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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 trip to Big Pats Creek was very popular. There was a whole van load of us - maybe as many as 30 or more, which was a good quarter of the total membership of the Club. The early summer's weather was sultry, bringing out the snakes, and on the Sunday, after climbing over Mt Bride, a violent and sudden thunderstorm scattered the party amid the head-high bracken. Everyone made their own way, or in little groups, down to the road and the waiting van. I, being relatively new to bush-walking and to the area, found myself alone until rescued by Lloyd Reynolds, a member of some years standing.

As the van sped homewards the thoroughly soaked party broke into the ballad 'The Foggy Dew' and then other popular songs of the day. Looking back, it seemed everyone could sing much better then and remember the words of many stanzas of songs with ease. Camp fire singsongs often lasted up to midnight and if you wanted an early night it was best to camp well beyond the firelight's ring and out of earshot of the singers.

In the early days of the Club train trips were mainly confined to the electric-suburban network due to post-war coal shortages and industrial unrest. In the early fifties country-excursion trains were reintroduced and with them came cheap Sunday fares. This led to a lot of new walks, and day walks were no longer confined to outer suburban areas such as Diamond Creek or Ferntree Gully. Club walks began as far afield as Bungaree, Gisborne or Beaconsfield. Excursion trains departed early and returned late, so up to 10 hours of walking were available throughout the day; walks were often therefore very long - 16 miles or so (25 kilometres). Long-distance pack carrying was more common than today. Most people received not more than two weeks' annual holiday and a dedicated walker would spend nearly all that time on the track.

Programmed Christmas walks were usually of eight days duration made up of two days of travelling, five days of walking, plus one rest day when smalls and socks were washed. These walks usually commenced on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day morning (very few started on Christmas Day) with a train ride to the railhead then a taxi ride to the 'jumping-off place' (a walkers' term harking back to before the 1920s).

A typical eight-day walk in which I took part over the Christmas period 1954-55 was led by Fay Pitt. The train took us to Mansfield then a hire car drove us up to the Mt Buller village. We walked over Mts Buller, Cobbler, Speculation and Howitt, then crossed the Snowy Plains and by the Wellington River to Licola for a last camp. The final day was a taxi ride to the Heyfield Railway Station.

My first big walk was Warren 0lle's 1952-53 trip to the Brindabella