Burning Palms Loop (Grey Wolf) – Nov 2019

Track: Burning Palms Loop Track (Royal National Park)

Length: 8.2km
Grade: 4
Start/End: Garawarra Farm Carpark
Duration: 4 hours

After a long drive across Sydney (thank you Toby and Dad), we arrived at the Royal National Park at 10:00am. After checking out the portaloos in the Garawarra Farm carpark, we set off on our hike starting on the Garawarra Ridge Management Trail. After 3.11km we turned left to join the Coast Track, an epic multi-day walk between Bundeena and Otford. After a while we stopped at a lookout over Werrong Beach to have morning tea, making sure to not get too close to the edge of the cliff.

After morning tea we resumed our hike on the Coastal Track, walking initially along the newly constructed board walk, then down a steep slope, as we passed puffing walkers going the other way. Around 4.42km we entered the palm jungle. My friends and I found the palm jungle very exciting . After the palm jungle, we emerged onto a boardwalk over thick lush grass. We stopped briefly to admire some hang gliders floating above us.

Our next location on the walk was the Figure of Eight Pools. Sadly it was high tide and not safe to go near, so we instead continued to Burning Palms Beach and had lunch. We spent 30 minutes on the beach eating. After we finished eating we decided to explore the rocks, and one of us was silly enough to fall in and get wet.

After lunch we walked along the beach and headed back onto the track. This part of the Burning Palms Loop track was the hardest as it was up a very steep hill, all the way from the beach to the top of the ridge. It was so steep we needed to stop several times to allow everyone to catch their breath. On the track we stopped to look at some facts about the land and history on the signs along the track. After approximately 4 hours we had completed the Burning Palms loop track, stating and finishing at the Garawarra Farm Carpark. Everyone was hot and sweaty and ready for the long drive back to my place to cool down and relax. Thank you to all my friends for supporting me on the walk, and to Toby and Dad for giving up their time to allow it to happen.

 

 

Soccer Competition and BBQ – Dec 2019

We usually finish Term 4 with our traditional Iceblocking activity: this year we decided to do things a bit differently! After the unfortunate cancellation of the District Soccer Competition due to heavy rain a few weeks prior, the Cubs voted to finish the term with a Soccer night. Even better, we were joined by 1st Gordon and 2nd Turramurra, adding a bit friendly rivalry to the evening. It also meant a bit of initial chaos as we herded about 70 Cubs onto the three soccer fields at the St Ives Village Green (a HUGE thanks to David Howard from Primary Soccer, who kindly donated two sets of goal posts and let us use his professionally marked fields).

The Cubs enjoyed a couple of games of soccer, very professonally refereed by three of our of Scouts – thanks Luke, Lachlan and Alex. (More soccer photos in our photo gallery!)

For those not playing and younger siblings, there was also a game of bocce –  a ball sport closely related to British bowls and French pétanque. Traditionally a match is started by throwing a smaller ball, or jack, into the playing area. As it was a bit hard to see the jack, Cub Scout Bocce used a bright red, and now slightly dented drink bottle (thanks Nico!).

And how else to finish a fun evening then with a sausage sizzle – thanks to Garry and John for cooking what must have been about 120 sausages for a never-ending queue of hungry Cubs!

Another Stony Creek Cleanup – Nov 2019

It’s exactly a year after our last clean-up of Stony Creek in Gordon, and the area around our Scout Hall. This activity is back by popular demand from the Cubs, who are excited about what they might find this time. Last year we ended up with an abandoned bicycle, a shopping trolley, an office chair – and many bags of garbage.

After scouring the creek and bush, the competition is on for who has managed to collect the most garbage… Anna and her patrol have a strong claim for bragging rights, managing to  drag a cane chair from the depths of the valley back to the Scout Hall!

The end result is both impressive and depressing… the Cubs manage to amass an impressive collection of two shopping trolleys, a cane chair and a gold trophy – as well as five big bags of rubbish. But it’s sad that within a year of our last clean-up, there’s so much garbage that’s been thrown into the bush.

Spring Cub Camp – Oct 2019

Day 1: we put up tents and toast marshmallows

Despite the forecast of a wet weekend, 18 hardy Cubs headed off to Cataract Scout Park for our Spring Camp. A break in the rain allowed our Cubs to put up their tents, which they managed with minimal adult help… before retreating to the shed for some marshmallows by the fire.

Day 2: we learn some new skills in the morning…

The weather is overcast on our second day, but after some heavy overnight rain there’s some respite in the morning. Almost all the Cubs survived the night – a couple have retreated to the dormitory after a leak in their tent. After breakfast, we break up into smaller groups to brush up on some of our core outdoor skills…

1. Navigation

Armed with a compass, the Cubs create a basic compass around the bush, with a “hidden treasure” at the end. The groups then try and follow each other’s trails.

2. Cooking

Always a favourite activity, the Cubs make damper, cooking it over the campfire.

3. Bush Shelters

Utilising different “construction techniques”, each Cub group collects sticks and branchs, to build a basic shelter.

