ROUGH DIARY OF TRIP TO SNOWY RIVER, MT.KOSCIUSZKO ETC
PARTY: Harold.R.Hodges, Norman.Hodges, H.S.Freeman, S.G.Fish.
Written by Harold.R. Hodges. 1935
Edited by Gregory Powell. 2008
SATURDAY, 22nd DECEMBER 1934.
Left Sydney at 12 noon by road to Goulburn “ route as follows: Sydney, Liverpool, Camden, Picton, Mittagong, Bowral, Moss Vale, Sutton Forest, Marulan, Goulburn.
Arrived in Goulburn at 7pm, just before a heavy thunderstorm, and had tea at a cafe and phoned Sydney; beautiful lightning display after dark. Left Goulburn about 10 pm and camped about 5 miles out on Federal Highway. 134 miles today.
SUNDAY 23RD DECEMBER 1934.
Broke camp at 8.15 am and proceeded through Collector, Sutton, Canberra, Royalla, Michelago (lunch), Collinton, Bredbo, Cooma, Berridale and Dalgetty to Paupong.
Arrived at Wellsmores property about 9pm in fairly heavy rain and received a very cordial reception. Parked machines in cart shed and camped for night in hut, complete with fire and all conveniences. 171 miles today.
MONDAY, 24th DECEMBER 1934.
We had lamb chops for breakfast and packed up. We imbibed spiritous liquors then went into Wellsmores paddocks to have a look at the country “ fine views including 9 Mile, Cobberas, Pilot etc.
We left at 11.30am and proceeded down Great Popong Creek with 50lb packs. We missed the track at the pines, which start approximately 1,200 feet down. We lunched 1400 feet down. We continued down and had a swim under a waterfall.
We left the creek and proceeded over the ridge above the big bend and down to junction of Great Popong and another creek. We crossed Great Popong Creek here and picked up the track on the other side and arrived at the Snowy River at 5.15 pm. Great Popong enters the Snowy against the flow. Our first impressions of the Snowy were not up to expectations. The river was very fast flowing with a bouldery bed of mainly pink and blue granite. The surrounding timber was mostly pine and stunted box. There was hardly any undergrowth or grass, except for some tea-tree on the river bank. We camped on the bank of Great Popong Creek just above the junction. The weather was moderate with a cool breeze and generally cloudy. We spent a mild night. 5 miles today.
TUESDAY, 25th DECEMBER 1934 (CHRISTMAS DAY).
We broke camp at 7.45. The first 6 miles was fairly heavy going at times, over rocks and along sandy stretches. We reached Dog Trap Creek at 10am. The opposite bank of the river looked better going but crossing was not attempted. It became very warm towards midday and we lunched at the end of some very rough going, and left at 4pm.
It was now better going with a fair trail. About 2 miles downstream a big unmarked creek enters on the opposite side close to some rapids. The trail continues, broken in parts, to our campsite about 1 mile below Biddi. Rabbits were fairly plentiful along the river and also ducks. The river was wide in parts, up to 150 yards, with a fair number of islands. The night was mild. 10 miles today.
WEDNESDAY, 26th DECEMBER 1934 (BOXING DAY).
We woke to a fine slightly clouded morning and broke camp at 8.15am. It was generally fair going along the broken trail to Jacobs River. A few rough patches were encountered. Jacobs enters the Snowy against the flow in a series of short rapids. There are large banks of boulders at the junction caused by interaction of the streams. Fairly large flats are located on both sides of Jacobs near the junction “ good camping, but banks near the mouth are covered with thick growth of bracken, thistle etc. Jacobs River is a fine stream; fast flowing with water very cold. We lunched at the junction and blazed a box tree on the bench at the downstream corner of the junction, and left at 3pm.
We caught a duck. It was rough going for about 2 miles with light rain. We left the river and proceeded up Birds Eye Siding track which commences at the start of a big S bend at the junction of a small dry creek. We saw old cattle blaze at a downstream corner and a club blaze on a small trunk of double box, 40 yards downstream at the start of the sidling track. It was about a 2 mile climb to the top of the ridge where the track crosses straight over into the Pinch Valley. There was a MTC blaze on the right and a club blaze on the left. Barometer- 1080 at this point. It was a short descent to the Pinch River and we camped on a bench across the stream. The Pinch was fast flowing with many rapids. We caught a trout and an eel. Light rain fell. 10 miles today.
THURSDAY, 27th DECEMBER 1934.
We woke to a fine morning and broke camp at 8.20 am. There was a good track along the left bank of the Pinch to a stockyard about a mile away. The track leaves the river a little farther on near a MTC and club blaze, and rises steeply for 400 feet. There are good views of the Pinch and Snowy River valleys and surrounding country. It was a fair grade to the topmost point, 2880 ft, then a descent and subsequent rise to a junction of creeks.
