Shoalhaven - the Early Days
Walking for sport and pleasure has been an important part of the recreation scene in the South Coast of NSW for many years. It is a wonderful area with some of the best and most challenging walking country in the state. Among the many attractions are the coastal walks with sheltered coves, and long clean beaches between rocky headlands. Further inland there is hiking, canoeing and camping along the magnificent Shoalhaven River and spectacular views to be seen when climbing among the rugged ranges of the Budawangs or into the Ettrema Gorge.
Few records of those men and women who went walking in the 'wild' country in the Shoalhaven in the late 19th century can be found but the area would have been a popular one for keen outdoor adventurers. Their activities would have included walks for "pleasure or relaxation" (Wilf Hilder), camping trips, canoeing, cycling, and rock climbing.
By the 1930s enthusiasts from a number of clubs like the Coast and Mountain Walkers of NSW, Sydney Bushwalkers, Sydney Rockclimbing Club and the Mountain Trails Club were venturing into the less frequented parts of the area.
After the formation in Sydney of the NSW Federation of Bushwalkers in 1932 there was an increased interest in walking everywhere. By 1940 a few maps of the area were available and some information on various tracks was being published from notes and logs kept by earlier walkers like Robert Hoddle, Frank Craft, Paddy Pallin and Bill Wells.
When World War 2 ended, walking and other outdoor pursuits rapidly grew in popularity helped by the printing of the first detailed sketch maps of the area and the increasing availability of basic equipment needed for walking and camping. Nowra, formally a dairy, fishing and timber town on the Shoalhaven River, 160km south of Sydney was fast changing and growing. More young people from Sydney and elsewhere were being transferred south to jobs in commerce and industry, teaching, nursing and the services. Many had interests that included walking, rock climbing, canoeing and horse riding. Some had interests in the variety and distribution of flora and fauna of the local bushland, in birdwatching, geology, photography and the pre-history of the area. In small groups they were soon exploring the beautiful and challenging country around Nowra and further afield.