This history of the Melbourne Bushwalkers, told by its members, is a fittingly handsome celebration of the Club's fiftieth anniversary. It begins in the forties at a time when bushwalking took off in Australia. The tale evolves through the fifties, when new walking areas that are now suburbia were being explored and gear was so much simpler, through the sixties and the opening up of walking areas further afield, to the eventful seventies and eighties.
The reader is invited to share the times and experiences of those walkers - the delights, the adventures, the characters, the factions and fashions, the times of hardship and of consolidation and growth.
The account includes:
the Club's involvement in conservation and environmental issues gear and its development over the decades
Club transport and the van
the development of publications such as Walk, the News and walk programmes
Wilkinson Lodge (Wilky) and its history
cross-country skiing and its gradual incorporation into Club activities
tales of search and rescue
social and other Club activities such as liloing, and
the Broadford-Yea marathon run.
All readers will find something of interest. Each chapter is written by a different Club member, which gives the book diversity of style. And the text has interspersed throughout photographs, maps and entertaining anecdotes. This book is a must for all members of the Melbourne Bushwalkers and those interested in the development of bushwalking in Victoria as seen through the Club's eyes.
Copies of the bound volume are available at the club rooms for $5 per copy.
Making any book must always be a team effort; making this one has been an exceptional team effort. It was apparent from the start that a history of our Club could only be produced by a number of its members working together. This is what happened. Without payment, giving freely of their time, a large number of Club members have researched the archives, delved into memories and interviewed the `oldies', to produce a history of one of the oldest Melbourne bushwalking clubs. Although all the writers and `backstage' helpers are amateurs we have been greatly assisted by two professionals: Barbara Weiss, our editor, who gave up vast amounts of her free time to do more of what she does for a living, and Pauline McClenahan, a professional designer who was persuaded to get involved with a bunch of Bushies who wanted to write their history.
Fascinating details of the authors are included elsewhere in this book; I thank them all for their marvellous efforts. Some of them also contributed in other ways during the production process Athol Schafer, Sylvia Wilson, Barry Short, Liz Telford and Tracy Guest. Other bushies who must be thanked include: Fred Halls, for reading the manuscript and giving us the benefit of his long experience; Rob Ayre, for helping us make sense of many different computer-produced documents; Bill Metzenthen, for a magnificent job collecting, collating and sifting photo-graphs; Gina Hopkins, for much deft working on the keyboard; Jan Llewelyn, for her expert editing help; Doug Pocock for research and Trish Elmore for sales and general support. Many other Bushies helped by supplying treasured photographs and memorabilia thank you.
I hope that you will agree with me that this book makes fascinating reading. It has been a thrilling experience for me to work with such a great bunch of people and to find that the spirit and enthusiasm of the Bushies is as strong now as it was in the past. Thank you, all you Bushies past and present, for the privilege of helping to put together an account of the past fifty years.
I doubt whether any bushwalking club has had such mixed beginnings as that of the Melbourne Bushwalkers; I also doubt whether any of the early Bushies thought during the tense years of World War II that the Melbourne Bushwalkers would ever reach the age of 50 years.
The Club has enriched the life of many young and old `wanderers' during five decades, has generated many marriages (including mine) and gave birth even to another walking club.
I trust that some of today's young Bushies will celebrate the centenary of the Melbourne Bushwalkers in 2040 in peace and prosperity while the old Bushies will look down at them with nostalgic envy.
Egon, the ancient Bushie (E.J. Donath)
When Sylvia Wilson first mentioned to me her idea of a 50-year history of the Club, my immediate reaction was to say, `Oh! I'll edit it'. I, like so many others involved in this publication, have gained enormously from the Melbourne Bushwalkers and what it offers, and felt that this is something I could give in return. What makes this project special is that it is a labour of love for all those involved. However, little did I realise at the time what I was about to embark on - a task that has given me both enormous challenge and satisfaction, entailing a lot of hard work and cooperation from many people (and especially I wish to thank Derrick Brown, who has given me tremendous support and propelled everyone along so cheerily when momentum sagged). I also have had some delightful surprises, such as the discovery that my mother had actually been on some of the early walks in the forties and knew Egon Donath, one of the Club's founding members.
Each chapter of this history is written by a different person - the contributors either chose a particular period or subject and gleaned their material from the archives - reports and publications of the time and from interviewing those who had been there, or they were closely involved themselves in the events. Each account is necessarily subjective
there will always be another view, another set of facts to record, or another tale of a particular event. I have therefore occasionally allowed some overlap in the telling of `what happened'. The writing style of the articles also varies markedly, of course. I have retained the individuality as much as possible while giving consistency in presentation.
Not all the material gathered for the history could be used - it was just not possible to include it all in a book this size. However, all articles in their original form are being kept in the Club's archives.