PICTURE: Back in the 70s, Garry Gageler and his mates regularly made their way onto Munibung Hill from what they called the White Cliffs site (above) on the north-west end. Further down the slope is a remnant endangered tree species, the Charmhaven Apple (Angophora inopina) (top). This track from the north-west – The North Forest Nature Walk – is one less travelled, but still a primary access for residents in the area.
When we were kids
Munibung Hill was the go-to place for Garry Gageler and his mates back in the early seventies.
“We used to access Munibung Hill by one of two locations in Macquarie Hills, either the end of Blaxland Road or what is now Lucilla Ridge off the crest of Lawson Road,” said Garry Gageler, reflecting on the many times he and his mates visited Munibung Hill in their younger days.
“We’d walk up gravel tracks, just before the crest of Lawson Road, we’d head right to connect with a path and head up a steep slope, that is really badly eroded these days.”
“Once we were at the first ridge line – we’re not at the top of hill yet – we’d check out the caves that were both sides of the track to the east and the north. We gave the caves names so we could let our friends know where we were going to meet. For example the Boomerang Cave got its name because the entrance was shaped like a boomerang.”
“On the north side about half way along this lower ridge we’d slide down the steep slopes on cardboard sheets that were greased with fat supplied by my grandmother – it really helped them slide a lot faster,” he said
Garry’s family lived in Cardiff. He attended South Cardiff Primary School and the visits to Munibung Hill were mostly on the weekends or during school holidays.
“We’re talking about the early 70s – 1970 to 1974.”
“Us kids were only about ten to twelve years old. There would’ve been about five or six of us, all boys – relatives and friends of mine at the time.
“We always walked from the South Cardiff area. Sometimes we’d take a packed lunch and make a day of it, but we’d have to be back home by 3 o’clock or we’d be in trouble.”
“Even as kids we thought the views were fantastic. You could say it was one of the main reasons we climbed Munibung Hill. I mean where else could you get to look over such a huge landscape out across the lake and beyond. Looking back, it was pretty special,” said Garry.
“Sometimes we’d walk along the main ridge, then head down a side track leading off to the west and we’d end up overlooking the gravel quarries. I understand it’s being developed as a housing subdivision. I guess this would be every month or so, but we never ventured too far off the tracks. Let’s face it, we were only kids and unsupervised. We had to take care of ourselves.”
“Having said that, we’d sometimes walk down a track on the north eastern side towards Warners Bay below the east-west saddle area. There was a peach orchard there and we’d try to pinch some fruit, but when the owners caught sight of us, they’d scare us off.”
Garry’s family moved from Cardiff to Glendale when he was older.
“I would have been about 15 or 16. Now it was from a different angle we’d get up onto Munibung Hill. It was from the north western side through a section we called White Cliffs, because it was bare and the soil was a whitish colour. My memory was that we’d ride our bikes up from Argenton – apparently it hasn’t changed much over the years.”
“The track we rode up must have been a bit too close for comfort, for some of the locals because if they saw us coming that’d take pot shots at us. We didn’t know it then, but later we found out it was what was known as saltpetre that they’d fire from a rifle to scare us off. We were just kids having fun. We kept to the formed tracks, we weren’t doing any harm or damaging any property, but that didn’t seem to matter.”
“As you can see we thought Munibung Hill was a special place then – and I still do,” says Garry.
“I hope that there’s no more subdivision approvals. To have such a great bush area right next to the lake and with such magnificent views. I mean, not many cities have that.” (16 July 2023)
MMM … Issue 39, August – September 2023