by Chris Cosgrove
This was one of SUBW’s classic trips of ’75 – plenty of Mountain Holly, steep passes and beer! The route was a direct crossing of the Wollangambe Wilderness from Mt. Irvine to the Newnes pub via Colo/Wollangambe junction, Mt. Mistake and Bull Ring creek. Present were Chris Cosgrove, Ross Bradstock, Ian Hickson, Dave Noble, _____ and Keith Maxwell.
DAY 1 : A late start from Mt. Irvine after attending a Launceston Walking Club film night on SW Tassie. This film night had one disastrous consequence – everybody was supposed to buy a bottle of rum but only one person (yours truly) had the foresight to go to the pub before the films. Anyhow, five of us (I.H. not with us yet) set off north over the Tesselated Pavements along the ridge separating Wollangambe Creek from Bowens Creek. We had only got halfway or so due to a disgusting display of slackness by every member present. It seemed that shoelaces kept coming undone and this was ample reason for everybody to chuck off their heavy packs and have half an hours bludge. That night was spent sleeping under the stars on a flat sandstone slab beside a rock pool.
DAY 2 : A similar degree of slackness was again demonstrated. The ridge improved towards the end with some Mountain Holly, deadstick and Prickly Moses. This last stuff is really sensual – it is a brittle vine covered in long thorns which break off in segments and get inside ones shirt and behind ones pack. We had lunch on the end of the ridge at the edge of a 700 ft (please forgive the Old Mole’s exaggeration factor) cliff which plunges directly into Wollangambe Creek. This spectacular situation inspired several people to go and have a crap.
The next problem was a most precipitous descent into the junction of Wollangambe and Bowens creeks. we expected to meet Ian here after a fast and easy walk in from Mt. Tootie. After much calling out (not the usual “dayo” jazz but stuff like “we got a case of tinnies”) we decided he was lost and made camp at a beautiful beach about a mile downstream. Just on dusk, Ian turned up looking as though he bashed five miles of Bowens creek instead of three quarters, and in fact he had. The sketch map of the fire trails issuing from Mt. Tootie which I drew up for him had one pathetic little pissfart fire trail not marked. He went that way.
Fire wood was no problem in Wollangambe Creek. It was obtained by reaching up for loose driftwood in the trees – the result of two 40 ft floods in the past year and a bit.
DAY 3 : A pleasant bash down to the Colo for an early lunch. There is a very spectacular gorge along this section. Some large still pools are separated by rough bouldery rapids. Unfortunately, The thick vines and other scunge which used to grow amoung these boulders was rather thoroughly obliterated by the aforementioned floods.
After lunch, we filled our half gallon water bottles for the long dry spell to follow. We climbed out up Buck route 25 to the ridge leading to the Maiden. The views from route 25 are spectacular in the extreme. Directly opposite is the 1000 ft face of the Island, near the foot of which flows the mighty Colo River. As soon as the last rocky problem was dealt with we changed clothes, On with long pants, long sleeve shirt and scrub gloves, the uniform for the next 20 miles. The first 3 miles to the Maiden were the worst. Considerable entertainment was provided by an evil array of tall scunge, vines with and without thorns and deadstick, Camp was made on the summit of the Maiden (that’s knocking the bitch off properly). Six groundsheets were laid in various places in the scunge.
DAY 4: A long hard day with an early start. Each member of the party took a half hour lead (except _____ who piked). The scunge was variable. In some places it was thick Mountain Holly, in others it was thick something else. We found water in a non-perennial creek about mid-morning. Lunch on Mt. Mistake in the middle of buggery. Good view into Mayook Creek. A log book was placed on the summit with the national anthem on the inside cover (since removed). The afternoon’s bash took us to the twin peaks of Limit Hill. One section along here was an almost pure stand of Mountain Holly about 12 feet high – lovely! We camped on the eastern summit of Limit Hill and filled water bags from a non-perennial a few hundred feet down one side.
DAY 5: More ridge bashing but the scrub was less evil (good). The route lay over Pommel Hill (extensive views to the north), Permanent Water (early lunch), sidled Tambo Limb and then north towards the Wolgan. We were bashing through this last stretch of scunge on the advice of Dave who reckoned there was a steep route down into Bull Ring Creek off the end. This was to be named Bull Ring Pass if it went and Noballs Pass if it didn’t (c.f. Noballs Canyon elsewhere in this publication). It went OK down to the last high and sustained cliffline. There Ian and I sat on top of an overhang (which we wouldn’t have done if we could see what was under it) and watched the other four fart arse around along the edge. There was only one tiny bit of cliffline not in view and this was where Keith and Dave were concentrating their efforts. After some time they emerged with the news that it probably would go. So down we went and what a classic pass it turned out to be. First a chimney, then a layback, then a steep scramble down a gully, then a 60 foot hand over hand, then finished off with an exposed traverse. We had late afternoon tea in Bull Ring Creek at the top of of a waterfall. It was then an easy bash down to the junction of the Wolgan River and Annie Rowan Creek.
DAY 6: A 14 mile fast walk to the pub through the magnificent Wolgan Valley. The walking pace started off fairly fast and got very fast, finally breaking into a run as the pub came into view.
EPILOGUE: Well, Ross and I got there first and managed to get half a bottle down before Ian appeared. You see, Ian hates head starts – it is against tradition. We were hoping to get canned beer but the shipment had not yet arrived. Earlier, we were being lectured by Noballs on the virtues of bottled beer. For instance, he claims never to have chundered on bottled beer. The first four shouts were the full complement of six bottles each plus potato chips. But then Keith and _____ piked. (Keith may be excused on the grounds of a stomach ulcer). Many bawdy songs were sung and Keith did his famous rendition of Samuel Hall. After two more shouts, it got dark and we moved inside into the bar. Noballs, with severely slurred speech, got the publican Jim Gale to bring out his old photos and maps of Newnes. Soon after, Noballs was unconscious with his head across a table.
Anyhow there were still three stayers. The seventh and eighth shouts were less expensive than before. During this time a distinctive sound came from Noballs direction, a sound to become familiar on later trips – the sound of chundering without regaining consciousness. He was written off. The ninth and final shout was one bottle between three. At that we called it a night and slept beside the road on a grassy flat just up from the pub.
In the morning the 39 bottles were still on the table outside the pub. Dave thanked us for putting him into his sleeping bag. But we hadn’t. He put himself in it. Nobody had a hangover except poor ol’ Dave. He was stuffed. Even fizz wouldn’t fix him. Finally we set off up the road towards Lithgow. After a few chunder stops, a cattle truck picked us all up and took us into Lithgow. There we stuffed our faces with grease, finishing the trip in great style. We asked Dave if he was going to give up drinking now. His answer – “Never!”