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Our walk secretary’s toughest trip ever

 Our group of 24 adventurers with two instructors. I am standing at the far left.


Long before I joined YHA Bushwalking, I attended an Outward Bound Course in the A.C.T. consisting of four days at the Outward Bound School in Tharwa, south of Canberra, followed by a three-week expedition through the nearby ranges. I was one of 24 guys from around Australia, none of whom I had met before. For the expedition, we were divided into two groups of 12, each with an instructor.  We were required to keep a journal of our experiences, so here are the edited highlights (and low-lights) of my trip:


Days 1-4: We were transported from Canberra to the Outward Bound School (in something resembling a cattle truck) where our days were filled with preliminary training and preparation for our expedition and various other activities such as running, swimming in the Murrumbidgee River and ropes confidence courses (it felt a bit like being in the army).


Days 5-9: Our long “expedition” began with a hike from the school to Perkins Flat on the Goodradigbee River, camping overnight in the bush under a large bivvy (a plastic sheet tied to trees or the ground, instead of a tent). Along the way, we gained further training in navigation, first aid, communications and climbing the rope ladders we would use caving in a few days.


Day 10: Canoeing and Cascading down the Goodradigbee: While our gear was transported to our next campsite, we travelled there via the river, canoeing in the morning and cascading in the afternoon. I enjoyed canoeing but cascading was my worst experience of this course.  “Cascading” involved paddling down the river on a lilo using our arms and hands as paddles. We were fully clothed, chest down, which meant we were partially submerged much of the time. The theory was that by wearing predominantly woolen clothing, wool when wet still keeps you warm, however in practice, I wore an old footy jumper and it didn’t do the trick. I’ve never felt so cold in all my life. We were on the river for several hours and the longer I paddled the weaker my muscles felt until I was coming off my lilo after every rapid.  Finally, after I came off yet again, I really struggled to fight my way back to the surface – for a few seconds I thought I wasn’t going to make it, but somehow I managed to get myself over to a large rock.  By now, I was so cold that I was breathing heavily as though I had just completed a hard run. In no uncertain terms, I informed our instructor that there was absolutely no way I was getting back on that lilo, so the whole group had to deflate our lilos and walk the remaining distance to our campsite interestingly, I heard no complaints from the others about this.   Tonight, one guy became sick and was driven back to Tharwa to recover.


 View from Mt Coree, near my “Solo” campsite


Day 11: Another guy woke up sick (should anyone be surprised?), so we lost a lot of time waiting for him to be collected by the Outward Bound staff, before hiking as far as we could to our next campsite.


Day 12: Cascading down the Goodradigbee with packs: We spent the whole day cascading downstream to our next campsite, 15-20 kms away. This time, I wasn’t as cold because we paddled chest-down on our waterproofed packs placed on top of the lilo, so we were mostly out of the water. It also helped that I wore a warmer woolen jumper hand-knitted by my Mum (unfortunately it was ruined after a full day wet with river water, much to her distress when I returned home). Although it was better than my previous cascading experience, my journal states that I was nevertheless damn glad to get off my lilo at the end of the day, however I was better off than another guy whose pack sank to the bottom of the river and couldn’t be found.


Days 13-14: Caving at Wee Jasper. Our instructors had some interesting challenges in store for us through three caves. The largest began with a 60-80 foot descent down a caving ladder, followed by an extensive tour including various obstacles to climb over and narrow holes to squeeze through. However, the most daunting was a smaller cramped cave, where our instructor took us some distance inside then left with our torches, requiring us to crawl much of the way back in the dark, feeling the cave walls, looking for light and calling out to each other until we eventually found the way out.


 My home during three days on “Solo”


Day 15: A long hike from Wee Jasper to Mt Coree.


Day 16: Rock-climbing and Abseiling at Mt Coree.


Days 17-19: Our “Solo” experience, consisting of three days and nights on our own in the bush around Mt Coree with its commanding views towards Canberra. We had only our camping gear, food rations, notepad and pen.  We had to make do without a watch, any reading material or alcohol (in fact, that was banned for the entire course). Worse than that, we had to survive without our addictive mobile devices (actually there was no such thing in those days but why let the truth get in the way of a good story).  We weren’t permitted to roam any further than 50 metres from our campsite, and we didn’t speak to anyone except for saying ‘yep’ to our instructor on his daily walk by to check we were OK. Yes, this was self-isolation and social distancing on steroids (we were way ahead of our time).


Days 20-24: Our “Final Expedition”, a five-day pack-carry (to use YHA Bushwalking-speak) from Mt Coree to Angle Crossing on the Murrumbidgee River. We were now in groups of six without our instructor so we had to use all our training and team work to navigate our way using map and compass (there were no luxuries like mobile devices with GPS!). From my journal, it looks like this was mostly cross-country, other than using a few roads to make up time. My journal also says I was glad when this final expedition was over!





