Mummaga Lake and Brou Area

Wednesday 12 August 2020

Photos courtesy of Brian, Chris and Karen

Bushwalking is a great all year round activity, supporting both physical and mental exercise. And today, thirteen of us got our fair share of exercise, with plenty of mental stimulation (lots of talking!) and a feeling of wellbeing on completing the 13kms Mummaga Lake and Brou Area walk.

After the wet windy weather of the weekend, everyone was keen to get back on the trails and while some areas of the tracks and bush were soggy and larger bodies of water had to be detoured, it was surprisingly pretty dry under foot.

The first part of the walk followed the signposted Mummaga Lake walk from the Bodalla Park Rest Area off the Princes Highway.  While there is plenty of water in Mummaga Lake, it was pretty brown due to the recent run off from the heavy rains on the weekend.  Eventually the walkers diverted from the marked track and used fire trails and old indistinct bush tracks to head north to Brou Lake.  There were a few sprinkles of rain mid morning, but the group ignored it and continued on and were rewarded with rare views of the water in Brou Lake being very low.  General consensus was that the lake had opened to the sea.

The group followed Brou Lake around to the point where it had indeed opened to the sea and decided to take advantage of a lovely dry grassy spot overlooking the beach, for a well-earned lunch break.

The walk continued south, parallel to the beach, where some early wildflowers were spotted and two swamp wallabies.

The final few kilometres were back along the Brou Lake Road which for a weekday had quite a few vehicles using it, then on trails through the bush to the Bodalla Park Rest Area.

A good walk to get the body and mind active, while still easily able to observe social distancing rules.

Gay

East Nelligen Circuit

Thursday 6 August 2020

Photos courtesy of Karen

Sixteen Batemans Bay bushwalkers formed a very large circle at the “Sunlit Waters” turn off, in compliance with social distancing. Mary had to use her loudest voice to be heard by all as she read out the COVID -19 requirements for walkers,  prior to commencing the hike.

The morning was crisp but sunny as the group strode along Sheep Station Road before turning up hill and onto a fire trail.

Everywhere walkers were confronted with signs of the havoc of the recent fires but, there was also abundant regeneration commencing along with the sounds of birds. It was uplifting to see how resilient our wonderful bushland can be. There were also areas still wet after recent rains and water in the small creek that hikers crossed on their 6.5 kilometre circuit.

Walkers paused at the top of a hill to take in views westward to the mountains. These views will eventually be obscured once nature has had  more time for regrowth.  Everyone felt the joy & rejuvenation that fresh air & exercise can bring.

It was a short walk that finished at lunch time so, some club members drove to the Clyde River picnic area at Nelligen to eat their sandwiches & enjoy more sunshine.

Thank you to Mary and Stan for such a lovely outing.

Denise

Bolaro Slabs and Boulders

Thursday 6 August 2020

 

Photos courtesy of Ian, Barry and Philip

It has been a few years since we last sampled the delights of Bolaro Mountain’s granite tors.  Walking such areas is now much easier than before the recent bushfires which have almost eliminated the understorey.  So now was the time to traverse the most spectacular parts of Bolaro’s huge boulders and slabs.

On this day the weather was perfect – sunny, mild, no wind.  Due to Corona19 restrictions, many of us have not been walking so we looked forward to an enjoyable day.  Unfortunately, it was not to be for 2 of our 8 starters due to a sprained ankle (the victim was efficiently “retired” from the field to head home and is now happily recuperating).

Following recovery actions, we resumed our journey to the first of the large boulders, probably the largest on the mountain complex.  High, near the ridgetop, this sentinel can even be seen on satellite images.  It is perched on the top edge of a particularly large sloping slab of solid rock, accentuating its size and prominence.  It even has a mate, large in its own right but dwarfed by the star of the show.

We moved on, and upwards, moving out of pure Spotted Gum into Maidens Gum and White Stringybark country and through rock – lots of rock.  It was a slow, exhausting 400 metre elevational slog straight up the mountain, skirting yet another hectare sized granite slab.

Although the bushfire had removed what little understory is normally in this forest, the loose rock underfoot, and the fallen Spotted Gum bark hiding the ground surface, made progress slow.  Where possible, we “slabbed”, avoiding the few wet lines where water exuded from rock cracks.

