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The Melbourne Bushies

- Fifty years along the track (1940-90)

The Contributors


See 'Those Held in High Esteem', Chapter 18.


Happy Sundays splashing in the water at Cotter Dam (ACT); the over-powering perfume of apple and pear orchards in full flower on walks along Thompsons Lane (Box Hill North); the excitement of finding an intact nautilus shell while beach-combing at St Leonards (Port Phillip Bay); the history lessons given by Dad in various old country cemeteries; purchasing copies of Walk magazine from Jack Morrison at the International Bookshop; these all contributed to my interest in walking and the countryside.

In 1961 I teamed up with a fellow BALMite, Doug Pocock, who introduced me to the Bushies. BALM Paints (now Dulux) also had another MBW member, John Chennell, who had a stint as Wilky Manager.

For some time I had been hearing of the Club legend, 'Barrington Tops', and finally got to know this person on a long weekend walk to Barmah Forest, where a group of us, overcome by the photogenic beauty of several ground orchids, became separated from the main party for some hours, much to the chagrin of the leader.

I married Barrington Tops in 1966 (was this the last tin kettling the Club has had?); walked with the Club up to three weeks before Matt was born, and led a walk to Werribee Gorge with Matthew three weeks old. We continued walking on a regular basis with the Club until Tim arrived two years later. (Art Terry and the late Andy Price thought that they may have to act as midwives on a French Island walk a fortnight before Tim's advent.) I was instrumental in founding the Family Walking Group to the relief of childless walkers who were becoming tired of children on walks.

I have served on the Committee, been Club contact, helped with Walk and the News and I have often asked awkward questions at meetings.


(Editor's note — Spencer sadly collapsed and died on 18 April 1993 while running in the Puffing Billy fun race. He had shown great interest in the Club's history and was a willing contributor with his two chapters.)

I am an active walker with both the Melbourne Bushwalkers and Coast and Mountain Walkers of New South Wales. I first attended an MBW meeting one Friday in June 1965 in the Club room above Flinders Steet Station. The first person to greet me on entering the room was Ed Lawton. I soon became a member in August 1965. I have been on trips with the Club in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. I have walked with MBW along the Alpine Track from Walhalla to Tom Groggin on the Murray River beneath Mt Kosciusko, and along the Upper Yarra Track from Mt Whitelaw on Baw Baw Plateau to Warburton. I have climbed Mt Feathertop in winter's snow with Phil Taylor, run from Broadford to Yea with Art Terry, skied The Bluff with Bill Metzenthen, liloed the Snowy River with Merilyn Whimpey, canoed the Murray River with Doug Pocock and walked around the Prom in a day, swimming at each beach with Mark Tischler.


During the long summer holidays spent as a child in outback Queensland, I thought of the bush and 'camping out' (which we often used to do) as immensely exciting. This fascination has never left me. My first 'bushwalking' began in South Africa's Drakensberg mountains in 1968 when I was a member of the Johannesburg bushwalkers. In 1977 I came to Melbourne where I soon discovered the Melbourne Bushies. The Baw Baw 'walk-in' base camp, led by Martin Elias in 1983, was a memorable occasion. With borrowed gear (pack courtesy Ken MacMahon), new boots (courtesy Rossi) and all the 'base camp' paraphernalia imaginable I just about self-destructed. Against his better judgement a stalwart Russell Jones stuck around to make sure I reached the safety of the car park. Happier times followed. I recall a great navigation weekend in the Warby Ranges with Bob Steel, Rob Ayre, Jean Giese and Jopie Bodegraven doing his mountain goat impersonations, to mention only a few of a cast of thousands. Other good times that come to mind are Phil Larkin's Lorne weekend complete with spit roast and a great run against the dark to Erskine Falls, with the girls winning; the bull-ant saga in leafy Cockatoo with Dougie Crocker and that exhilarating walk led by Gerry Young in the Blackwood Range whipped along by wind and rain; the lilo trips with King of Shoalhaven Spencer George, various happy water nymphs and our 'hero' Mark Tischler. I also remember a trip led by Merilyn Whimpey on the Snowy, with a climb out via New Guinea Spur, never to be forgotten. Another memorable trip was up Mt Rose with Sylvia Wilson on a day that hosted no less than six walks due to the throng, when the medium became the easy and the easy the hard and Art Terry et al. running the ridges silhouetted against the setting sun. There have been classic trips and classic people too numerous to mention. Through my walking experiences and time spent on the Committee as Social Secretary and News Convenor, happily I came to know and value many of these people and places. As Michael Griffin so aptly expressed it: 'The marvellous sense of something previously unknown, now held dear.' ('A Special Visit to Lamington', Walk 1973)


I started walking with YHA Bushwalkers in early 1968, and during the next two years went on several Melbourne Bushwalkers' trips as a visitor. In early 1970 I moved to Sydney and spent the next four years with Sydney Bushwalkers. Returning to Melbourne at the end of 1973, I decided to join Melbourne Bushwalkers, becoming a member in April 1974. In 1975 I joined the Committee as a Vice-President, standing down after three years. In 1982 I was again elected as a Vice-President, then the following year as President, for what became a term of four years. The highlights of this time were two major landmarks in the Club's history: first, Incorporation in 1983 and, second, the purchase and operation of our own van transport in 1984.


