Keith Lancaster
Home to Index  

Note: The reports have been scanned in as written. I have included the height and distance indications, e.g.:
(1000'- 12m.- 4.45p.m.)
which read as follows: height in feet - miles for the day - time.
On Easter Saturday, 1932, at 12.30 p.m., I left Newstead per bicycle on an attempt to reach Stack's Bluff. The weather was boisterous and anything but inspiring when I commenced my journey assisted by a strong northerly wind. I followed the route I had previously taken on an earlier trip to Ben Lomond making good time. Going up the Englishtown hill I succeeded in overtaking my compan-ion, J. Yates, who had started out earlier. From here onwards light rain fell at intervals and we arrived at Englishtown just before 4 p.m..

As we trudged along the track towards our intended destination for the night, the trapper's hut, the prospect of a fine week-end became less and less remote with the steadily increasing fall of rain which made the bush rather dark. The tortuous climbs on this mountain track, too, were exacting their toll from our ebbing strength, but the vision of a dry shelter within which we would soon have a cheery fire aglow lent new energy to our weary limbs. The clouds were hanging very low around Ragged Mountain and, of course, visibility was very limited and upon ascending one of the higher points of the track we were among the clouds ourselves. The incessant drizzling rain had saturated our clothes by this time, but our hopes rose when we passed our old camping ground of the previous visit for we expected to find the hut at any moment. But, alas! what a disappointment lay in store for us. We searched around for a while until I happened across a small wall of stones and this was all that was left of the hut. It had been burned to the ground!

But this was not by any means all with which we had to contend. Fortunately the rain had eased considerably and I immediately began to collect a large number of big logs for the night's fuel while my comrade in distress essayed to start the fire. This was a far more difficult task than we had anticipated as the whole bush was sodden with rain. By diligent searching under logs and bushes we gathered a small quantity of slightly damp dead grass and sticks, but it was only after an hour's patient and indefatigable coaxing, when we were on the eve of abandoning the project, that we managed to set the fire blazing. By this time it was quite dark and we had our tea by the fireside at 8 p.m. although it was but 6 p.m. when we arrived. During the night rain fell almost continuously but, fortunately, few heavy downpours occurred. Towards midnight the wind changed to the south while the clouds lifted, giving us a blurred glimpse of the moon for a few minutes. Our spirits rose for we were expecting another change of weather reminiscent of our two previous experiences, but the respite was short-lived for the north wind was soon again in command. Piling on plenty of logs we kept a huge fire burning by which we kept ourselves fairly dry although we forsook our cosy fireside during a couple of the heavier falls to shelter beneath a big fallen tree. In the morning we were amazed to find that Jack's Creek, by which we had camped, had risen to an alarming proportion, having quite thrice the volume it contained the previous evening. A small creek, which yesterday did not exist, came roaring down the mountain side, emptying its foaming waters into the creek just opposite our campfire.

We left our fireside about 7.30 a.m. and took the track leading up the mountain-side. Lying on the left side of the path, the usual trickling stream, which is probably the main stream of Jack's Creek, was a roaring torrent and there was water everywhere. We reached the plateau and, turning to the south, we passed to the east of Magnet Crag (4700 ft.). It was impossible to walk dry-footed here as the water lay in sheets all over the plateau and it was impossible to miss the pools. This made little difference to us for what was a little more water when we were soaking wet although we had set out quite dry little more than an hour before. The clouds hung low over the plateau making our visibility rather limited and, to add to our discomfort, was the cold northerly wind hurling the flying rain at us. After we passed Magnet Crag we could see it was useless to continue by the way we had planned as we would have to descend a wide gulf over rough huge boulders which, though by no means unnegotiable, would take a couple of hours to cross. As our trip was strictly limited to three days we could see now that we had no chance whatsoever of approaching anywhere near Stack's Bluff in the time so we relinquished our efforts to do so and decided to return home.

I am of the opinion that Stack's Bluff could be reached on a three day trip from the Englishtown track by keeping to the foot of the plateau and following the mountain around to the south till the bluff is reached. Also, it may be possible to find an easier route over the plateau farther to the east but the former route appeals most. However, we retreated to our campfire, which had almost burned out in the meantime, and dried our soaking garments. Then, after a hasty meal, we resumed our march by the way we had come. When we reached the River Nile we were astonished to see such a huge volume of water where but yesterday it had contained scarcely quarter as much. The journey home was without incident and, passing Englishtown at 1.30 p.m., we arrived home at approximately 4 p.m..
Home to Index  
If you would like more information on Keith Lancaster's diaries, please feel free to send me an email.