Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Dunphy Wilderness Walk; recent haiku


Photos by David Noble (Copyright)

In late September, it was one hundred years since Myles Dunphy and Bert Gallop had set off from Katoomba to explore the largely unmapped country of the Kowmung river. It was the start of World War One. In those one hundred years, threats of commercial exploitation have been largely defeated, and the area is Sydney water catchment, National Park, and World Heritage-listed. That is largely due to the bushwalking movement which Myles Dunphy pioneered, which then morphed into a conservation movement. Alex Allchin, a nineteen-year- old student from Sydney thought it was a good idea to commemorate this walk by retracing it. The “Dunphy Wilderness Walk’ was born.

Bridge over the Cox's river

My small part in this event was as a driver. The entire walk was broken into sections so that some people could just do a portion. I drove Guy, Myles’ grandson, into the camp at the start of the Unirover trail.

Snake on the road!
I swerve on the gravel
tyres make an 'S'

                           Boyd Plateau

At the camp I met Alex, and was fascinated to see that he and Sierra were as far as possible, using the same clothing and equipment that was in vogue a century ago, and used by Bert and Myles. He told me that the clothing ( of wool) was surprisingly practical.

Rather than carry a pack, Alex used a swag in the same way that Myles had: weight carried on the front and back, and held by leather straps, a billy strapped on the outside. 

Dave Noble walked the entire distance (Katoomba to the Six Foot Track and Cox’s river, Jenolan caves, Kowmung river, Yerranderie, and across the Wollondillly river to The Oaks) and here is his excellent blog… 

…and his amazing photos

 'Twas wonderful, at the beginning of October, to be warming oneself and cooking over a fire. Wyn decided to make the great Aussie ‘bread’.

beyond the smoke
watching his fingers
squish through damper

It is baked in the ashes, or twisted onto a stick. 

On the drive out, Keith Muir (of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness) regaled us with the story behind the eucalypt forest through which we drove, along the Boyd Plateau. I had noticed the stumps left behind of the forest giants, on my morning walk. In 1970, the NSW Forestry Commission planned to clear fell the native forests, and replant it with Pinus radiata. But by now the Colong Foundation had saved the caves, which were to have been dug up for the lime industry, and they went on to work out a deal by which the forest could also be saved. It was finally handed over to the National Parks and Wildlife Service in 1977. We drove through a small section of grassland. This had been an in-holding. The Blue Mountains Conservation Society bought it from the farmer, so that the entire plateau is now a coherent area for the enjoyment and livelihood of the cockatoos who flew overhead as I erected my tent, the kangaroos, the echidnas, the snakes… the walkers and drivers too.

I felt proud to be a member of this organization when I heard this.

Here is a link to the short film made by Gary Caganoff, called “Dunphy’s Kowmung Adventure”.

There is an excellent account of the original Dunphy - Gallop walk in "Kowmung River - discovery, history and development" 1993 by local historian Jim Barrett. It is available: 

  • in Blue Mountains libraries
  • at the Turning Page bookshop, Springwood
  • Megalong Books, Leura
  • Gleebooks, Blackheath  
  • contact the author.



I’ve been brushing up my navigation skills, going out with map and compass. Where am I, expressed as a number?   (Photos below are mine.)

the names of the flowers
I am a flower

         Faulconbridge ridge (733730)
Sun orchid   - Thelymitra epipactoides
Oh dear, yes. It’s that season again. Already we’ve had two fires in the mountains, but they were contained by our redoubtable firies.

smoke billowing
from the north - 
still in my pyjamas

Have a good Christmas season, everyone. The El Nino creeps closer and closer. May you all be safe. 
Angophora costata - smooth-barked apple

Diana Levy