We had lunch in the rain and left at 3pm, proceeding to the top of the saddle at 4 000 ft by 3.50pm. It was then about 1 mile across to the travelling stock yards and hut. At 5pm we arrived at Freebodys Hut on the Ingeegoodbee River and set up rabbit traps but caught nothing. There were no trout either. Heavy rain fell early but it cleared later to a cool starry night. 7 miles today.
FRIDAY, 28th DECEMBER 1934.
The early morning was cool but it became very warm after sunrise. We broke camp at 9.30 and followed a good track, interspersed with swamps, up the Ingeegoodbee River. The river was flowing along in a winding course through flat swampy country covered with snow grass and daisies. The track leaves the river at about 3.5 miles above Freebodys Hut, cutting off a big bend, and rejoins the stream at a third swamp about 2 miles farther on. There was a club blaze on the upstream side of the first big swamp after leaving the river. We lunched on the river bank at 3 740 ft and spent about 1.5 hours looking for the track without success. We left at 4pm and proceeded up river for about 1.5 miles of rough going and finally picked up the track about a mile before the junction of the two main heads. We proceeded up the left hand bank of what seemed to be the main arm of the Ingeegoodbee, cutting numerous small running tributaries. The track crossed the main stream and proceeds over a low ridge on to the other side of which another arm of the river is met bearing west. Both heads run through open prairie country, which is generally swampy, near the river. We followed up this arm to the top of the main divide and picked up the main track which was followed roughly north until striking a Mineral Claim (C.C. Pendergast, pegged March 1934) at 4 200 feet. From here we crossed over into one of the heads of Tin Mine Creek and camped. Fallen timber was lying everywhere, evidently the result of a terrific storm fairly recently. The night was clear and cool. 12 miles today.
SATURDAY, 29th DECEMBER 1934.
We left at 11.20 am for the Pilot and followed south along the main divide track which was almost obliterated by fallen timber and headed over into Tin Mine Creek, past the hut and up the creek to Freebodys mustering camp above the creek on the western side. We followed a fairly good trail up Tin Mine Creek for about 2 miles, then left the creek endeavouring to strike ridge to Little Pilot but progress was almost impossible owing to the fallen timber. About 90% of the upland trees (many up to 60 and 70 feet high) having been blown down by northwest gales of terrific force. The altitude at 1.15 pm was 5 000 feet, at the foot of the ascent to Little Pilot. The progress on the range was practically blocked by timber so we turned back into Tin Mine Creek and lunched at 2pm. We considered our position and decided it impossible to reach the Pilot and retraced our steps to camp in daylight, arriving at 5.45pm On the way we visited the Tin Mine Hut and left a note. There was heavy rain during the early part of the night. 8 miles today.
SUNDAY, 30th DECEMBER 1934.
We rose at 4.30am and broke camp at 7.20 and proceeded along main divide track for about 2 miles then turned down into heads of Pinch River. We saw Tin Miners No.2 camp on head of Pinch River. We crossed the Pinch at an old fence - presumably an old stockyard which was partly burnt, and followed the trail from here through mountain ash country over several low ridges off the main divide which led to a wide upland grassy soak and on to a low depression in the main range. There were fine views back along the range towards the Pilot, Cobberas, Forest Hill, Indi Gorge and Victorian Ranges, the later appearing at least as high as our position. Portions of the view were obliterated by heavy rain squalls and mist. The bearing on the Pilot from this point was 208 degrees. At noon we were at 5 300 feet and proceeded over the main divide and down into the depression. We then crossed the main divide again which we did not realise until discussed after lunch. We descended to the lee side of the main top for lunch and climbed a small knob where good views, partly obliterated by mist and rain, were obtained of Rams Head and the peak of Kosciuszko. Snow drifts on Rams Head were clearly visible. At this time we thought the deep valley below us on the eastern side was Cascade Creek and accordingly plotted our direction through a low gap in the range ahead, which we thought was Dead Horse Gap, bearing due north.