When we reached our lunch destination we were sweating from our exertions but the lunch rock perch overlooking the slab was worth it – uninterrupted views to Pigeon House and The Castle.  In the sun, and the peace and quiet, it was a suitable resting place for a well earned snack.

Traversing westward on the edge of the boulder dropoff we eventually found the only cliff marked on the old contour maps.  Cliffs are rare on rounded granite batholiths so, as expected, this was more of a series of large overhanging boulders but very interesting nonetheless.

It was time to return.  A long gradual descent on unstable scree material, avoiding boulders and small ever present slabs, brought us to yet another very large boulder, surrounded by the remains of vines and other undergrowth.  Its hairy fringe of rock lilies was looking rather the worse for wear from the wildfire which, in hours, ran rampant from here to the coast on New Year’s Eve.

On our exit route we visited the last feature of interest, arguably the largest rock slab on the mountain.  It is a huge three hectare swath of mother earth, gently sloping in a slow curve to the sunny north, in streaky greys and whites as its broad expanse gradually steepens to an abrupt base in the Spotted Gums and Burrawangs.  A few lonely scorched figs, now recovering from fire, were the only adornment on its upper slopes.

As the sun began its winter descent to our left we headed to the cars, weary and a little foot sore, but having enjoyed a beautiful day in the best of Bolaro’s wonderful granite rockfields.

Ian

Big Hole / Marble Arch

Thursday 23 July 2020

Photos courtesy of Barry, Brian, Mary, Tom, Erika and Philip

After meeting in Braidwood on a cold foggy morning, the group drove in convoy to the walk start at Berlang Campground in the Deua National Park.

About 250m into the walk everyone had to change their shoes and wade through the icy cold, calf deep water of the Shoalhaven River. After changing back to our walking shoes, we continued on through a rolling heathland of Allocasuarina nana and then downhill to the huge open chasm known as the Big Hole. We stopped at the Big Hole viewing platform for morning tea.

Following morning tea we walked a little further downhill to where the track meandered over fairly flat terrain through dry eucalypt open forest. One large area of forest had many large fallen trees, all uprooted and fallen in the same direction. We assumed this extensive damage resulted from a not very recent storm event.  Most of the fallen trees were long dead but quite a few, whose roots had remained connected to the earth, had shot up again along the trunk, to live on.

After a while we reached the top of the spur that lead down into Reedy Creek gully. All walkers descended the steep track down until we reached a rocky fern lined area just upstream from the Marble Arch cavern. At this point we split into two groups. Those who wished to proceed through the tunnel/arch out into the slot canyon and then climb up the extremely steep hill on the other side, and those who wished to return to the top of the spur and wait for the other group. Six walkers chose to proceed and climb out the other side and seven walked back to the top of the spur to wait.

The group continuing through the tunnel took time to look at the marbled rock and the small dripping stalactite formations and then scrambled over slippery rocks until we reached a series of water filled pools. Once again we had to change our shoes and wade through icy cold water above our knees. Torchlight was required for a short section of the tunnel.

Once out into the slot canyon we were uncertain about the best route to take up the steep hill. The first route that two of us took was found to be very difficult, so the other four opted for a different route. However both routes were extremely steep with very few hand holds, loose ground and slippery surfaces that often required climbing on hands and knees. Closer to the top of the hill we bush bashed our way back to the formed track and walked back up to re-join the waiting group.

Getting through the slot canyon and climbing out took longer than anticipated which left the other group waiting for a long time. They had long since finished lunch so we quickly ate ours and all of us retraced our steps back to the start at Berlang Campground. Of course we had to wade through the icy cold water of the Shoalhaven River again, just before the walk finish.

Philip

 

Tarourga Lake Jemisons Point Walk

Saturday 18 July 2020

Photos courtesy of Brian and Mary

A fresh, clear morning saw twelve walkers assemble at the riverside meeting place in Moruya. Boots were uncharacteristically clean and hiking clothes were a bit dusty from lack of use but eyes were bright with anticipation because this was to be the first club walk in several months.

