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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



The Melbourne Bushies - Fifty years along the track (1940-90)

the bushwalkers as capable searchers who also carried all the necessary equipment. From this grew the Search and Rescue section of the Federation of Walking Clubs (see: 'Search and Rescue', page 136). Fay Pitt became the first Club contact person for Search and Rescue.

Every decade produces `characters'. Perhaps the greatest from the 1940s was Emil Slade. Everything happened to Emil. If there was a stick coming out of the fire they'd warn him: 'Emil, watch that stick!' But whoops, he'd go over. During a day walk at Kangaroo Ground Emil was lying bare-chested in the sun. With a magnifying glass someone meanly set fire to his chest. Emil had been given a beautiful new white umpire's hat for a trip to Kosci. The last orders from his wife were to keep it nice. This was too much for everyone - they played frisbee with it. Charlie Carter was a tin miner and ex-drover who stayed on at the Pilot Creek tin mine huts; MBW would visit him and he would kill a sheep occasionally. On one visit Charlie had everyone in for dinner for a `leg of sheep'. Emil stayed quiet about this for a long time but eventually the worry got too much. If they'd eaten a leg off the sheep what had happened to the rest of it? On another trip it had rained a lot; when it stopped the group had to cross Whites River. Who was sent first to test it out? You guessed it - Emil. During a weekend walk to Werribee Gorge a group of MBW came across masses and masses of enormous mushrooms. Everyone was very wary but Emil knew about the European varieties and said they were edible. So he ate them and everyone stood around to see if he would drop dead. He lasted until July 1991 and is sadly missed.

The end period of the 1940s was known as the Era of the Long Hard Walks. Weekend and extended walks were in full swing. Long distances were covered and the walkers were young and tough. With only rudimentary maps available, there was great enthusiasm and a spirit of adventure going into the unknown. The `unknown', of course, had limited access and perhaps the remoteness of walking areas meant that bushwalkers came closer to nature. They'd come a long way in ten years from European-style rambles in the bush. They lived harder in those days and the extra adversity was accepted as par for the course. Equipment was much more primitive, food and clothing always cut to the minimum on these long trips. And despite the Split, the Club still incorporated the more light-hearted day walks with the sterner stuff. The Club had firm foundations and strong bonds of friendship to carry it safely into the 1950s.

With thanks to: Egon Donath, Norm Richards, Edna Richards, Fay Pitt,
Frank Pitt, Gordon Coutts, Felix Harding, Marjorie Elmore.