After lunch we proceeded to the eastern side of the divide and after some discussion, discovered that we had come right to the eastern extremity of the range and were looking down into Jacobs River, not Cascade Creek, with the main range bearing away to our left. The bearing previously taken on the Pilot was plotted on the map and this confirmed our position. We returned to the top of the range and picked up the main divide track which, after sidling round south western side of large knob, where a heavy sleet storm was encountered, winds down into a creek which may be one of the heads of Cascade Creek, although flowing towards us. This creek may flow directly into the Indi or may join Cascade Creek farther down. About half a mile farther on, the track leads to a stockmans camp and small corral, then turns at right angles, crosses a small soak and sidles uphill for about 200 yards to a ruined stockyard. It then continues upstream for a short distance, crosses a saddle and turns down into another head of Cascade Creek. From here the track bears approximately northwest, following down the left bank of the creek for 2 miles. Where the creek runs to the left, the track crosses it and continues over a low hill where another creek comes in on the right. Shortly after, a cattle wallowing ground is reached under a clump of trees where the track forks, the main branch continuing down the left bank. About a mile farther on the stream is crossed and another wallowing ground is met in open country where the track turns at right angles and can be plainly seen going uphill bearing practically due north. The elevation at this point is5 100 feet. The whole track down Cascade Creek runs through open snowgrass country. We proceeded up the track to the top of the main divide in about 3 stages. The bearing on the Pilot was 187 degrees and our elevation at the top was 6 030 feet. Many big granite boulders surrounded us at this point. The track then passed through a gate in the fence and cut the main divide track which was followed to the left for about a mile through open swampy country, past a clump of unusual bushy trees.
We now turned off the main divide track into the Crackenback and crossed the saddle dividing the heads of Jacobs and Crackenback Rivers. We camped above the saddle in a clump of trees and rocks at 7.45pm. We were well sheltered at 5 500 feet. Heavy rain fell and it became very cold. We had great difficulty in getting a fire started. Ultimate success came at 9pm when the rain eased and the weather fined. We had tea and turned in at 11.15. 21 miles today.
MONDAY, 31st DECEMBER 1934.
Misty rain commenced again at about 3am and continued steadily until about 10am. All the tops were obliterated in mist so we abandoned the proposal to climb Rams Head. The occasional lifting of the mist showed snow drifts on the eastern side of this peak. We lunched and broke camp at 3pm. We took a short cut endeavouring to cut the bend in the Crackenback and headed straight for Rams Head. We crossed the main head of Crackenback, running west at this point and continued up the ridge and cut the track, which led to a stockyard and then petered out. We went straight up the ridge and picked up a track coming in on the left, which was followed for about 1.5 miles. Our elevation at 4.20pm was 6 080 feet. The rain commenced again and the mist was thick as we continued to climb along the winding track following the height of the land through belts of timber and over several grassy saddles. The visibility was practically nil and our position was indefinite, so it was decided to head down the creek on the left into the Crackenback. The descent was easy for about 400 feet but then the creek narrowed in with close growing saplings and scrub making hard going. We reached the bottom at 6.30pm at an elevation of 4 550 feet. The visibility was still very poor but halfway down, the snow fields on Rams Head and Kosciuszko were visible through the breaks in the mist. We found that we had landed right on Friday Flat, having taken probably the best possible route down. We continued downstream about 0.5 of a mile and camped on a well-sheltered timbered bench. 6 miles today.
TUESDAY, 1st JANUARY 1935 (NEW YEARS DAY).
The morning dawned beautifully clear. Snow drifts under Merritts Lookout were clearly visible from our camp. As the weather was good we decided to go over Rams Head and Kosciuszko. We broke camp at 8.30 and picked up the track above the river, which led up to Merritts Lookout and a cattlemens galvanised iron hut near the top. We went on to a snow drift and over the top across flat grassy country forming the head of the Snowy River. We met stockmen droving cattle from Corryong, Victoria, to graze on the tops until March, in order to rest the home paddocks. At 10.40 we crossed the Snowy River and picked up the motor road to Kosciuszko about 2.5 miles below the summit. We continued up the road to Seamans Hut (stone, concrete and celotex), which contains bedding and provisions for 4 people. The hut was covered with names and initials of visitors. We continued to the bend immediately under the summit and then straight up. We noticed remarkable upturned shale formations in the road excavations. We reached the summit at 11.40am at a height of 7 305 feet. From the summit we had extensive views in all directions partly blocked by Rams Head to the south and Mt. Townsend to the north. The Pilot was obscured by Rams Head. We met Mr. Pendergast and a guide from Omeo, Victoria.
We left the summit at 12.15 and headed down to Lake Cootapatamba and up to Rams Head, where there were huge granite boulder formations, which were ruggedly eroded. Rams Head provided better views of the Indi Valley and southward, including the Pilot.
We left at 2.10pm heading east and cut the main track, which was followed, down to a creek above a cattle camp. We had lunch at 2.45 and left at 4.20. The track was good down to the Crackenback below Dead Horse Gap, over which the Tom Groggin track can be seen. This is the limit of timber and the summer snowline. We proceeded along the fishermens track to our camp. We met a fishing party from The Chalet and arrived at our camp at 6.30pm. 18 miles today.
WEDNESDAY, 2nd JANUARY 1935.