After signing on (each with his/her own pen), Walk Leader Rodney adopted his most solemn tone and invoked the warnings of our political leaders in saying that there was to be “no mingling, no singing, no dancing and especially no whinging”. (We think the last one might have been Rodney’s own addition…)

After a 30 minute drive south, the walk was soon underway. We followed the track beside Potato Point Road for a short while before turning off onto a fire trail that led us deep into the forest. This was what most of us had been waiting for – tall timber, Burrawangs recovering quickly from the fires and the distinctive sounds and smells of the Bush. The leader’s promise of a few steepish hills proved to be true but any complaints were muttered under the breath (we had been warned) and morning tea was enough to keep the troops under control.

In what seemed no time we emerged from the shadow of the forest into the bright light of Brou Beach and an entirely different collection of sights, sounds and smells.

The easy beach walk north, accompanied by a thundering surf, took us to Jemisons Point, where luncheon was served and from where we enjoyed wonderful views of Gulaga, Montague Island and the completely empty beach stretching up to Kianga and Dalmeny. After lunch, it was a socially-distanced stroll back to the cars and walk’s end.

Our grateful thanks go to Rodney for his steady, good-humoured leading.

Brian

Members’ Memories & Photos of Valerie Harris

Here is a collection of individual members’ memories and photos of Val.  The most recent posts appear at the top of the page.

Bob Thurbon & Elaine Edwards

Valerie was an old friend of Elaine’s from when she was an instructor for Elaine’s kids at the pony club.

E and me met because Valerie and I were chatting at the 2012 Xmas party at Goldfields, when Elaine walked in the nearby door, and Valerie invited her to join us.    We clicked, and feel indebted to her for that.

Though I feel sadness at the sudden loss of Valerie, I feel more that we were privileged to have shared some time and experiences with such a remarkable and charming person.

She certainly had style and grace, and I will treasure our visits with her to many beautiful places in the bush.

I am pleased that my photo of her at the remarkable spa pools, where I gave her the title of “Queen of the Bush” is now in her tributes on the website.   Many will celebrate her life and her magic.

So many good things have come from the Bush Walkers.   I hope we can resume activities soon.

 

Mary Taylor

Valerie and the Budawangs:  I have enjoyed many adventures and happy days and nights on the tracks with Val over a number of years. She introduced me to her ‘bush’ and made me an enthusiastic bush walker.

The first is walking in the Budawangs and realising that night and darkness  would soon be upon us. We were walking along a good track that looked suspiciously to me as if it could well lead to a private property. Val declared that we should ‘camp’, which meant sleeping in our sleeping bags in the open on the track. My concerns that maybe a vehicle could drive along the track in the dark were met by a reassurance from Val that couldn’t possibly happen. As it turned out no vehicle ran over us in the night and apart from a light fall of rain, we spent an uneventful night, if not a particularly comfortable one under the night sky.

 

Helen & Martin Ransom

It was during our first bushwalking camp to Bendethera in 2006 that that we first met Valerie.  Up until then we had only heard of her bushwalking prowess, particularly for the harder more remote tracks and pack walks.  On that camp she was one of the first to lower herself on the rope to descend into the main cave at Bendethera and she happily waded through thigh deep water in the Deua river as we followed our leader, Len.

We decided, during our ascent of Mount Gower on Lord Howe Island in 2008, that at 76 Valerie was probably one of the oldest people to have conquered the climb for that most fabulous view – see the photo following as she again hangs onto a rope to begin the descent.

Never one to miss an adventure, and as part of the BBBW group in 2018, Valerie snorkelled in the Ningaloo waters off WA to see a whale shark, see the photo from the dive company as Valerie, with the pink flippers follows the rope back to the boat.

A true legend of the Club.

 

Denise Strickland

These photos, especially the group photo, show that Val was an active and loved part of our Club right up until the COVID break.  She in turn enjoyed walking and the friendships that she made over the years. She will certainly be missed.

 

Rob Lees

When I think of the term ‘ strong competent woman’ I see an image of Val Harris. I only hope that when I reach my late 80’s I will be doing the same hiking activities she was enjoying right up to the end. I had the pleasure of attending many of Val’s hikes to the gold mines in the foothill ranges. They were always in challenging terrain, inevitably including a few good hills and always ending at an interesting feature, be it an old gold mine or waterfall.  Val knew how to lead an interesting walk.

Val attended a camp I led in 2018 to the Karijini in Western Australia. Even with temperatures in the 30’s, across jagged terrain with little shade and camping on truly hard rocky ground Val was out there enjoying herself. She hiked down into the steep gorges of the billion year old rocks of the Karijini with the strength and determination we have come to know from Val.

