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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)

We contacted base by radio and were told that they had an unconfirmed report that the five teenagers had been found. While we waited the wag of the party tuned the radio into the broadcast band, 'to get the news'. We were greatly amused to find the stations already trumpeting the fact that the teenagers had been found.

The party that had found the five teenagers had been moving upstream along Badger Creek but were not clear as to their exact position, so one searcher and one of the lost teenagers climbed up the side of Badger Creek to reach the road on which we were waiting by coincidence within 300 metres of us.

We reported their arrival to base and left two of our number on the road with them. We set off with a few packs, containing dry clothes and sleeping bags, down the side of the mountain. Before long we were sopping wet from the thighs down, our parkas were streaming water and covered in mud, snow kept cascading off the undergrowth. We soon dropped below the snowline, but it didn't change the pattern of fallen trees, thick scrub, dogwood, beech and fern trees everywhere. It took at least half an hour to get to the other teenagers and searchers.

Two of the teenagers were still capable of walking so they were escorted out by some of the bushwalkers. The other two, a girl aged 12 and a I5-year-old boy, couldn't walk and had to be carried out. Groundsheets were spread out and their wet clothes changed for dry ones. As the thin nylon socks were peeled hack off the boy's feet I could see the blue-black of his toes - a colour I have never forgotten. We slid the girl and boy into sleeping bags and set about making stretchers from poles cut from the bush.

By now the rest of the bushwalkers, who had been brought in from the Healesville end, had arrived and people were everywhere. Soon the bushwalkers began to cut a track straight up the side of the valley. I, too, gave a hand with my machete. The stretchers came up behind us, eight men to a stretcher carried shoulder high. About halfway up they changed over stretcher bearers. I handed someone my machete and took up a position at the downhill end of one stretcher. The occupant was lashed in and covered completely by a groundsheet as protection against water coming off the scrub. 'And who have we here?' I said, trying to be cheerful as I lifted the groundsheet flap. It was the bright eyes of the girl that I saw looking at me. She had been a tower of strength to the boys, so we had been told. 'Will we be on the road in 10 minutes?' she asked. I muttered something about it not being far now as I looked up at the steep mountainside and endless scrub ahead. I tucked the cover back about her face.