Thursday, September 15, 2005

A record crowd of 15 people climb Crookneck, 3 September 1933

Queensland’s climbing women became big news in the 1930s. The 1934 efforts of Queensland climbers Muriel Patten and Jean Easton in snatching the first female ascents of the First Sister in the Blue Mountains from under the noses of their southern sisters was taken up by Brisbane newspapers with gusto. The Truth proclaimed: ‘This exploit astonished the less adventurous Southerners, who have not taken mountaineering so seriously, and did not realise that the Queensland girls have left the rest of Australia far behind in this exacting and exciting sport.’ There were many articles and photographs published in the local press about their exploits on the crags in southeast Queensland and northern New South Wales. One full-page story in the Brisbane Truth in 1934 featured glamorous studio photographs of these ‘modern maids of the mountain’. The story explained they were all members of a climbing club, started by Bert Salmon in 1926:

There are 15 girls attached to the club, among whom are several very capable and daring climbers…Jean Easton (Windsor) and Muriel Patten (Wooloowin) are the leaders of the women’s section. These two agile maids caused a stir recently when, during a holiday in the Blue Mountains, they accomplished some very dangerous and difficult climbing among the rocky pinnacles of those ranges…Miss Easton probably has done more mountaineering than any girl in Brisbane. She and a girl companion were the first two girls to reach the summit of Mount Lindesay (4300 feet) and holds a similar honour in connection with the treacherous eastern face of Tibrogargan (Glass House group)…Recently a party of 18 members of the club climbed the formidable east face of Tibrogargan and the precipitous heights of Crookneck in company with a Fox Film cameraman…The girls in the party were Jean Easton, Muriel Patten, Lexie Fraser, Hazel Rigby, Ena, Lydia and Kathleen Robinson, Shirley Miller, Ellinor Byth, Valerie North, Mary Hansen, and Sonia Dimes (of Beerburrum). The girls’ climbing attire consists of shorts, blouse or jumper, sandshoes and no stockings.

Picture: Cliff and Lexie Wilson collection.

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