Never one to shy away from a new challenge we have photographic proof of Val swimming with whale sharks on the Ningaloo Reef. The charter boat crew were very surprised when they heard how old Val was and claimed she holds the title of the oldest client they have ever taken out for a blue water dive. We weren’t surprised as we expected nothing less from this strong competent woman.

Val will be missed out on the trails but her legacy will endure as we have GPS mapped many of her walks and can thank her in the years to come.

 

Pat Retter

I feel devastated at Val’s passing.  We were close friends and usually talked on the phone one or more times a week.

Our friendship went back to the start of the Club and she often led two walks on every program until others stepped up to contribute as well.  Val introduced some of the Club members to back-packing, including me, also in the early days of the Club.  Many happy exploratories were had in the Budawangs..  The Budawangs were her specialty,  and she continued doing back-packs as long as she could – the last just a few years ago under the care and leadership of Ian Barnes.

Val and I spent a month trekking with a small group in Nepal, up almost to Kalar Patar from down at Jiri Jiri in year 2000.  Quite a trip.

Tasmania was another favourite of hers and did the Overland Track together in 1998, and she had many enjoyable trips to Tasmania, the last one on her own and sleeping in her Troopy along the way.

Val was always thinking up where to lead walks which continued until retiring from being a walk-leader last year.   Naturally by then her walks had changed from being hard to easy ones – but never mind she was out there doing it.

I’m sure all who knew her will miss her very much, and extend their sympathy to Va’ls “family” of Vicky and Caddy.

Rest easy Val, we shall all miss you.

 

Mary & Stan Marchant

The memory of Val’s indomitable spirit, all the bush walks we have shared, and her warm generous personality is her parting gift to us all.

 

Sharon Macdonald

Val, along with Betty, taught me heaps about Bushwalking and especially Backpacking. A great mentor and role model, strong, independent, intrepid and of course, forever elegant. Even wading through water up to her armpits, Val glided along with her scarf casually slung around her swan neck.

Here are some photos of Val, along with our other National Treasure, walking in the Cinque Terre in 2011 on a Italian walking trip she had organised for four of us.  So sad, but so lucky to have known her.

 

Erika & Philip Cleaver

Memories from the Western Australian Camp in 2018

 

Christine & Brian Mercer

Some memories on the track with the Mercers

 

Donna Garten

I was fortunate to walk with Val, albeit in her latter years, which was probably a blessing because it meant that I could keep up with her!  However, it would have been quite the experience to have shared a pack walk with the great lady, something that wasn’t to be.  Last year I attended my first ever pack walk and turned to both Val and Betty for some very sage advice.  We had a chat about what gear to take, what not to take and we also discussed food options.  I went away from that particular walk with many of Val’s wise tips running through my head.  Then, two days later, she rang me at home, ‘Donna, there was something else I had to tell you, it’s very important.  Keep your toilet paper dry, put it in a plastic bag.’  Val went on to tell me that she had been on a pack walk and had the unfortunate experience of getting her one and only roll of toilet paper wet whilst crossing a river.  She spent that night walking the fine line of drying her toilet paper to an acceptable level without setting fire to the whole roll.  We had a laugh and I assured Val I would put my toilet paper in a plastic bag, which I did do.  Thanks for the memories Val.  Keep on hiking.

One of my favourite shots of Val taken in the Monga in early 2019

 

Donna Franklin

I remember on my very first walk with the Club whoever drove me to the walk told me to avoid any walks led by Val or Betty (I wrote down their names on my program so I would remember) as they were too difficult!  Of course in time I rose to the challenge of Val’s wonderful walks and will always be indebted to her for sharing some of her favourite places.  A great friend and an amazing bushwalker who will be missed and remembered – it’s hard to grasp she is gone.

Here are some more photos.  I especially love the last one, taken at Bright – 86 and still shimmying down rock chimneys – what a legend.

and on the Larapinta Trail in the West Macdonnell Ranges near Alice Springs with Kay and I …

 

Ainslie Morris & Mike Reynolds

What sad news!  We have many happy memories of walks and overseas trips with Val, and will miss her.

 

Joan & Bob Barrass

For the last half hour we’ve been looking at every bushwalking photo for the last many years of camps and walks and realise how lucky we are to have so many happy memories.  Here are two photos of Val from our collection.  We will never forget her.