4. First Aid

From dealing with cuts and bruises to tying an arm bandage, the Cubs brush up on their First Aid skils.

…and have some fun in the afternoon!

To the untrained eye, our afternoon’s activity could look more like a forced march through a dangerous obstacle course than fun. But to the Cubs, Challenge Valley is one of the highlights of our Camp as the Cubs climb over obstacles, swing into pools, clamber through water-filled pipes and stomp through muddy puddles. They end up very wet and cold – and surprisingly happy!

We finish the day with two investitures

We finish our second day by investing Will and Parker, two of our newest Cubs. They make their Cub Scout promise and are welcomed to the 2nd Gordon Cub pack with a rowdy cry of 1-2-3 WOLF under a moonlit sky.

The day is not quite finished… before retiring to their tents, our exhausted Cubs enjoy some marshmallows – and iceblocks – by the campfire. It’s been a great day!

Day 3: we head underground as the sun comes out

It’s a cold but sunny morning on our final day, as we wake to a cloudless sky. A couple of Cubs volunteer to cook breakfast for us – and others take advantage of the last opportunity to poke sticks in the fire. (If there was an Olympic event for running around with burning sticks, the 2nd Gordon Cubs would be contenders for a world record…!)

The highlight of Day 3 is the Caving Adventure, with the Cubs heading underground and squeezing through some tight passages as they explore the natural caves at Cataract.

Then it’s time to pack up the tents, clean up the site and have a debrief with the Cubs before we head home. The verdict: a great camp, but next time more activities – and more mud!

A huge thanks to Justeen and Shane (who ran the activities) at Cataract Scout Park – and to David, Simon, Garry, Rick and John – our Parent Helpers who helped run the activities and ensure everything went smoothly.

Region Cub Challenge – Sep 2019

The Region Cub Scout challenge is designed to enable a Patrol of Cubs to work as a team to complete a range of activities that are both challenging and rewarding. The 2nd Gordon Cub patrol rose to the challenge, successfully completing all of the activity bases and learning a lot in the process.

  1. Australia

After a briefing by Region Cub Commissioner Martin Jones, the Cubs started with the “Australia” challenge. The content of this base was quite theoretical, and tested the Cub’s knowledge of our state shields, flags and emblems. Do you know the NSW state flower, animal, bird, fish and gemstone (the answer is: waratah, platypus, kookaburra, blue groper and black opal – and we even have a Fossil Emblem. the Mandageria fairfaxi).

2. Mapping

This station tested the Cubs’ knowledge of mapping: can they recognise key features on a topoagraphical map, and work out a viable route between two points on a map? The consensus was if we dropped the Cubs in a field somewhere with a map, they could find their way home… we might test this on a Monday evening one day!

3. Knotting

A largely practical test of knots, this base required the Cubs to work as a team to build a structure with rope and bamboo poles, that could be lifted off the ground without losing its shape (or falling apart). This required a number of knots, including lashings and clove hitches. While our Cubs normally groan when we teach knots on a Monday, they rated this as their #1 activity at the Cub Challenge!

4. Cooking

The most significant activity for the Cub Scout Challenge is the cooking base. Ideally we would have done some work and planning in advance of the event, but we entered the Challenge late, and really threw the Cubs into the deep end with this acitivity! The Cubs had to prepare and light a fire, cook a damper, meat and two vegetables and a hot drink and clean up – in 90 minutes. Despite some challenges keeping the fire going, the Cubs did a great job cooking lunch!

5. Compass & Navigation

A test both of navigation, teamwork and trust: each Cub must make their way blindfolded through a “minefield”. The other Cubs can only provide compass bearings and number of steps to walk, to avoid stepping on a mine.

6. First Aid

One Cub has sprained their ankle and has a bleeding nose. Another has burnt their hand in the fire… sounds like just another Cub Camp, but this time the Cubs are in charge of first aid. This base focussed on the practical application of first aid skills the Cubs have learnt.

7. Tracking and Environment

The last base for the day, this one tested the Cubs knowledge of tracking signs and how we should care for the environment. While they did quite well as a group, this one of of the stations where the Cubs learn the most, about different trail signs and markers.

It was a long and exhausting day for the Cubs, but they all had a great time – and most importantly they (and the leaders) learnt a lot and have lots of ideas to bring back to our unit. The Cubs even managed a third placing out of the “non-competitive” teams (as we entered a team that didn’t have the required spread of ages). We’re all looking forward to next year’s Challenge!

Grey Wolf awards – Aug 2019

Congratulation to Dylan A and Luke D, who achieved the Grey Wolf award (and were the first 2nd Gordon cubs to achieve this under the New Youth Program).

The Grey Wolf is is the peak award for a Cub. Earning this award requires initiative and commitment by a Cub Scout, and includes additional activities like leading an adventurous journey as well as achieving Outdoor Adventure Skills across at least three areas and completing six Special Interest Areas.

A big thanks to Rod, our district Cub Commissioner, who presented the award to Dylan and Luke. (The Grey Wolf Award is the only Cub badge that can be worn on the Scout uniform.)

