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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)

located the van. Meanwhile Otto had continued on his merry way, not realising that he was 13 people short until the afternoon tea stop. Imagine Otto's surprise when confronted by his 'lost souls' coming to meet him from the other direction, at the end of the 19-kilometre ridge walk.

Lopez reported in the News, December 1977, that Graham Hodgson's Airey's Inlet beach walk turned into a stroll through Geelong after the van caught fire. The scene was set when the van started spluttering at Geelong, near the Ballarat turnoff, finally coming to rest outside a milk-bar. Denis piled everyone out and attacked the black smoke billowing from the engine with the fire extinguisher. It must have worked very well, because by the time people got out their cameras there was nothing left to see, although the fire brigade did make an appearance.


Stop again. Look. Remember these mountains. It is for them that we came.
Rosemary Rider, News, September 1971

The walking, in eight stages, of the Victorian section of the Alpine Walking Track (AWT), from Walhalla in the south to Tom Groggin on the New South Wales border - a distance of 264.8 miles, 21.5 days' duration and 57,800 feet climbed * - transcended the mere epic. It was the brainchild of the Walks Secretary Graham Mascas, of 'exploratory walks' fame. Graham did not take part in any of the walks ('he wasn't silly'). It was enough apparently to have hatched the diabolical project that brought the cream of the Club to their collective knees (preferably in deep snow). The details of this saga are to be found in Walk 1979, collated by the editor, Arthur Francis.

At the rendezvous point on the first night of stage 1, Walhalla - Thomson River, van drivers Rob Hayes and Hugh Duncan discussed the size of the 'minimum requirement fire' necessary to light the walkers across the Baw Baw Plateau. Meanwhile Graham Wills-Johnson's party had encountered extreme weather conditions, with deep snow covering the track. The going was painfully slow. Two dropped out earlier in the day due to cramp, and a third was near collapse as the day drew in and the light failed. A forced camp was made on soggy ground. The situation stabilised. A sleepless leader estimated that they were in fact very near to their intended camp site. In the pale morning light his calculations were confirmed.


* Graham Wills-Johnson's records