Some Recollections of Shoalhaven Bushwalkers since 1985
The Leslie Family Walks- by Sally Leslie
What follows is an account of the highlights ie. what I can remember! We arrived in Nowra the week before Christmas 1984. In early 1985 I met May Leatch at an adult swimming class run by Adult Ed. We always chatted while we were not swimming. We realised we had a common interest in bushwalking. This was confirmed when Stuart and I went walking to Monolith Valley. We camped in a cave below The Castle which gave us reasonable shelter from the rain. We tried to climbed The Castle but couldn't find the way up! (We figured that we'd return soon and try again. Well, Stuart and Hamish did it last year but I haven't been back yet.) The next day we went into Monolith Valley and I introduced Stuart to May, who was on her own, at a very muddy spot that was difficult to get through! I remember noticing the pearl studs she always wore in her ears in those days - I thought it looked very classy out in the bush! We talked of our interest in bushwalking and May invited us to get involved in the Club. We went to a couple of meetings at the old library. I think Jeff Passlow, Alwyn Martin and Ruth Ballardier were also there. We joined up and received the newsletter regularly - it was fairly simple in those days. These are the walks I remember from 1985 and 1986:
- April 1986. A canoe trip on Tallowa Dam led by Rick Kelly. His outings were full of laughs and jokes and singing. We camped somewhere on the dam that Saturday night and I barely slept because of the pain in my shoulder from rowing. Norm Smith and Ivan Goozeff shared a canoe and provided comic relief during the trip. There was also someone paddling a little canoe - it was almost vertical because all the weight was down one end, so we had to stop and load it up with stones. I remember when we got back and were loading the canoes on the cars Rick complained of a pain around his ribs. He thought he had strained a muscle but it turned out to be the cancer that killed him in 1987.
- Stuart and I walked to Mount Corang with Rick about May 1986. I clearly remember climbing Mount Corang and it was covered with grass. (Last year when we took the kids I was surprised that it was covered with scrub which almost impenetrable in places. The bush can really change in 15 years.) We met Alwyn Martin in there as we walked along Corang Creek, he just happened to be walking in the same area by himself that weekend. What a coincidence - but then you are more likely to meet Alwyn out there than in the main street on Nowra.
- September 1986 we did an overnight to the Big Hole. There were lots of people on this walk including friends of ours from Sydney and Canberra. My strongest memory is sitting around the campfire after dinner singing and at the end of every song Rick would add "without your pants on". It was uproariously funny at the time, and we have done that ever since on similar occasions.
- October 1986 was the last walk I did when I was pregnant with Sophie. May Leatch took us to see the waratahs in bloom at Yerriyong. I found the walk a real strain but the waratahs were stunning.
-Rick Kelly died later that year. Stuart and I had always wanted to do a donkey trek with him to Yalwal as it sounded fun - he told such funny stories about the people he took out. We finally walked out there with the kids in 1997. Sophie was 10 and Hamish 8 and they did well to walk in with small packs. We camped overnight at the place we call 'Donkey Clearing'. It still had the remnants of the donkey corral, a table and seat and a stone step going down to the creek. We made up great stories about Rick and the donkeys which fascinated the kids. Isn't it funny how some people are so memorable? We paddle back to Donkey Clearing again in 1998 for another overnight stay. It's a beautiful, secluded and peaceful place.
We must have started Kids Walks in1990 when Sophie was three years old. Regulars were Phyll and Bruce McLoughlin and Kim and Gary Geissler, with their kids. We first did a walk to Comerong Island, and another along Bomaderry Creek to the Camellia Gardens. In February 1994 we also walked from Summercloud Bay to Kitty's Beach, and I remember a long walk at Bangalee which attracted lots of our friends. We always had a hard time getting the kids to walk across the paddock at Bangalee, but once we entered the rainforest they would happily clamber over the rocks and vines and 'fairy trees' for ages.