Perhaps most importantly… at least for the Cubs… we concluded the evening with a small celebratory feast of chips and cake!

Ollie’s Grey Wolf hike – Aug 2019

It’s time for another adventurous journey, as Ollie K completes one of the activities required to achieve the Grey Wolf award. We’re walking from Taronga Zoo to Balmoral Beach, along the coast.

There’s iconic views of the city and harbour as the track follows the coastline. We make a side-trip down to a beach that was site of a WWII degaussing range (where cables were placed around the hull of ships, acting as a demagnetising agent to provide protection against magnetic mines). A bit further is a sign denoting the site where two of the Japanese midget submarines which entered Sydney Harbour in May 1942 were sunk by depth charges.

Near the middle of our walk is Clfton Gardens and Chowder Bay, which played an important role in the defence of Sydney from the 1890s until 1922 as the base for the Submarine Mining Corps, and later the Army.

The second half of the walk takes us up Bungaree’s Walkway to Georges Head, which was a restricted-access fortified military base until 2002. Now the old fortifications make a fun playground for the Cubs.

It’s then (almost) all downhill to Balmoral Beach, where we enjoy a picnic lunch before heading home.

 

Cubs Medieval Night – July 2019

The Cubs enjoyed a hugely successful Medieval Night to finish off Term 2.

The first step is to don some medieval costumes, traditionally worn by Cub Scouts in the 6th century BC.

This is followed by some intense sword-fighting and other medieval games, led by Ollie the Self Proclaimed King. (No Cubs were seriously harmed in these hostilities.)

And last but not least, the Cub Knights put away their swords, cuisses and faulds, and partake in a feast of chicken, corn bread and fruit, before we call an official end to the night.

A huge thanks to Simone, our guest Chieftess,for fearlessly taking on the challenge of running this magnificent evening!

Cubs visit the Wildflower Garden – Jun 2019

It’s our second visit to the St Ives Wildflower Garden, with the Cubs keen to earn their “Environment” badge. Their first task is to construct an “activity book” so they can write field notes on what they see. We’re in the expert and patient hands of Jenny the Ranger and Cub Tamer, who soon has the Cubs engrossed in creating their books.

Since the weather isn’t great, we start by looking and touching a few captive animals. The Cubs sketch and document the stick insect: as well as having unusual shapes to camouflage themselves, we learn that the males are smaller than the females, and possess functioning wings so they can fly a short distance.

Looking more like a scorpion but far less dangerous (at least, that’s what Jenny assures us) is the Spiny Leaf Insect.

Next is the blue-tongued lizard, the largest members of the skink family, which the Cubs were able to touch. When threatened, blue-tongue lizards their mouth wide and stick out their broad blue tongue; surprisingly, this one was not overly intimidated by our rowdy Cubs!

Last but not least is the Children’s Python, named after the scientist John George Children, who first described them in 1842. Currently 43cm long, it will grow to a little over metre.

We still have time for a short walk around the Wildflower Garden, with the rain holding off… unfortunately, and perhaps not surprisingly (considering that “quiet” is NEVER a word that has been used to described our Cubs), we don’t manage to spot anything!

Another great evening – many thanks to Jenny for hosting us!

Luke’s Grey Wolf adventure – May 2019

A number of 2nd Gordon’s Cubs are working hard to achieve the Grey Wolf award, the highest award a Cub Scout can achieve. Part of this achievement is to undertake an “adventurous journey”: Dylan led a Grey Wolf Hike in March, and the second adventurous journey was Luke’s challenging 15km bushwalk from Cowan to Berowra. There’s been a lot of planning by Luke including working out the route, organising logistics around the BBQ lunch and deciding what trains we need to catch.

The journey started with a train trip from Gordon to our starting point at Cowan, with Luke leading his patrol of five Cubs (supported by three adults and a Rover Scout). The first section is just over 8km to Berowra Waters, our lunch destination. There’s an early lession about not just relying on a map, but checking signage, as the Cubs walk straight past a “Great North Walk” marker and back up to the highway…

The first section is pretty hard work – the track crosses several valleys so there’s one fairly long climb as well as some steep descents. In a few places there are iron rungs bolted into the rock – and some interesting rock overhangs and caves to explore. As we get closer to Berowra Waters, there are nice views of Berowra Creek below.

The last stretch is on the free car ferry that takes pedestrians and vehicles across Berowra Creek. The Cubs cook a sausage sizzle lunch and enjoy a break at the Furber Recreation Reserve before the second part of our bushwalk.

Berowra Waters to Berowra railway station is only 5.5km – but it’s mostly uphill. All the Cubs are doing well as they power up the initial steep section from the creek, before reaching the Berkely Firetrail which is fairly flat, and goes past a nice lookout (Naa Badu Lookout – which means “see water”).

Everyone’s happy when we reach Berowra Station, with just enough time at Hornsby for an icecream while we wait for out connecting train…  There’s a few tired legs – the bushwalk involved almost 700m of vertical ascent – but it’s been another successful 2G outing!

Map of route