Day 25: A 12 km run from Angle Crossing back to the Outward Bound School. A run of this distance would normally have been easy for me, but I struggled – I must have been exhausted by this stage. Tonight we enjoyed our final dinner, which we prepared ourselves of course (after all, this was ‘outward bound’, not a tour group!).


Day 26: All 24 of us were trucked back to civilization in Canberra (yay!). We indulged in a pub lunch, alcohol and ice-cream before flying home.


According to my journal, I enjoyed most of the course, except for certain activities such as the cascading and the more grueling parts of the hiking when my pack felt so heavy that I wondered what on earth possessed me to decide to do this course (could this explain why I don’t attempt pack-carries these days?).

A few weeks after coming home, I was diagnosed with Glandular Fever and was off work for a month.  My GP concluded that I must have contracted it on the Outward Bound Course. Apparently we weren’t vigilant enough with the good hygiene practices that we all follow today!


Our quarters at the Outward Bound School


Covid-19 update 11 April, 2020

Club nights

Physical club nights have  been cancelled until further notice. However we recognise it’s important to maintain connections during these strange and unusual times.  So we will be starting virtual club nights using zoom technology, commencing from 5 May, 2020. Further details will be on the current walks program.


Membership fees

Given the current circumstances, all members as at, or joining after, 1 March, 2020,  will receive an additional free 6 months membership.  Your membership expiry date will be extended under your membership profile.


Please note we no longer use physical membership cards.


Covid-19 updates

Updates on the impact of covid-19 on our activities will be posted on the dedicated web page under the Activities tab.


Virtual walking

Whilst we currently are not able to physically walk together, we encourage you to share your favourite walking stories and photos as a way to brighten the day for those of us who are isolated and looking for ways to connect with others.


We are looking for your:

– favourite walk in Australia

– favourite walk in Victoria

– favourite walk Internationally

– most embarrassing moment on a walk,

– most inspiring moment on a walk, etc

Please send these to president@yhabush.org.au.


If you have any other suggestions for managing through Covid-19 please let me know.


On behalf of the Committee, i wish you a happy and safe Easter.

Kris Peach


First aid training course held

Our recent first aid training day was a great success. Feedback from the leaders, members and YHA ski club members was overwhelmingly positive –

It was definitely worthwhile and given that we as leaders have a duty of care, an excellent opportunity to be current with this knowledge and certification.

The location was fine, program and materials well structured and Peter, our presenter very professional. He kept us entertained with some very interesting anecdotes from his many years of work!

Yes, it is definitely highly recommended.


Thank you to First Aid Management for running an excellent tailored course for us!

Once we are through Covid-19 we will look to run another course at the end of the year.

COVID-19 Update 22 March 2020 – Suspension of walks program

As a result of the Victorian and a Federal government announcements today, our current walk program has been suspended until further notice.The Victorian Government has cancelled all non-essential activities including sporting events. All non-essential travel is to be avoided.  Bushwalking does not qualify as essential travel.


The safety and welfare of our leaders, members, walkers and the community is paramount.  We hope you can stay safe and healthy during this difficult time.

We will continue to monitor the situation closely and will resume walking as soon as it is safe to do so.

Please refer to the Victorian and Federal websites for further advice and support services.



Walking spots that are closed

    • Accommodation and camping at Tidal River within Wilsons Promontory National Park will be closed from Sunday 22 March.
    • 1000 steps/Kokoda Memorial Walk and Lyrebird Track in the Dandenong Ranges National Park have been closed until further notice.
    • The Dandenong Ranges Botanic Garden and William Ricketts Sanctuary have been closed until further notice.
    • The penguin viewing platform at St Kilda Pier has been closed until further notice – fencing is now in place along the breakwater preventing access to the penguin viewing platform. The pier remains open.
    • Mackenzie Falls in the Grampians National Park will be closed for the duration of term two school holiday period (28 March – 13 April 2020).
    • For more Parks Victoria information click here.



Staying connected

Whilst we may not be able to walk together for the moment we can still stay connected and supportive.  So, if you have any great walking stories, reflections or photos you want to share, please send them to me at President, and I will share them via this site.


Kris Peach


Covid-19 Update 19 March, 2020

To maintain the health of all walkers and leaders during the Covid-19 pandemic we are instigating the following protocols with immediate effect.


Should you participate?

Leaders and car pooling drivers will be asking all walkers the following questions at the start of the walk/before getting in the car:

    1. Have you travelled overseas in the past 14 days, or have been in close contact with anyone who has travelled overseas?
    2. Are you or have you been in contact with a person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19?
    3. Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms:
        • fever
        • flu-like symptoms such as coughing, sore throat and fatigue
        • shortness of breath?
    4. Are you in a high risk category, including being elderly or have a pre-existing medical condition?


If so, unfortunately you will not be able to participate in the walk and you should refer to the Victorian and Federal websites for advice as to whether you should seek medical attention immediately and/or self isolate until given the all clear.  See also community sports guidelines.


If you feel sick in any way,  please cancel. If you become unwell during the walk please notify your Leader immediately.

