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Sincerely Wrong

by John Morris

Sincerely Wrong - Sincerity is not always enough

The Bushwalkers

The walk from Kanangra Walls to Katoomba is described as "one of the Classic longer walks of the Southern Blue Mountains". (1)

The route traverses some of the most spectacular scenery of the Blue Mountains with waterfalls , rugged rock faces, cavernous drops and, if you are lucky, animals in their natural habitat. Two Johns decided to take up the challenge. Being novices at this walk, the two of us were dropped off at Kanangra Walls carpark at 10.00 am Sunday morning by our dutiful wives. Both Johns were expected back at work the next day and we thought that we could meet the challenge of completing the walk within 12 hours (category hard and 45 km). wishful thinking perhaps! The route gave us spectacular views of Kanangra Falls, the Thurat Spires, took us past Mt High and Mighty, then up and over Rick, Rack, Roar, and Rumble (the names are genuine) and onto Mt Cloudmaker. There is a cairn at the top of Cloudmaker holding a log book and at my last visit a "No turn right" sign dropped off by some comedian bushwalker. (The picture was taken on another occasion)

There are a number of competing tracks and care is needed as you pass through the area north of Cloudmaker to get on the ridge that descends to the Cox's River close by Kanangra Creek. We reached the river at about 5.00 pm ready for nourishment. A short break and we had to move.  The plan was to walk down the south side of the river to a point where the White Dog Fire Trail met the river on the north side. This would eventually join the road in Megalong Valley and the car park in a picnic area where we had left my Fiat 500.

The problem was that it got dark. There was no moon that night. But we had to move, like it or not. Holes in the ground were not detected, some spots that we thought were holes in the ground were not. We would walk up to a dark patch only to find that it moved, cattle were present. Eventually we decided to walk in the river where we could get the maximum exposure to the available starlight. 9.00 pm saw us at the White Dog Fire trail.

From there on it was a case of "keep walking". At midnight, it was decided to stop for a rest. Both Johns downed packs and lay on the road for a snooze. We had no concerns about traffic on the fire trail. After 15 - 20 minutes we moved off again. Another 15 - 20 minutes later I noticed that the cliffs of Narrow Neck were on the left, they should have been on the right, the track being on the west side of Narrow Neck. We had lost ˝ hour because of that error.

Two sincere walkers - definitely - but sincerely wrong.

We reached the car at 3.00am, not the best time to drive in our condition. But we did arrive home safely, thankfully.

GPS - A better way?

In a different setting entirely, I had slipped into Murwillumbah for a long weekend to visit my eldest daughter and her family. On the way up I lost a big filling leaving a pin projecting from the base of the tooth. The pin was impossible to avoid, continually impacting on my tongue causing pain, and an abscess if I was not careful. By Friday evening I could take it no longer and decided a dental visit was required.

Searching through the Yellow Pages, the nearest surgery open Saturday morning was at Mermaid Beach. Knowing the general direction but needing guidance to get to the precise surgery location, I was given a GPS unit. I was told that this was far better than a street directory and was guaranteed to deliver me to the destination.

My plan was to drive to the freeway via the Tumbulgum bridge over the Tweed River, then onto the Gold Coast highway at Banora Point. This was the quickest way to go. The alternative via Terranora would take me through urban roads with 60 - 70 km speed limits and cost at least 10 minutes additional travelling time. I was amused when the GPS unit indicated that the Terranora route was the way to go. I got to the surgery my way and the tooth problem was dealt with satisfactorily.

The return trip saw both the GPS and my local knowledge coincide until I reached Sexton's Hill where you turn off to Terranora. You could almost see the GPS unit jiggling with anxiety when I did not make the turn. From then on, every time I came to a major intersection, the GPS directed me to turn right (I ignored the message). Then further down the freeway, at every intersection or "U" turn bay, up would come the message "Make a U turn". I should have turned the unit off, for it got a bit frustrating knowing that I was right and the GPS was wrong, but "Why?"

On returning to Tumbulgum, and watching the GPS display when it was safe to do so, I woke up to the fact that the bridge across the Tweed River at Tumbulgum was not programmed into the GPS software. It was not as if the bridge had been constructed last year. The bridge was opened in 1986. The software, if it did not pick up the bridge, at least should have shown the car ferry that used to operate 500 metres west of the bridge location.

Personalising the GPS unit: it was definitely sincere in its belief in the advice being given, it did give directions that would have got me to my destination, but it was not the best way to go. The GPS was missing a critical bit of information so for my purposes the GPS was sincerely wrong.

