Sunday, June 1, 2008
Rosalie and David with Troopie before the decent.
One of the most memorable and beautiful places, for me, is Blue Gum Forest. Situated in the Grose Valley, it is a place of tall blue gums, tree ferns and rivers. It was the place of my first over night bush walk, It was the place of stories and history. It has been compared to the red wood forests of the USA.
In the 1800's, the Grose Valley was to be utilized for the main rail link from Sydney to Bathurst. Several attempts were made to build, but each time floods washed the works away. If you walk from Blue Gum forest down the Grose River you might just see some of the works. It was also considered to be dammed as a water supply for the Sydney region.
The view into the valley.
By the 1870's Sydney walking clubs had discovered its beauty and were doing their best to save this magical place. By the 20th century two men, Perry and Hungerford, had leased the area They drove cattle into the valley and had plans to cut all the timber down. In 1931 the bush walkers club offered 130 pounds for the lease. Hungerford agreed. The Valley was saved. ( please note- this is the abridged version- more accurate history can be found on-line). Some of Australia's earliest art works and photography can be found with this area as its subject. It's simply that beautiful and significant.
David equipped with camel back on a steep decent.
In the 1970's cattle still roamed- keeping the forest free from weeds and growth. Back then you could light a fire for your meal. Not so today. Fuel stoves are a requirement and the undergrowth is thicker, and laced with weeds. However, its still beautiful. I have fond memories of a enamel cup of hot billy tea down at Acacia Flats as well as telling stories by the fire.
I chose today because the weather forecast was not good- fog and rain and cold. So I had no chance to mow lawns and do chores. It was not long before my eldest daughter and youngest son asked if they could come.
David approaching "Big Ben"
When we arrived I was relieved and excited. Bush fires two years ago had devastated the area. There was still plenty of evidence with some big trees destroyed. Big Ben was still there and bigger than life. Looking more like a tree that should be in a Tolkien novel!
After half an hour we decided to return. The climb out is constant. David, (who always takes the lead), suddenly asked us to be still and quiet. To the left of the track was a Lyre bird mound and the Lyrebird himself was doing a full display, utterly oblivious to our intrusion. It's a moment of chance that I will never forget.
Some of the views
The climb out reveled Tree creepers, Whip birds and Bell minors. It was extraordinary. Within the hour and a half we had made it back to the top.
Nearby is a monument to some children who died in the 1950's. Fire rushed through and they tried to beat it back to the top. Bush Fires RACE uphill but move very slowly downhill. It was utterly tragic. They were only 14 years old.
Returning to the troopie was a relief. Heavier fog had set in and we were comforted by the troppies capacity to get us home safely.
I would like to say this- I want to thank my eldest daughter Rosalie for being so positive, even though some parts of the walk were quite difficult. I would also like to thank David, who even at just 10, is a born leader. FULL of encouraging words and observations about the bush around him. He is a delight to walk with , and when the going gets tough his focus and determination is extraordinary.
The BBQ has headlights!!
On returning home a nice BBQ Tuna steak, and a James Squire Ale, finished off a magical day.