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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)

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'.