We rose late and broke camp at 10.30 and proceeded along the fishermens track before turning off about 2 miles above the junction of the Crackenback and Little Thredbo Rivers. We crossed Thredbo diggings and several sheep paddocks and cut up Little Thredbo near a small homestead about 2 miles from the junction, where we lunched. It was probably better to keep to Crackenback right to the junction with Little Thredbo where there is an old mill, as the route across Thredbo Diggings is rather rough in parts. We went down to the junction where we met Dr. Bullock of Sydney with his wife and two children at their fishing camp. We returned to our lunch place and left again at 5.45pm, following the road over a low ridge. About 0.5 of a mile before reaching Pender Lea, we met a local fisherman who directed us to a deserted house near the head of Wollondibby Creek where we camped for the night at 7pm. 11 miles today.
THURSDAY, 3rd JANUARY 1935.
We broke camp at 7.30 am and proceeded to Moonbah where we saw cattle being branded at a small property. We continued straight across country to Paupong, arriving at 5.30pm. 15 miles today.
FRIDAY, 4th JANUARY 1935.
We watched the shearing and later went over to a property about 2 miles from Wellsmores to see sheep being dipped. We returned to Wellsmores, packed up and left at 11.50am. We were in Cooma by 2.45 and Nimmitabel by 5.20pm. We were struck by very thick fog on Brown Mountain and arrived in Bega at 8.20pm, where we had dinner and camped about 5 miles out on the Brogo River. 16 miles today
SATURDAY, 5th JANUARY 1935.
We broke camp at 9.30 and proceeded through Cobargo, Tilba Tilba, Narooma, Bodalla, Moruya (lunch), Batemans Bay, Ulladulla and arriving in Nowra at 8.30pm. We camped on the point over the Shoalhaven River. 17 miles today.
SUNDAY, 6th JANUARY 1935.
We broke camp at 6.45 and travelled through Berry, Gerringong, Kiama, Wollongong, Bulli and arrived in Sydney at 12 noon. 106 miles today.
SUMMARY OF DISTANCES
Paupong to Snowy River- along Great Popong Creek “ 5 miles
Great Popong Creek to below Biddi “ 10 miles
Below Biddi to Pinch River “ 10 miles
Pinch River to Ingeegoodbee River “ 7 miles
Ingeegoodbee River to Tin Mine Creek “ 12 miles
Unsuccessful assault on the Pilot “ 8 miles
Tine Mine Creek to head of Crackenback “21 miles
Head of Crackenback to Friday Flat “ 6 miles
Kosciuszko/Ramshead round trip “ 18 miles
Friday Flat to Wollondibby Creek “ 11 miles
Wollondibby Creek to Paupong “ 15 miles
Total distance walked “ 123 miles
Text of letter left by bushwalkers at hut at Tin Mine Creek on Saturday 29th December 1934.
4 members of The Bushlanders Club of NSW, passed through here on walking tour from Wellsmores, Paupong, via Snowy, Pinch, Ingeegoodbee enroute to Thredbo and Paupong 29/12/34. Bushlanders Club of NSW, Box 237D, GPO, Sydney.
P.T.O. Have taken photos of Hut “ will send you copies on receipt of name and address.
Benambra, Victoria. 15 Jan 1935
To Members, Bushlanders Club NSW,
Just a few lines from the little old Bush hut in the Pilot ranges. Tin mine creek.
I regret that I was not at home when the members of the club called on the 29. Dec. 34 and the other members of my party were disappointed at not meeting the wanderers on the Pinch River at No.2 camp of the Mount Pilot mining coy. We do not see many visitors in this locality and everybody that passes through this area is always welcome and men on this field are at all times prepared to give any assistance or information respecting the country and the beauty spots here abouts. Any snaps taken will be acceptable and appreciatively received by us. Wishing your Club and members every success.
NOTES by Greg Powell.
The 4 bushwalkers from The Bushlanders Club of NSW started their walk from Paupong, south of Jindabyne after an epic two day drive from Sydney. Their route took them down Great Popong Creek to the Snowy River at present day Jacobs River Camping Area. They then went a little way up Jacobs River before crossing the high spur to the Pinch River and then over the next spur to the Ingeegoodbee River. They followed this up to the Tin Mine area and were defeated in climbing the Pilot by fallen timber from devastating storms. They then headed northward where they became disoriented and eventually descended from the vicinity of the Brindle Bull Hill, directly to Friday Flat near present Thredbo. On a day walk they climbed Merritts Spur, crossed the Snowy River below a graffiti Seamans Hut, and climbed Mt. Kosciuszko. They returned to Friday Flat via Rams Head and Dead Horse Gap. They continued down the Crackenback River to Thredbo Diggings and then crossed to Pender Lea and the Wollondibby River and overland to Paupong.
It is interesting to note the blazed tree routine used by the clubs.
The author in his diary omitted any personal feelings or bushwalking anecdotes and simply sticks to the geographical realities of the trip.