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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)

Range of the ACT. Transport was by private cars. We rattled up the Hume Highway, then mostly unmade and horribly corrugated. One car broke down at Yass and had to be towed the rest of the way to Canberra where it was left, its occupants making their way home by either train or air after the trip.

In the fifties there was little or no interest shown by walkers for the northwest of the State, but the Grampians Easter camp and the long weekends in the Otways were always popular with Gronow's van usually pressed into service. Leaders of weekend or longer walks during the early fifties included Peter Salmon, Ron Abbott, Peter Becker, Lorraine Richey, Bill Horton and Heather Stevens. At the end of the decade some of the popular leaders were Lorton Fox, Peter Ingram and Lothar Kottek. Members who led right through the decade included Frank Pitt, Fred Halls, Felix Harding and Heinz Wolff.

Country railway station waiting-rooms seemed to encourage impromptu square- dancing. It would keep the crowd warm until the train arrived. Bush dances were known as barn dances and the Club usually held one every year in one or another country hall, music provided by portable gramophone or Frank Pitt's concertina. One year a barn dance was held in an abandoned billiard saloon deep in the Macclesfield scrub. The building had been put up by a couple of billiard enthusiasts, but had since deteriorated after the owners evidently lost their initial zeal.

For many years the Club met on Friday nights: only a few trips began on the Friday evening as many people worked on Saturday mornings. Committee meetings up to 1956 had been held in a corner of the VRI Club room, with the hubbub of a roomful of bushwalkers filling the air. A more peaceful environment for the Committee was found first at Jerram Hall from 1957 to 1960 and then afterwards at the VRI on nights other than Club room evenings. Air-conditioning was less common in city buildings then, so at Jerram Hall on stifling warm summer nights the meeting would adjourn to continue open air on the Treasury lawns opposite.

Back in those days an Annual General Meeting would often attract well over a hundred members, all crowding into Room 110. Such a meeting would sometimes continue up to midnight when something contentious was debated; then there would be a rush to catch the last train or tram home.

In the early fifties there was a general meeting every month and policies and issues were often hotly debated. In August 1953 a number of newer members, who were growing tired of the frequent business