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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)

But it was the naturalists who aroused our interest in places hitherto unvisited - Hattah, Kulkyne, Little Desert, East Gippsland - these areas appearing for the first time on walk programmes of the 1960s.

Reference maps were contained in one expanding file (not the plethora of those of today). About half of these were home-made; not many official maps were suitable for use when walking. Since its inception the Club had made quite a number of its own maps. Sometimes leaders had to make do with the ex-Army 4-miles-to-the-inch transport maps. The larger-scale 1-mile-to-the-inch Army maps were often years out of date, a notorious example being the Ringwood map that took in the Dandenongs and foothills: its information was correct up to 1914 - important features such as the Silvan and Lysterfield reservoirs were not marked. Yet for many years it was still the best available map for the area. Perhaps a virtue of using a small-scale map was that the experience was like embarking on an adventurous exploration. In such situations the best navigational aid was to have with you someone who had been there before, retaining correctly a true mental knowledge of the terrain. Before joining the Club, I and another inexperienced walker tried a crossing of the high country using a 4-miles-to-the-inch map. We went safely up the Howqua but at Mt Howitt prudently turned back - those 300-foot contour intervals hid many a hill and vale. It was on the way back that we met some other walkers who said that the best walking club, on account of its map making, was the Melbourne Bushwalkers. I took their advice.

Commercially produced tourist maps were often simply reprints of pre-war editions, and the tracks shown on them could, on the ground, be hopelessly overgrown. I went on a Club walk in 1953 from Tidal River to Sealers Cove. It was a battle trying to deduce the whereabouts of the track as we pushed through the undergrowth. This now much-used track remained uncleared well into the decade. Some of the old tourist tracks in the Dandenongs also remained overgrown and uncleared for many years.

If some walking tracks were overgrown and hard to follow, access roads could be pretty rough, gravel roads being the norm. A trip up the Hume Highway to Albury and beyond was a bone-rattling ordeal over miles of corrugated road surface.

Up in the high country there was not the present rush of logging and tourist access roads of today. Trail bikes were unknown and 4WD vehicles few and far between. Bushwalkers of the fifties walked in an environment that gave a sense of remoteness and wilderness no longer possible today.