 

Mary Taylor

Photos from Valerie’s walk on the Overland Track in Tasmania with me in 2007

 

Tribute to Valerie Harris : 7 September 1931 – 24 May 2020

Dear Members,

Batemans Bay Bushwalkers’ tribute to Valerie appears below.  If you wish to publish your own memories or photos of Valerie to our website, please email them to karenmaclatchy@bigpond.com and we will post them to our Member’s Tribute Wall.

1992 Valerie Harris in Sugarloaf Creek

It is with deep sadness that we farewell Valerie Harris who passed away at 2100 hours on Sunday 24 May 2020.  We have lost a great bushwalker, leader and friend.

Valerie was a unique member of Batemans Bay Bushwalkers, the only member to have walked with the Club throughout our entire 35 year history.  She was there in 1985 at the very first meeting held to garner expressions of interest for a bushwalking group in the Batemans Bay area, when she volunteered to lead 2 of the first 4 walks arranged at that meeting.  Val’s last walk was in March this year at Maloneys Beach just before the COVID-19 pause.  She was a prolific and passionate walk leader and up until she broke her pelvis a few years ago, she led at least 4 walks every year, sometimes more.

I first met Valerie 16 years ago (she was a mere 72 years old), when I signed up to join her on a Hard/Exploratory walk in the Turtle Creek area, off No Name Firetrail in Monga National Park.  I found myself in a deep, narrow creek gorge where we eventually had to scale the high vertical walls to access the ridge Val wanted to find.  I remember clinging by my fingernails to this rockface, seriously out of my comfort zone.  We did get out of the gorge, and bashed up to the ridge, down the other side, and to finish, walked up the steepest gravel firetrail I may have ever seen.  Since then I’ve followed Val down into Sugarloaf Creek on the Clyde Mountain where the going was so rough my watch was torn off my wrist; plunged off the steep side of Misty Mountain Road through thick rainforest and lawyer vines to find the Buckenbowra River in the valley below, and then back up the hill again; and into the Budawangs where we battled our way through trackless hakea scrub.

I suspect most everyone who has walked with Valerie has had similar experiences.  She led many easier walks as well, but was renowned for her hard, and mostly exploratory excursions into the remote wilderness.  She loved every moment of those walks, and she loved showing them to her faithful followers.  And we just kept turning up for more – for the chance to experience more challenges, and more adventures to hidden bush treasures in the company of this vibrant, capable woman.

Over the last 10 years, Valerie has been sharing her walks with other leaders, so that today we can still enjoy the backcountry walks she so loved.  To name just a few, we have mapped her walk into the Strangler Fig on Durras Mountain; the Durras Mountain old farm track walk;  her Carters Creek and Sugarloaf Creek walks; and her Bimberamala Mine and Black Diamond Currowan Mine walks.  Every time we create a new map for the Club from one of Val’s walks we marvel how she navigated the bush so well without a GPS to create such challenging and interesting routes.  She has left us with an enduring legacy to enjoy for generations to come.

Valerie led many a backpack through the Budawangs before retiring her pack in 2015.  Her last packwalk was into the Ettrema Gorge in Morton National Park west of Nowra, led by Ian Barnes.  Ian’s purpose was not only to explore the area, but also as a tribute to Valerie and Betty who had visited Ettrema years ago and wished to revisit it in their elder years.  This is not a walk for the faint hearted, mostly trackless in steep rocky country, with a lot of creek wading – Valerie was 83 at the time.

Farewell Valerie, you will long be remembered, admired and appreciated by those who have travelled with you to the wild and beautiful places.

Karen MacLatchy on behalf of Batemans Bay Bushwalkers

 

The early years …

The 2000’s …

Most recently …

END

Water way to go for Bay’s bushwalkers

Wednesday 20 May 2020 – Article published in the Bay Post / Moruya Examiner

Batemans Bay Bushwalkers have about 200 members that love bushwalking with a number that like to explore the region on water.

The Eurobodalla coast has a number of estuaries, creeks and slow flowing rivers that are ideal for exploring with a canoe or kayak.

Generally the group goes out for a paddle about twice a month, with members providing their own craft and mandatory life vests.

