Blue Gum Forest – 80th Anniversary 1-2 September 2012

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.

Robert at Victoria Falls Lookout

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.

Hanging Rock from Crayfish Creek

Only being two of us, we made good progress down the river. Lunch was had between Crayfish and Hat Hill Creeks.

A large detached pinnacle on the northern Grose Wall

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.

Grose Country

The Mirrorball Pinnacle – another large detached pinnacle. This one has some great rockclimbing routes on it

We kept going and reached Blue Gum Forest at about 3:30pm.

Blue Gum Forest

The Blue Gums are kept clean by the Red Triangle Slug – which is responsible for the marks on the bark. They graze for mould and algae.

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.

The giant leaf (image courtesy of Andy Macqueen)

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.

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3 Responses to Blue Gum Forest – 80th Anniversary 1-2 September 2012

  1. Ray Wilkinson says:

    Hi David
    Love your Blog-website, provides me with hours of enjoyment and inspiration.
    I am planning a walk in Tassie, central plateau and du cane range this xmas and was wondering whether I could get your email to ask you a few questions?

  2. Dr Michael Myers OAM says:

    At the start of this page the following comment is made. “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.”

    My grandfather, Walter James Headland Roots, told me the story about being the person, along with my Grandmother and a few others, who found the woodcutters starting on the trees in Blue Gum forest. He told the story of leaving Blue Gum Forest immediately and going straight to Mark Foy, who owned the land at the time, and put forward a proposition to buy the forest and hand it back to the Australian people in-perpetuity. I recollection is that the meeting with Mark Foy took place at the Hydro Majestic, but I stand to be corrected. I remember him saying that Mr Foy was so impressed with the proposal that he said yes and the money was not important. I recollection is that the purchase price offered was in the order of 350 pound.

    Grandpa, as he was known to me, then went away and raised the money to finalize the transaction. My recollection is that Sydney Bush Walking Club, of which Grandpa was a founding member along with Paddy Pallin were involved in helping raise the capital to pay for the forest.

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