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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)

By various means and after some waiting and assembling, my group was driven by Army drivers up a new jeep track to the area around No.1 Divide. There, we were told, was the advance base and from there we would receive our detailed search instructions. By this time there were parties searching in the watershed of the Jamieson River who were out for several days before returning to base. I never received those detailed search orders as, in the twilight, news came that Bill Bewsher had spotted clothing from a helicopter - a press charter, I think. Further sweeps located Freda Hargreaves's clothing and then her body. Whilst it is not clear what happened, she had found her way onto the face of Mt Magdala, fallen and, unable to climb up, made a rope of her clothing in an attempt to get down. This, not surprisingly, broke and she fell again. In this process, she broke her leg and ultimately died of exposure.

But that was not all known at the time.

With others, I was dispatched back down the jeep track. The plan of action was that some mountaineering types would climb down with ropes to the body, secure it and lower it to a stretcher party waiting below. The body would then be carried out down a spur to a road. I was to form part of the party waiting below.

This all went more or less smoothly, apart from a belay point giving way whilst the late Miss Hargreaves was en route to terra firma, no doubt compounding the damage she sustained. A stretcher party of twelve then carried her out to a bulldozer from the Forests Commission which came up the spur to meet us. All concerned were very grateful for the relief, for whilst the burden was not heavy, the task was far from pleasant. The last I saw, Miss Hargreaves was strapped to the protective canopy of the bulldozer, which unfortunately managed to clip a dead tree that predictably fell on the canopy. No one envied the task of the Coroner's assistant.

And so the slow return by bus to Melbourne, arriving a little before dawn. The drive home in the powder-blue police car of the day concluded a rather anticlimactic search. It only remained to explain to one and all how the matter was misreported in the press and to try to sort out relations with the Sydney group, whose Christmas trip had taken such an unfortunate turn.

Mt Donna Buang seemed to be a favourite place for getting lost: one weekend in September 1966 fifteen teenagers got lost at the snow while sightseeing. By Monday night five had still not been found so Search and Rescue was called out.

I, Barry Short, was one of about 40 bushwalkers who turned out and were taken by police bus to Warburton and bedded down in the local hall for the night.

We were up at 5.00 a.m. and given breakfast. We were to search the north flank of Badger Creek. Thirty bushwalkers were to go around to Healesville and he brought up this route and the remaining 12 of us were to drive to the summit of Donna Buang and go in that way. We were dropped at the Turntable and tramped through the snow to the summit and on to the junction of Mt Riddell Road and Mt Juliet Road.