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Start
Contents
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18

Photogallery
Archive
1940-99


Walk
Magazine
Archive
1949-87


Newsletter
Archive
1949-
The Melbourne Bushies - Fifty years along the track (1940-90)
Chapter 1

Sylvia Wilson

The informal years 1940-44

Egon Donath, a founder of the Melbourne Bushwalkers (MBW), has a saying that if it weren't for Adolf Hitler the Melbourne Bushies wouldn't exist. Egon arrived from Austria in September 1939, just escaping the outbreak of war. He had neither money nor job so he went to Melbourne University to see if he could obtain a teaching post. It so happened that a German language teacher, Erich Ventur, with a language school in Little Collins Street, had been interned. Erich, being a good teacher, had built up a class with a considerable number of students who were eager to continue their studies. So, in 1940, Egon started up the Donath School of Languages at 117 Collins Street and many of these students, including Marjorie Elmore (then White), transferred to him. Egon mentioned to Marjorie that there were many German and Austrian refugees living in Melbourne who missed the outdoor recreation they had had in Europe, namely walking in the mountains during the weekends. So Marjorie went to the newsagents and bought a small book titled Fifteen Walks Around Melbourne. She asked Egon to invite the refugees to join up with the students so that the latter could practise their German and they could all walk together.

From a small beginning of about twelve people these day walks at weekends became very popular and more people attended as the word spread around. In those days areas around Melbourne that are now densely packed suburbs were quite remote, beautiful wooded areas, rich in birdlife - Rosanna, Eltham, St Helena, Wattle Glen to Hurstbridge, the Dandenongs, Mitcham, Ringwood, Warrandyte and Lysterfield all provided lovely walks. The great urban sprawl started in 1949-50. Few had cars so the walkers always travelled by public transport, predominantly train.