I joined the club in 1961 and like many people threw myself into the bushwalking way of life. I was elected to the Committee in 1962 as Social Secretary which I remained for two years. I was also a Committee member again in the early seventies when I was heavily involved with Walk magazine. I led many trips over the years including Murray River canoeing, Barrier Reef kayaking, caving and Christmas trips. I also became involved with Wilky and have been on many work parties there.


See 'Those Held in High Esteem', Chapter 18.


I joined the Melbourne Bushwalkers in 1960 after buying a copy of Walk magazine. Very quickly I was absorbed into the bushwalking way of life and I went on many walks in rapid succession; the longer walks stretched over two weeks. While walking extensively throughout the Victorian mountains, I went to Cradle Mountain, and Southwest Tasmania (before the HEC drowned Lake Pedder), took up snow-walking and then skiing (a much more efficient way to travel on snow). I tried rock-climbing and canoeing, and travelled into the Mallee and Sunset Country. I also started going further afield, visiting the Gibson Desert, the caves under the Nullarbor Plains, Central Australia, and the Flinders Ranges. I then went trekking in Nepal and overlanding from there to Britain. I am a cartographer by profession. Bushwalking still plays a big part in my life and as much of my holidays as possible is still spent in the bush.


I am a professional engineer, keen landscape-photographer and earlier was a member of the Melbourne University Mountaineering Club. My favourite walking areas are the Victorian - New South Wales Alps and Southwest Tasmania. My first encounter with the Melbourne Bushies in Easter 1975 was a memorable one. We were camped overnight on the summit of Precipitous Bluff in Southern Tasmania in a fierce May storm, next to an MBW party consisting of Geoff Crapper, Ken MacMahon and Rob Harris. Next morning both parties set off separately in driving sleet to descend the North Wall and follow the stream into the shelter of the rainforest. Unfortunately we were not told that the stream disappeared into the sands a mere kilometre from the shores of New River Lagoon, leaving us in a ferocious tangle of ti-tree, bauera and cutting grass. Exhausted, we bivouacked in the scrub and next morning discovered the MBW party had also camped within shouting distance. So we teamed up to take turns in forcing a passage through the scrub to reach the choppy waters of the Lagoon.

I was a member of the Lake Pedder Action Committee and foundation member of its successor, the Wilderness Society. I spent 12 months photographing the Southwest Tasmanian wilderness, and in 1983 published a history of the long battle for Southwest Tasmania entitled, The Mountains of Paradise.


I joined the Melbourne Bushwalkers in 1961 and the Club has been a very important part of my life since then. I first learned of the Club when I bought a copy of Walk magazine; I then made contact and went on my first walk: Ballan - Whipstick - Mt Egerton.

I was most active in the 'sixties, going on many day and weekend walks all over Victoria, as well as New South Wales, Tasmania and New Zealand. I worked in country Victoria for three years until 1971, then returned to Melbourne and have continued participating in Club activities since then, going on various walks and joining the Mascas family on some of their memorable trips to such places as the Flinders Ranges, Central Australia, Barrier Ranges and a sailing trip in the Whitsundays.

I was Treasurer of the Club in 1964 and was on the Committee on and off for nearly 20 years, culminating in my presidency from 1979 to 1982. I have also been Club representative for Federation and for Search and Rescue. I was in the Search and Rescue team for a number of years, participating in a number of searches and search practices. I have also been map custodian, equipment officer, Walk magazine distribution manager and have led many day, weekend and extended walks.


I joined the Melbourne Bushwalkers in 1989. I remember that I approached my first walk with the Club to Angahook State Park with trepidation, particularly at the thought of a 16 km all-day hike. Initially, bushwalking held no appeal for me and I just tagged along with a close friend, Gwen Morgan, who was keen to try it. To my surprise I loved the day and today I would find it hard to imagine life without bushwalking and the Melbourne Bushies.

I have been on the general Committee of the Club for the last two years (1991 and 1992) with a keen interest in conservation. I am also a member of the newly-formed Conservation Subcommittee. My most memorable walk was a five-day backpack around the beautiful lakes and wonderful rainforest of Fraser Island in Queensland. Other favourite areas are Mt Feathertop, Wilsons Prom and the Grampians.


I joined the Melbourne Bushwalkers in 1965. My first walk with the Club was a weekend trip from Fernshaw via Mt St Leonard to Healesville. For 27 years I have walked frequently with the Club on Sunday walks and weekend and extended trips. I have led numerous walks - over 115; my first was in September 1966, a weekend trip from Tallarook to Mt Marianne and Yea.

Other activities that have been very much a part of my life in the Club are the Broadford to Yea marathon and bike rides (see pages 108-13). Weekend walks by train from the railway station of Broadford to that of Yea gave me the idea to run the marathon; the 50-kilometer trip between the two stations is completed in about six hours. Over the years I have also enjoyed leading many Club bike rides.

I have led track-clearing weekends in the Ada Valley. Club members cleared some of the thick undergrowth that hid the remains of timber tramlines.

