Around Sassafras - by Jim White
Goodness knows just what year it was when the Club decided to do Quilty's before the Newhaven Gap Road was closed. Quilty's was that lump of rock we had always gone past and it was just as well we did go as it was well worth the effort. Four couples made up the walkers, with the Kates leading the Priors, the Cleggs and the Whites.
After walking from the Newhaven Gap car park, round Galbraith's Plateau and through Quilty's Clearing we climbed up the Pass on the north side. (The Quilty Brothers made the pass up onto Quilty's Mountain in 1895 to graze their cattle on this high plateau - 20 square kilometres of elevated land). The Saturday night was freezing cold, with thick frost on the ground from an early hour. Still, to fill in the long winter's night, Leila had the good idea to go looking for wombats. What a mistake. The night was black and bitterly cold and all we saw was one old mangy wombat!
A thick fog rolled in overnight and the next day it was still freezing. We explored the base of the cliffs, which was all we saw till lunch-time when it fined enough to go back to the cars.
Another walk I did on Quilty's was up the south-east side, an interesting way to get to the top. Thank goodness for the likes of Gordon, Ray Clegg and John Prior. Nothing will stop these people. We made it right out to the end - beautiful views of a large area of the Morton NP. We found a real bush camp, just room enough to set up the tents. It was in an out-of-way place where no one goes, just a bit of landscaping was needed to make it a good spot.
The next day we went round the cliffs at the south end, and on the south-western side there was a real easy way up - you always find them when you don't need them. There is also a pass on the western side, and on another walk we set out to find it. Nobody from the club knew of its position, so we climbed on to Quilty's via the Bora Ground, went up to the Trig and set off to find the Pass. We did not find the pass on the first day but we did get down, thanks to the good climbers and a new climbing tape which was introduced to the Club by John Prior and was three times better than a rope.
Our camp was a real bush camp - just enough room to set up the tents. We could hear the creek but getting to it took five minutes. It could have been difficult to find our way back to the campsite so we hoisted a blue bag up a tree to mark to spot. That worked well.
The pass was easy to find from the bottom - there were even cairns to mark the way, so the trip home was easy. That night in camp we saw a brilliant full moon rise over Quilty's. It was lovely, never to be forgotten by those there.
Apart from the Cleggs, Kates, Whites and Priors already mentioned, others who went on these walks were Alwyn, Daphne, Denise and sometimes her husband Stuart, Barbara and John, Alan Thomas, Jeff Vercoe and others I've forgotten. Not always the lot, but always a good number.
The Passages of Time
The Passages of Time walk was introduced to us by a friend of John Prior, also called John, so to tell them apart he was known as John John. What he thought of that we shall never know. The walk starts down a pass off Yarramunmun Fire Trail and is on the headwaters of Bundundah Creek. It is only splits in the rock, quite deep, and you are able to get into them but perhaps not out.
That's a story in itself. John Prior dropped in with his arms above his head. Now try pulling yourself out. Can't be done. But with a lot of pulling and pushing he finally came out. Perhaps he would probably have made it another way?
There is a lovely big cave on the other side of the creek, ideal to camp in, but you had better pick a time the wind is not blowing. The first group found the cave perfect but on the second trip it was a dust bowl. The Passages of Time is a round walk, one way in and another way out, a really good walk.
What a great idea of Galbraith's, no need to walk down the road, just go across country. (Jack Galbraith had a selection near the Vines in the 1900s and his route from Newhaven Gap was used from 1912). In his day this route was cleared from cattle and logging. The problem is that now on his route there's prickly hakea and thick bottlebrush. What a day we had, pushing, bashing, crawling through, it was hard. Alwyn led, as he always leads, from the front! Just on dark we camped by a creek at quite an angle, all spread out. The next day we found we were only two hundred metres from an ideal camping spot. A walk never to be repeated.
Rixon's Coal Mine
There is a pass called Lindsay's Crack named by a party of Scouts after their leader, a Shoalhaven Bushwalker. It goes down through the cliff from the Newhaven Gap side, and it was discovered quite by accident. The Cleggs and the Whites were exploring the cliffs and just around a corner they found a crack going down and down, just wide enough for one person. These crevices don't usually go right to the bottom of a cliff face but this one did. We all climbed down, then it was a short walk to the Clyde River.
At the remains of Rixon's Coal Mine there are coal seams, a water fall ( go round on the west side), holes in the rock, all very interesting. If you are walking this track go only when it is dry and there is plenty of sunshine as the rocks become like glass when they are damp.