On the first paddle for 2020 in February 2020 saw the group launched at Durras Lake boat ramp early in the morning when the normally busy lake was still calm and winds were almost absent.

Nearly all the margins of the lake have been fire affected and recent rains have seen the water level rise dramatically, however the lake is still closed to the ocean.

Fortunately Durras Lake is in the Marine Park and is not closed.  The group were able to skirt the northern burned shore and paddle quite far up the flooded creek at the back of North Durras.

The paddlers saw Burrawangs sprouting in the fire zone and it was obvious that the forest was beginning its regeneration.

The final paddle back to the ramp included exploring the flooded wetlands near Durras Village, before an increasingly strenuous paddle into a rising headwind took the paddlers back to the ramp.

The walks program is presently suspended due to coronavirus and members look forward to the day when their program can resume.

Report adapted by the Bay Post. Original report by Rodney and Gay.

 

Batemans Bay Bushwalkers take a trip to Broulee Island 33 years ago

Sunday 3 May 2020 – Following article published in the Bay Post Online edition

As the coronavirus keeps everyone at home, the Batemans Bay Bushwalkers have been reminiscing about walks from years ago (story written by Jeanne Medicott, Bay Post incorporating information provided by Karen and Gay)

This week heralds 33 years since the bushwalkers undertook a hike to Broulee Island at a time when the island could only be accessed by boat and the logistics involved in getting there were time consuming.

“Ron Thompson brought his rubber-duck around from Tomakin and then spent the next three to four hours ferrying the 52 walkers across to the island and back again,” a spokesperson for the walkers said.  “The walkers were surprised at how deep the channel was between the island and Broulee Headland.”

These days walkers don’t need a boat to access Broulee Island and for Batemans Bay Bushwalkers it continues to be a popular walk.

Once on the island the walkers climbed a steep overgrown track to the top of the cliff where they visited the old grave located there. The grave is that of Elizabeth Maleber who passed away on June 27, 1842 aged 45.

Elizabeth and her husband Abraham Maleber lived on a property on the Moruya river where Abraham made a living transporting goods along the Moruya River and on occasion to Broulee.

Elizabeth’s grave is said to be one of the oldest known graves in the entire south coast region.

After visiting the old grave the walkers made their way to the northern side of the island and inspected the ruins of the old jetty.

Back in the 1840’s, Broulee was the only port between Wollongong and Twofold Bay and up to six sailing ships a day could be anchored in Broulee harbour, however all that remains of the old jetty today is four posts sticking out of the sand and one steel railway track projecting onto the beach.

For more information on Batemans Bay Bushwalking Club and their walks, please visit www.baybushwalkers.org.au

Club winds back clock during shutdown

Wednesday 22 April 2020 – Following Article published in the Bay Post

 

Making the most of the shutdown, the Batemans Bay Bushwalkers have been looking back over their old records and thought it would be fun to share with readers.

The Club started in June 1985 and will this year be celebrating 35 years of walking.

The Club’s second walk in June 1985 was to the summit of Mt Dromedary, then part of Bodalla State Forest.  Mt Dromedary was officially handed over to Yuin ownership and management in 2006 and renamed Gulaga, now situated in the Gulaga National Park.  The mountain was originally an active volcano, thought to be 3 km high.  It has eroded over millions of years to 806 m high.

The 11 km (return) Gulaga walk has something for everyone, for example –  the tors are the remains of the hardest granite left behind after the mountain eroded to its current height and the rainforest tucked under the summit of the mountain, where the rare pinkwood tree grows and flowers in late February.

The mountain was also the scene of frantic activity from the 1860s to the 1920s when alluvial gold was discovered and mined. Relics such as a stamper battery and foundations of a miner’s residence can be discovered amongst the dense bush.

To the Yuin people, Gulaga is known as the Mother Mountain, and has always been a woman’s place. It includes sacred sites where Aboriginal women would retreat for storytelling, ceremony and childbirth.

The summit itself is disappointing because views are blocked by tall trees.  However, there are views from several spots along the walk track.

Although the mountain was not burned in the 2019/2020 bushfires, the Gulaga National Park is currently closed to visitors while NPWS conducts ground and aerial pest control programs as part of the bush fire recovery.

The Batemans Bay Bushwalkers are looking forward to the day when they can walk to the summit of Gulaga again.

Karen and Gay