Since 1985 I have led a yearly weekend to Cape Schank National Park, staying at the former Highfield homestead. There are long walks in the bush and along ocean cliffs, surfing and swimming in rock pools.

I have contributed articles to Walk magazine, including 'Bicycle Touring or Sit Down Running' in Walk 1980 and 'Pedal Power' in Walk 1985. I was on the general Committee during 1969, 1972 and 1981.


I joined the club in 1972 it was not a straightforward process. The first two or three visits to the congested clubrooms in Hosier Lane seemed to always coincide with either an Annual General meeting or half-yearly General Meeting. This would put me off for another six months, just in time for the next meeting.

My first trip was a day walk with Graham Mascas somewhere around Kinglake. It was magnificent, rained most of the day and we had to climb a quarry-like wall in the slippery mud. It was quite exciting really. I wondered, if the day walks were so entertaining, then what were the weekend walks like? Even better I found. My second walk was a pack carry down to the South Point at Wilsons Prom with Art Terry. I can still see Art's compact form accelerating through the scrub as I hobbled along in his wake trying to keep up.

The first person I spoke to in the chaos of Hosier Lane was Alma Strappazon; she took a kindly interest in the bewildered new face. Just as I was about to sign on the dotted line for Art's trip I can remember Graham Wills-Johnson politely enquiring as to whether I realised that the trip was rated hard and had I done much walking? 'Oh yes, some, not a lot,' I replied and dashed off my signature. Graham, I should have asked more questions, but then perhaps I would have missed out on a magnificent trip.

After a few false starts I finally discovered cross-country skiing in 1980, courtesy of a Howmans Gap ski camp. Walking seems to have suffered as a result. Skiing isn't so hot and dusty and if you have delicate feet, sensitive to track-bashing, then skiing's the answer. You also get to lie down a lot in pleasant surroundings. You can pretend the lethargy is entirely involuntary - which, for the first few years it is - later you can claim it was because of an unseen degree of difficulty that is only observable from this or that particular prone position. Skiing shares with walking the expectation of attaining a summit but replaces the downhill trudge with an exhilarating hoot. Still, walking does offer its own rewards in the off-season, a lot of it to do with the characters you meet.


I joined the Bushies originally at the beginning of 1976. Because of other commitments I wasn't very actively involved and eventually my membership lapsed in 1984. Things suddenly changed for me, however, and I rejoined the same year and became a very active member in the remainder of the 'eighties.

If I remember rightly, it could have been Walk magazine that attracted me to the Club. I know I wanted to participate in some of those lovely trips I'd read and dreamed about somewhere, and I also remember that I contacted the Federation of Victorian Walking Clubs for a list of the few clubs that existed at that time. The list included a brief outline about each club; I didn't want to join a club that denied the existence of women or a religious club, so at the time it didn't leave much choice. I remember my first walk was an 'easy' day walk somewhere near the Brisbane Ranges and I was very anxious at the start and very exhausted at the end, but I enjoyed the sample and felt confident enough to try 'real' walking with a back pack. Eventually I got the opportunity to try an easy weekend with Rod Mattingley to Mt Murray and The Twins. Again I was exhausted, but I was 'hooked'.

It is interesting to note that all through the 'eighties, when the Club had well over 300 members, only about 15 to 20 were regular weekend walkers. As a result I got to know these people quite well, and I met some very dear friends. Most of the rest of the Club members were strangers, even though I was bushwalking on average three weekends in four during that period.

Leaders I remember especially include Doug Pocock, who took us on a fabulous (but very wet) trip to Tasmania; Jopie Bodegraven who always seems to make his trips so enjoyable and researches them so thoroughly; Keith White, who always leads well-balanced trips and considers the abilities of the individuals in the group; Sandra Mutimer, who is so meticulous; Rod Mattingley, who is so knowledgeable, experienced and friendly. There are lots of others.

I did my stint on the Committee as Editor of Walk magazine for the issues of 1986 and 1987.


I emigrated from England to Australia in 1969, liked it and decided to stay. I joined the Victorian Climbing Club. I'd rock-climbed before, mainly in Snowdonia. However on my first trip to Mt Rosea in the Grampians I was totally spellbound by the wonderful wildflowers and incredible scenery - nothing like this at home. I used to get a lift to these places from a fellow VCC newcomer who lived along the road; he was also a Melbourne Bushie. Well, that arrangement developed a bit and in February 1972 we married. A large number of our wedding guests were Bushies as neither of us had family here. I got to know them socially but never went on a walk with them. We walked on our own from the time of our honeymoon to Lake Pedder, to the South Island of New Zealand - and we skied cross-country prodigiously. Alas, the relationship fell apart in 1982. I decided to join the Melbourne Bushies - I might still know a few of its members. And there was Rod Mattingley, in fine form, and one or two others I knew - I felt at home at once.

In 1985 I was on the general Committee, in 1986 Vice-President and from 1987 to 1989 the second lady President. It was a great honour for me. As 1990 loomed, the year of our 50th anniversary, I decided to take on the overall organisation of the celebratory events and give away being President. And now that this book, the final celebration, is finished, perhaps I might get back into some serious walking.