The Colo Gorge

In January 1934 Ray Bean and a bunch of other bush walkers including Rene Brown, Iris Rockstro (Roxy), Winifred Duncombe, Ninian Melville, Ben Fuller, and Wallace Melville. The party was lead by Nian Melville and organised by ‘Dunc’ Winifred Duncombe. Ray was there for the fun and had bought along his camera to record the trip.

The trip was particularly difficult and the preparations for food were not fantastic. This was not helped by Ray Bean breaking 2 1/2 dozen of the eggs they had plus the loss of some bacon due to the heat. The trip took 10 days and the group made their food last by catching and eating eels as they went further along on the trip.

There were also a couple of minor accidents and some general confusion over exactly where they were. They came out of the trip on the last day and found someone who was willing to feed them. So despite shoes that were falling apart and restrictions of food they made it to the end of their walk.

In the February edition of the Sydney Bushwalker, released just days after they returned “Barney” had this poem, describing the hardships all of the walkers had been through.

“The Colo Gorge”
(Tune: It Ain’t Gonner Rain No Mo’.)
1. This is the yarn of Dunc and her friends who thought they were all very tough,
When they left one day in spirit so gay to tackle the Colo rough.
They were loaded with food and cameras galore, which filled their old packs to the brim,
But their hearts were light though they looked such a sight, and they all were in very good trim.

2. They went for two weeks with the object in view of ambling along at their leisure,
With never a though in the time so short, of anything else but their pleasure.
But the vines lay thick in the vally bed, with their armour of bramble and thorn,
And so in dismay they made their way, all bloody and scratched and torn.

3. There was Ninian in front and he hacked a path from dawn to the close of each day,
With Dunc at the back to flatten the track and form the permanent way.
While Auntie and Roxy and the rest of the gang came trundling along behind,
All doing their best to survive the test and Ray to preserve his mind.

4. The days flew past and the miles cralwed by, the party getting thinner and thinner,
And the day came at when they hat to fast and go without any dinner.
They were down to some aspros, some tea and some rice, & it was hours since they’d last fed,
When Dunc caught an eel and they made a good meal off the bones & the skin and the head.

5. At last quite exhausted they broke from the scrub like seven grey ghosts from the west,
After ninety miles odd, and they thanked their God that at last they’d be able to rest.
Their boots were worn from right off their feet and their clothes were hanging in tatters,
But they’ve all stood it well, and they’re back now from hell, which really is all that matters.

6. Now Dunc she has made ten new holes in her belt & Roxy’s just fading away,
While Auntie doesn’t care how hard you may swear, so long as she can eat all day.
The others are most of them pale & thin, and their health won’t allow them to laugh
But poor Ray Bean can hardly be seen- he’s minus two stone and a half.
Sydney Bush Walkers Magazine No. 17 Feb 1934
(Accessed 13th Feb 2016)



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