This was a walk I organised for SUBW. Here is part of the trip report –
Blue Gum Forest was saved 80 years ago on the 2nd September 1932. This majestic forest lies at the intersection of the Grose River and Govetts Creek near Blackheath. Back in 1932, a large portion of the forest (it was then private land) was going to be felled and replaced by walnut trees. Visiting bushwalkers were alarmed, and rallied together and ended up raising money to purchase the block in question and saving it for conservation. Many regard this as the start of the conservation movement in NSW.
Over the years, the Forest has remained a truly magnificent place. In danger of being loved to death by bushwalkers, a ban on camping in the forest was put in place in the 1970’s. An alternative campsite, Acacia Flat was set up nearby.
To mark the 80th anniversary, the NPWS were allowing bushwalkers to camp in the original forest – in the helipad section on the east bank of Govetts Creek.
Myself and Robert went by car to Blackheath on the saturday morning and after a coffee stop, caught the train to Mt Victoria and then walked out to Victoria Falls Lookout. After admiring the views, we descended to Victoria Falls and kept on going to Burra Korain Flat and the Grose River.
Only being two of us, we made good progress down the river. Lunch was had between Crayfish and Hat Hill Creeks.
In the early afternoon, we arrived at Little Blue Gum Forest. There we met Caro Ryan and her party from SBW. They had been planning on joining the celebrations at Blue Gum, but a member of their party had had an injury, so they had wisely decided to stop short and allow for recovery.
We kept going and reached Blue Gum Forest at about 3:30pm.
After a bit of photo-pfaffing we headed to the campsite at the helipad. Many walkers were already there, but there was plenty of space for camping. The anniversary celebrations began at 5pm with an aboriginal welcome, followed by poems, stories, and talks about the history. Special Blue Gum cup cakes were handed out – very yummy!
Bushwalker and historian Andy Macqueen, in his talk gave special mention to the late Micheal “Ted” Maack, past SUBW President, who led the celebrations 20 years ago at the 60th anniversary. At 6:30, we called out – very loudly – hoping to establish some sort of link with another Blue Gum celebration at Govetts Leap Lookout. I don’t know if we established voice communication – but we could see their flashing lights and presumably they could see ours.
After dinner, we regathered around the fires (multiple fires had been lit in drums) – and a special anniversary Blue Gum Song Book was handed out (thanks Aine). The singing went on late into the night….. even later on, some other SUBW members – Mitch and Chantal turned up and joined in with the celebrating.
Next morning, we got up early (at the crack of 9am) and sat close to the fire until the sun hit the camp. It had been a cold night!
Some of us had a chat with a radio national reporter who was there. He was collecting oral history of the forest. One of the key organisers of the celebration, and past SUBW member from the 60’s, Wyn Jones then embarked on an ambitious project – to make a giant leaf out of small tents. This would later be photographed from a chopper.
Robert and myself left the camp and then walked out back to Blackheath via Bridal Veil Falls, Govetts Leap and Popes Glen. Back in Blackheath, we had time for coffee before heading back to town.
It was great weekend in the bush. Thanks to Robert for the great company, interesting stories and the driving.
For those who missed out – in ten years time it will be the 90th anniversary. Lets hope the forest then is as good as it is now. And lets hope you don’t get shot by a hunter as you walk through it!
More photos on my website here.