That Rescue (18th May 1995) - report by Fred Backer
At the recent Club meeting you may have heard all about the involvement of five of our club members - Russ Evans, Alwyn Martin, Ray Clegg, Elizabeth and I - in the mid-May rescue operation in the Budawangs - getting out a bushwalker with a broken ankle - or perhaps you talked to one of us about it on a recent walk. Russ has written an excellent and very sensible three-page report about the official side of the operation. The report is available for members to read - contact Russ or Dawn if you are interested.
None of the 40-odd volunteers with whom we walked in from Running Creek early Thursday morning could make a direct contribution to the rescue. For us five, though, it was good training and a great adventure. The drive along Braidwood Road to Nerriga around 4am was an experience. Russ's 4WD slithered interestingly in the torrential rain. Bucketfuls of red-brown water splashed right over the windscreen from time to time, totally obscuring the view. Then there was Ray, hip-deep in swollen Boolijah Creek to test the way across. The walk to a badly-flooded Sallee Creek and back was also interesting. We were experiencing the bush in conditions no sane bushwalker would normally set out in. Creeks we knew as docile trickles had suddenly become raging torrents. Nature in the raw can be truly imposing.
It was good to see how modern clothing, wet weather gear and garbage-bag lined packs allow you to weather, and even enjoy, these conditions in relative comfort. For those of us who were into steak sandwiches, sausages and the like the mobile canteen slapped up a bottomless feast afterwards. And Ray scored a helicopter lift out into the bargain! It was a bit of a worry, though, to realize the extent to which official rescue organisations have become reliant on their you-beaut hi-tech gear and vehicles. Once they have to walk away from those, things can become pretty unstuck. Off they went, shivering in their thin cotton overalls and plastic raincoats, carrying neither dry clothing nor food (we gave some of them our lunch), leaving even their ropes behind. I hope we weren't the only ones to learn something that day.