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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)

Another operator used was Jack Baxter, who in late 1979 came to the rescue with two brand new vans, unique in that they were designed with passenger- rather than furniture-carrying as their principal purpose, even though they were still registered as furniture vans. Comparatively comfortable, they were initially driven by Jack himself, but we were glad to see Denis back again as a part-time employee of Jack's, driving for our Sunday walks For the next four years Jack's vans were regularly used by the Club, with occasional use of buses for long trips.

In mid-1984 Jack became ill and decided to retire from business and dispose of his vans. Jim Hedstrom, a Club member who regularly attended day walks, was very concerned at the possible permanent loss of van transport and negotiated with Jack an arrangement whereby one of the vans would be offered to the Club at a very reasonable price of S14,000. Jim initially proposed that the Club borrow $10,000 to purchase the van, and that with a levy of $1 per person per walk, plus an additional $1 per trip levy on visitors, the loan could be paid off over three years, after allowing for maintenance costs and other expenses. Denis would he employed by the Club as driver. Jim pointed out that the use of van transport was what made our Club unique. Compared to car transport as used by most other clubs, travelling as a group made for good social contact. Buses could not provide the same environment with their forward-facing seats, as well as being more expensive. By this time, there was only one other van passenger licence-holder remaining - Norm White, and he was committed to YHA bushwalkers.

Incorporation of the Club, which had been completed the previous year, gave the Club a legal existence and allowed it to own property and borrow money. The Transport Regulation Board did not wish to see the passenger licence transferred to a new owner, but we were able to register the vehicle as a private omnibus. This allowed us to carry Club members and visitors, but we could not charge fares. To ensure that walks' income continued, fares would be replaced by a walks' charge; in other words, walkers would pay for going on the walk, not for the transport. There were many other issues to be settled, such as garaging, cleaning and maintenance.

A well-attended half-yearly general meeting in August 1984 resolved to purchase the van from Jack, generously assisted by Jim Hedstrom who personally financed the purchase until the Club could arrange a loan. There was some urgency, as Jack's health was deteriorating - he died shortly after the arrangements were completed. The Committee appointed a transport Subcommittee (Tony Stapley and Jim) and walks' charges were increased.