Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Climbing 'the living rock'

In early November 1927, Bert Salmon (pictured), now 28, and Lyle Vidler, 21, set out to climb one of the last virgin summits in Queensland—Egg Rock. They caught the train to Nerang and walked 35 kilometres into the Upper Numinbah valley. An inspired Lyle Vidler recalled the evening: ‘Darkness fell long before we spied the light of the inn at Advance Town but a glorious full moon illuminated the dusty road and the dim aisles of the bush, whilst the purling rapids of the Upper Nerang sang in our ears as we plodded along to the incessant chirrup of crickets, and other small bush sounds…After a short walk, we were rewarded with a first glimpse, through the tree tops, of the goal which had drawn us so far on foot. A few hundred yards brought us to a clearing from which we had an uninterrupted view of this tremendous rocky column. Bathed in the flood of moonlight with the star-studded velvety sky above and the high mountain walls beyond, the Egg Rock suggested a huge antediluvian monster of unheard-of dimensions rearing his colossal head in an endeavour to overlook the confines of his primeval domain.’ They were up at dawn next morning and began their climb, unroped, as Vidler recounts: ‘Slowly we advanced up the sheer wall, aided here and there by the presence of stunted and hardy plants which projected invitingly from small cracks in the living rock.’ After around 100 metres of climbing, they reached the summit at five past six in the morning. The two friends built a cairn around the trunk of ‘a small oak’, a flag pole for what had become Salmon’s traditional calling card—a small Union Jack.

Picture: A. A. Salmon collection.