to Bodalla by road. It didn’t bear thinking for long. From our eyrie, Montague Island could be seen in the dim haze. Nostalgia for the sea was fast enveloping.

Views over we started down, down & DOWN! By now we had covered about 10 or so miles of road & each had a few private pounds of tenderised meat — true equality.

With the down, morale went up. We were aiming for G… Creek (the trig above was called that, too) & it was only a few miles distant so we walked with a will. The road, (which was exceptionally good & expensive for the area it served) now passed through reams of stinging trees which would have proven a major walking catastrophe off it. Below them Dave found an old Resche’s box which set Pop and Col frantically drooling — then we saw A Building — probably a sawmill connected to the extensive logging operations we had seen along the road. Then we saw an obviously well used church with the mass times on the door. Then a general store — the storekeeper saw us coming and opened up. According to our map, this place didn’t exist & so ensued:

Col (to storekeeper) — Where are we?

S.K. (con triumplo) — You’re in Nerrigundah

Us — Oh; where’s that?

S.K. (slightly affronted — 12 miles from Bodalla

Us — ecstacy.

This place, we learnt, is an old goldmining settlement of 18 (I think) pubs. It seemed to be a hotbed of Irish too — Hennessy (S.K.), O’Toole, O’Grady & Murphy. We gave the store turnover a big boost. The store was very old and thrilling, with 5 day-old papers. We bought lumes goods for a feast. I decided to ring my parents in Cooma to allay any of their fears. The phone here was a squarish wooden box like this:


— very odd and disconcerting to those who who usually pit their strength against Button A & Button B.

After a natter with Mr Hennessy & some good advice on how not to fall into mineshafts, we set up camp beside Ye Olde Swimmin’ Hole — but it didn’t function as such during our sojourn (shame!) We scrunged fence posts & planks from here & there & had a beaut fire that evening, with our banquet, & the last of our grog. Eventually all hit the sack on this soft ground.

Friday 31

Arose before dawn (6-6.30) in order to leave at 8 with the mailman. Col rose late & went straight back to bed — David had turned traitor! He had shaven! The other 3 went back to Sydney hairy. The mailman took all 7 + packs & mail in one poor Holden.

He took us right to Bodalla & en route we saw the Tuross (now grown up & well-behaved) & the “town” of Eurobodalla (1 P.O.).The mailman told us all the local gossip & we all discussed floods, crops, peas, aborigines, schools, cheese, blackwattle bark, pigs, & how each person we met was related to the mailman. The people out there are very trusting — just leave money and cheques loose in the roadboxes for the mailman.

We arrived at Bodalla & paid the man our 6/- per head (usually 7) & made for the Chez Nience for cheese & a milk shake. We then had a magnificent repast of fresh bread & Bodalla cheese. Col owed us as a group 10/- & so we made for the Bodalla Arms, the bar being very pleasant except for the calendar collection; there were other decorations too.

Here ended a right good walk.

Song of the Turossians*

(Tune:- Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Finale)

We came down from Courtegenay
For the mighty Tuross bound,
Thought that we would cross this river,
Far too bloody cold, we found
But we saw the waters falling,
Saw the canyon deep and wide;
Now you’ll hear us our song singing
On some distant mountainside.

*Courtesy of Col — ie he made the words up