Defeat in the Outback

Karl Goeschka and his partner of 11 years, medical student Gabrielle Grossmeuller, were touring Australia's dry inland in a hired Britz camper van. They had driven down the Oodnadatta Track, which parallels the old rail line from Port Augusta to Alice Springs and decided to take a side track east from William Creek to Lake Eyre, just to have a look. It was December 1998 - summer in the interior is really hot. To gaze over the Lake is quite an achievement, just to get there a magnet for avid explorers, flying over the lake in a small plane at 500 feet is magic.

The Austrian tourists headed for Halligan Bay on the western shore of the Lake some 64 kilometres from Williams Creek, the nearest bit of civilisation. At the bay the pair decided to turn their 4WD vehicle around and in the process got bogged in sand. The position of the vehicle was such as to lift 2 diagonally opposite wheels off the "ground". The vehicle was without differential locking devices and with the application of power to the drive train, the two suspended wheels simply spun and the vehicle could not move.

In evidence to the coronial inquest Goeschka indicated that he deflated the tyres but had no way of measuring the tyre pressures, and was unsuccessful in attempts to move the vehicle from the sand. The attending police officer later reported that the tyres still had 34 lbs per sq inch of pressure. He dropped the tyre pressure down significantly, spent 10 minutes to remove sand from under the vehicle "then drove the vehicle out of the bog with minimal difficulty" (2).

Not being able to move the vehicle the pair decided to walk back to Williams Springs. Goeschka turned back after one day's walking. Grosmueller decided to keep going. They shared the remaining water - 9 litres for Grossmueller and 3 litres for Goeshka.  When found, Grossmeuller still had 7.5 litres of water. Given the temperatures of the days estimated at between 43 and 460 C, the lack of any shade beside the road at all, and the cloudless sky, Grossmeuller had not consumed sufficient water to offset the loss of body moisture and could not survive. The coroner's finding was that Grossmueller had died from dehydration, heat exhaustion and exposure.

This sad case is an example of the impact of lack of knowledge of the outback and of sincerity gone hopelessly wrong. The pair had been given little training from the supplier of the camper van, no instructions either directly or by way of an instruction manual as to what to do if…!  The vehicle was not in an impossible situation as evidenced by the relative ease of the attending police officer in shifting the vehicle. The pair were clearly ignorant of the effect of the high temperatures on the body even though Grosmueller was a medical student, and the keys to survival - Stay with the vehicle, Stay in the shade, Conserve water, Prepare signals - eg fire, mirrors, and ground markings.

Sad to say M/s Grosmueller was wrong in her assumptions that she could go one better than the conditions, and get back to Williams Creek without aid. Sincere - yes but wrong, and the wrong in this case was fatally wrong.


Solomon noted in his presentation of helpful living suggestions that "there is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death". Proverbs 14.12 (3)  Jesus expanded this suggestion likening life to a walk where there are two directional choices. He pictures (in Matthew chapter 7) a broad way with a wide gate that is easy to pass through, and by extension the road is easy to navigate, smooth on the feet, with a crowd on the road for the good life and pleasant company. No stiff climbs, no problem road surfaces, no need for 4WD traction. There is a punch line but no joke - the road leads to destruction.

A little further in the chapter Jesus directs our attention to some who earnestly believed that they were on the right track. They disclosed works that they thought were consistent with those who acknowledged Jesus as Lord, and were consistent with life on the narrow way, they prophesied, cast out devils, and did many wonderful works. Note Jesus' comment which I am sure was said with tears in his eyes, "Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you. Away from me you evildoers". Matt 7:23 (3)

By way of contrast is the alternative route, there's a small gate that is hard to find, and a narrow difficult road to traverse. There are few in comparison walking on this road. However, it is a route that is worth the trouble to discover and to persevere with as this route leads to life. Paul's prayer for the church members at Philippi was that they might remain sincere (or pure) and "without offence till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness" Phillipians 1:10-11. To the church at Rome Paul wrote the following, "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good"  In his letter to the Hebrews in Rome, Paul gave what could be seen as the secret to right living, "Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water" Heb 10:22 (3)



1.   sourced 13.04.2008

2.  Finding of Inquest. Wayne Cromwell Chivell. SA State Coroner.   Page 2  Sourced 24.04.2008

3.  Scripture taken from the Holy Bible,NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zonderman Bible Publishers.

This article and the pictures it contains are Copyright © 2008 by John L Morris.  Used by permission.

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