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Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18



The Melbourne Bushies - Fifty years along the track (1940-90)

The scrub became less open, the air much warmer and the large party was not easy to keep together in the tall trees so our progress slowed. It was late afternoon before everyone had reached the top of the long spur down to the river. To further slow progress, the spur became almost vertical when it neared the river. Before retiring the leader declared a late start, 'about eleven', for the next day. Leader and party slept well that night.

It was an easy day, starting about 11.00 a.m. and reaching camp about 3.00 p.m. with many small rapids and gravel races between long shallow pools. The area where we camped had been well worked by gold seekers. Some of the names on the map are: Assay Buttress, Panning Hill, Bonanza Hill, Fossickers Spur, Eldorado Ridge, Paradise Creek and New Chum Ridge. Our swimming pool was a bit shallow - only about a metre deep and with a sandy bottom, so the water was warm. But no one suggested we should move on and find a deeper pool.

After enjoying some easy rapids as we paddled, about midday next day we were in The Blockup. Most people drifted through admiring the ragged cliffs and the slowly moving white wisps of cloud above them. I landed on a small sandy beach and climbed a few metres up the slatey cliff. Below me was the group of liloists with their feet pointing in 13 different directions as they were moved slowly along by the river.

Camp for the night was opposite 'the chimneys'. Many years ago, while searching for gold, someone found a deposit of copper ore about halfway down the spur on the opposite bank of the river. Using horse power, bullock power and pick-and-shovel human power, a rough track was constructed to the top of the gorge above us. Then a flying fox was built down a spur on our side and across the river where a smelter was constructed. The mineral lode was discovered in 1904 and the aerial cableway completed by 1909 but the high arsenic content of the ore made smelting very difficult so in 1912 Tolwong Mineral Company went into liquidation.* Some of the brick buildings still remain, their position marked by the tall brick chimneys among the encroaching eucalyptus trees. It is worth spending a hour wandering among the ruins, reflecting on what humankind achieved before bulldozers and helicopters.

Next morning more small rapids brought us to Bungonia Creek. After setting up camp we explored the creek into Bungonia Gorge. At first the stream was shallow with a series of small pools, the walking track alternating between sides. Then our way was blocked by huge

* The Goulburn Post, 9 November 1987, has an article on Tolwong Mineral Company.