The Picnic

A guest post today from Steven Pearson.  He and his wife, Alison, live in Airlie Beach, about 25 km, 15 miles, from Proserpine, Queensland in northeast Australia.

October 2, 2011  “Hi there, just making contact with you.  Our mutual friend gave us your email address and a little information about you and your interest in plants and photography. Alison and I are keen plant people, and I am a keen photographer. We have driven our car around Australia three times, going slowly looking for wildflowers. Then photographing what we found, plant or insect or animal and some scenery; and of course taking shots of each other in our element.”

 “We don’t have Internet in our home and are not very up-to-date with modern technology. About once a week we visit our shire council library and use the Internet there. We lived the past 40 years in the bush in National Parks and had limited communications. We are retired now and live simply.  Our skills now are pretty much limited to using the home laptop computer for our photos and using the council desktops for researching Google sites for information.”

October 20, 2011  “Greetings.  We have had a little look at one of your sites (blog), seems like you have a lot to talk about.”

November 6, 2011  “Hi there.  Hope all is well for you and your family.  Ours is okay at present. Alison and I have also been moved about because of my job.  Over the last 35 years we have been moved from National Park to National Park on the Sunshine coast area of south Queensland, to central highlands in inland Queensland at a few National Parks; then further north to half way up the state to Whitsunday region, where we have settled.”

Note:  Our virtual friendship has blossomed since that initial contact in October, and weekly correspondence such as the one you’re about to read regularly enter my Inbox.  I have so enjoyed getting to know Steven and Alison and treasure their interesting correspondence and friendship.  The email below is in response to my post, Disappearing into the Pines: Remembering Sections of the Trail.

February 6, 2012

Greetings again, hope all is well.  It is Monday again, and we are over town again.  So I have my one hour on the computer at the library.  If there are no people waiting, we are allowed to stay longer if we have the time ourselves. The library people are really nice and fun.

I read your article on the trek, much grander than any I have ever done. A five-day trek was about the most I ever did, but it was never on any trail or road. I explored the unexplored gorges and valleys of the parks I managed. I felt that if the conservation values were important enough to make it a reserve, then it was important enough for me to get to know the area I was managing.   I developed management plans for a few of them. I even went through other areas doing assessments of their conservation values and submitted the assessments along with proposals to Government that the tenure be changed.  The areas come under official conservation management, and a couple that were not politically opposed were approved and gazette (published) as under a conservation management title. When I went on treks, I usually took one or two others with me for safety. Amazingly, each one had incidents that were their own.

I usually traveled really lightly.  I had a freezer bag for food and a three-liter coca cola bottle full of water in a sling bag as well as a few clothes, a sleeping bag, a small tent that had no poles.  I tied the top of each end to a tree.  Had a blow up pool mat for mattress, a metho cooker base, a saucepan, a skillet, a cup and knife, spoon, and fork.  And of course maps, compass, and camera.

One trek I had to undertake was a rescue without any preparations.

Australia Day 1991 a helicopter took three trips from township of Finch Hatton, west of Mackay, near Eungella National Park.  (We were there for eight years.)  The helicopter took important dignitaries on a joy flight to the highest mountain peak in the area, AND DROPPED THEM OFF FOR A PICNIC on Mount Dalrymple, which was in Eungella National Park.

It had been named by Henry Finch Hatton, one of the Finch Hattons from “Out of Africa”.”  HE CLIMBED THE MOUNTAIN ABOUT 1910.  The locals had invited his grandson, Lord Finch Hatton, Earl of Nottingham and Winchelsea in England, back for the big day as special guest, to Finch Hatton township named after him.

ANYHOW, THE CLOUDS RUSHED IN AND THE HELICOPTER WAS NOT ALLOWED TO TAKE OFF.

I was with them as safety watch and conservation observer to see they didn’t interfere with the park. I was a specialist search and rescue leader with the Queensland State Emergency Service. After using the helicopter radio for contact with the airport and other officials, it was decided that the clouds could stay in for weeks and decreed that I should lead the dozen people down the mountain side, through the jungle, and into the valley below.

The group had a chicken and champagne lunch. At 2 p.m. I got them together and got them moving. They had no water, only 2 torches from the helicopter.

One English Earl, about 65 years old; one politician member of Legislative Assembly aged 65; two local councilors about 50 years old. One had only one arm; he had blown the other arm off with his shotgun getting through a fence some years earlier.  This caused a stir in the way down when it got dark, and I was taking them along the cliff edge that dropped off 100 feet.  I organized them all to form a chain and hold hands with the person each side.   One arm meant one hand; the person behind held onto his belt.

I was at the front and had one torch pointed down and back to light the way.  The one at the rear had the other torch pointed down and forwards lighting the way.

One man was an important local sugar cane farmer, and he was 74 years old.  A 73-year old town lady that was there just to be there.  She paid to be there with the Earl.  The local school head master, a short well- rounded lady had problems getting over logs as we went down.  She really hugged the logs.  She was so unfit, and everyone was in good dress clothes and shoes.  After a few weeks I heard that the school principal had got lots of ticks on her, and being single had to go to a doctor to get treatment and tick removal.

Well it looks like my time is up, and I have to cut it off here.  Will have to tell more next time.

Stay under the Lord’s covering.

Regards,

Alison and Steve

PS

I remembered that I failed to tell what happened to the helicopter left on the granite outcrop on top of Mount Dalrymple. The pilot tied the propeller down to the body and walked away with us. It was left in the cloud, wind and rain until the next day when another two-seater helicopter came out from Mackay to Finch Hatton and picked up the pilot. They watched and waited until it looked like there was a gap in the clouds on the mountain and flew up and dropped the pilot back not far from his helicopter. He got it going and left as quickly as was allowable. The cloud came back in quickly and did not clear away properly for quite a few days.

Thank you Steven and Alison for your friendship and sharing your interesting and sometimes funny renditions of life in the Australian Bush.

Be sure to read more details of the rescue from Mount Dalrymple in next week’s sequel, The Lord-God-and the Path of Light.  Don’t miss it.

Just a few facts: 

Mount Dalrymple is the highest peak in the Central Queensland section of the Great Dividing Range called the Clarke Range. The mountain has an elevation of 1259 metres. It is amongst the higher peaks in the Australian state of Queensland and located 858 km northwest of Brisbane, and 50 km west of Mackay. The peak and surrounding ranges are covered in dense tropical rainforest and forms part of the Eungella National Park.

Eungella (meaning “Land of the clouds”) is a national park in Queensland, Australia, 80 km west of Mackay, and 858 km northwest of Brisbane. The original inhabitants are the Goreng goreng (goo-rang goo-rang) people. The park is covered by dense rainforest and is known for its platypuses. The national park was established in 1941 and is situated on the Clarke Range. To the north-east, Mount Dalrymple and Mount William are two separate peaks, which are the same height at 1,259 m. Eungella is the lowest part of the range and looks over the Pioneer Valley to the east.

http://www.australianexplorer.com/eungella_national_park.htm

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About corinthrose

Born again Christian, helpmate of 42 years, domestic engineer of two children, GRANDmother of six darlings, professional volunteer, fanatic photographer, and a wanna be writer. Occasionally, infatuated with family history, flower photography, and traveling with my hiking buddy.
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One Response to The Picnic

  1. I love this! What interesting people. I particularly enjoyed this comment: “We have had a little look at one of your sites (blog), seems like you have a lot to talk about.” Can you imagine bringing those people down the mountain? Great post.

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