15 October 2016

UQBWC - Sixth Reunion of Ancient Australian Bushwalkers.

The University of Queensland Bushwalking Club (UQBWC) exists these days only in spirit. The new system of regularly prescribed course work, projects and examinations put the sword to many University interest groups - it seemed a pity to me as the regular intercourse of ideas between students from different disciplines added so much to university education.

But the UQBWC bushwalkers kept in touch and, over the years, had regular reunions in Queensland (even one in NZ) with people coming from afar as France for the event. This year the event was held (as often before) within walking range of the sacred Mt Barney (and in the event of bad weather, within car range of the coffee shops of Boonah!).

The Sacred Mt Barney (Photo: Catherine Smith)

The weather forecast for our reunion this time was somewhat dubious with the best weather forecast for the 20th September. This meant that the most ambitious walking was planned for that day. Accordingly a group of six took off for Mt Barney via the South Ridge. All reached Rum Jungle, an attractive bit of rain forest between the two main peaks of Barney, and three struggled on to the summit and back to the Mt Barney Lodge where wine, food and friends awaited their return. This blogger was one of these intrepid three but he suffered some sort of combination of old age, starvation, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance and mental deterioration which resulted in very wobbly knees and general weakness. He was gently ushered off the mountain by RonC and RogerE after a 13h day. Worse happened. On his return to NZ he failed to declare the importation of plant material - a Mt Barney stick broken off inside his calf muscle. Fortunately he was not apprehended and fined but the resulting leg swelling caused suspicion of deep vein thrombosis. Eventually ultrasound scanning revealed the broken off stick which was subsequently removed (and incinerated to save the NZ economy). There were other sequelae but of a delicate nature! And of course there is a very good camera sitting somewhere up on Mt Barney.

The Stick - in situ - ultrasound image

Meanwhile others did sterling stuff - walking the main range and visiting the gastronomic fleshpots of Boonah.

Bronwyn Willmott, William Grey, Sybil Curtis, Eli Skoien, Gordon Grigg, Jim Lydon, Pat Conaghan, Barry and Jane Baker, Warwick Willmott, Judy Hines, Jenny Timmins, Alan Timmins (Photo: Catherine Smith)

The following day there was an attempt to reach the Mt Maroon waterfall. The first crossing seemed deep (for old folk) and, with the river seemingly rising, prudence dictated that the least hazardous option was lunch at Boonah.

Soggy UQBWC Old Folk at the Swollen Barney Creek (Photo: Gordon Grigg)

During all this driving about in cars the older UQBWC members could be overheard discussing such topics as the imminent plebiscite on same sex marriage (so that the Oz marriage industry does not loose too much business across the Tasman), assisted dying for the elderly, the merits of a burial plot at Barney View ($300 plus the use of the local farmer's tractor and front end bucket), and just how many wives Roger had endured (and his impending grandfather status). The story of Basil's underpants being used years ago as a filter for the drinking water at Malte Brun Hut was also retold.

In the evenings there were many slides shown, early trips re-lived, old friends remembered and toasted and there was some show and tell apropo individual hobbies and activities. There were paintings, woodcuts and etchings, books (ranging from crocodylians to Antarctica) On the last day people drifted off towards Brisbane but there seemed to be a general reluctance to part company.

Helen Cox, Rosie and Jim Millar, Jane and Barry Baker, BarryS, Pat Conaghan, Ron Cox (Photo: Catherine Smith)

This blog cannot be signed off without grateful acknowledgement of the superb organisation of Sybil Curtis (helped by Gordon Grigg in the important matter of the wine).