Leaders will also ask the group to confirm the night before, including themselves, that nobody meets any of the criteria that would prevent them from walking.


Maximum of 10 walkers, including Sunday walks

There will be a maximum of 10 people, including the leader on all walks – including Sunday walks.  At the leader’s discretion there may be less. The smaller size will help with social distancing and management of risk.


Sunday walks now booked – Sunday 22 March cancelled

For the time being, Sunday walks will now become booked walks, with a maximum of 10.
As we are not able to convert the Sunday walk on 22nd March, to a booked walk, it has been cancelled.


Accommodated and hut walks, public transport walks

Until further notice, accommodated walks, hut walks and public transport walks after Monday 23 March are suspended.  Walks involving use of own tents will proceed subject to leaders agreeing to continue and the other protocols outlined here.


Good hygiene

During the walk please practice good hygiene to minimise the risk of infection. Maintain a distance of 1.5 meters between yourself and your fellow walkers. Do not share food or water or shake hands. Use tissues and do not dispose of these in the bush. Cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow. Wash hands or use sanitiser after contact with petrol pumps etc.


Car pooling and public transport

We encourage you to think carefully before using public transport to get to the walk meeting points.


Carpooling will be subject to the leader’s discretion. To comply with social distancing recommendations there should be no more than 2 persons per car, unless walkers specifically organise/request to have more in the car.  Following the government’s advice regarding taxis and ubers, it’s recommended the passenger is in the back seat. Accordingly,  there is a higher likelihood that if you need transport to the start of the walk that we may not be able to provide it. If carpooling occurs all occupants should confirm the night before that they do not meet any of the criteria above that would prevent participation.


If you have your own transport and wish to go direct to the meeting point, please contact your Leader via the “enquiry” button on the website.


Before and After walk activities

Please consider carefully all before and after walk activities, such as coffee, cake, dinner etc and ensure you can comply with the social distancing and good hygiene recommendations.


Club nights

The April Club night has been cancelled.


Cancellation of walks at short notice

Walks maybe cancelled if Leaders no longer feel comfortable leading or the Committee considers the risks too high.  The number of participants will also be closely monitored.

We are continually monitoring the situation, and expert advice is changing rapidly, so please monitor the website and your emails the evening before, and morning of, your walk.  We may need to cancel events at short notice.


Safe and happy walking!

Kris Peach


Jonas Lea Award, Leader awards, AGM

Jonas Lea Memorial Award 2019

Congratulations to David Sale, the very deserving winner of our 2019 Jonas Lea memorial award.  Jonas Lea’s mother, Judy Koch, was present to make the presentation and to meet our inaugural winner, Andrew Francis, ensuring it was a special night for all. Read the full citations for David and Andrew.

Leader awards

Congratulations to our 2019 leaders who led the most walks:

Sonya R – Sunday walks

Craig B – Saturday walks

Ken S – weekend and extended walks


Annual General Meeting update

We had a very successful AGM and clubnight, with more than 30 members attending a great slide show from Bruce M reminiscing about walking in the 60s to celebrate our first 80 years of walking and checking out the latest in gear and food with Andrew S and Bruce M. Highlights included new stoves, portable lights, water filters and coffee machines.


Many thanks to our outgoing treasurer, Jon, for four years of dedicated service.  Our financial position is very sound as set out in the Treasurer’s report.  The committee has agreed we should donate $5,000 to bushfire relief and the AGM members indicated we should split this between track maintenance and wildlife recovery.


The 2020 committee consists of our new Treasurer Joanne, new committee member representing walkers Jan, and continuing President Kris, walk secretary Doug, secretary Tanveer, Communications manager Sonya, and committee members Ken and Jen.


2019 was a very successful year for the Club, as set out in the President’s report. We’ve seen tremendous growth in our membership, from 70 trip card holders to 200 members, which is particularly pleasing. Many thanks to all our committee members, leaders, members and walkers who have made this possible.

Happy and safe walking!



Bushfire update

We have been monitoring Bushwalking Victoria’s recommendations about how to best assist with bushfire recovery.  They are encouraging walks near the affected towns, so we will start to look at this as part of future programs.


We have also decided to donate $5,000 to appropriate recovery funds.  We will be asking for members’ preferences regarding which funds at the AGM and Clubnight on 3 March, 2020, another good reason to come along to a very interesting night.  Andrew Stevenson and Bruce Meincke are giving an update on the latest and greatest bushwalking gear – with samples to try.


We will also be assisting with track recovery programs – the Bushwalking VICTORIA standing committee, Bushwalking Tracks and Conservation (BTAC) has been in contact with Parks Vuctorua and the Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning (DELWP) land managers and is awaiting their advice on where and when we can assist them. If you would like to help in the meantime, please have a look at options here.



New hazardous conditions policy

Given the unusual fire activity and weather conditions we are currently experiencing, we have revised our hazardous conditions policy.  This takes effect immediately.  Your safety is paramount, and the cancellation criteria have been set with this in mind.  However, ultimately you are the best judge of whether the conditions are appropriate for you to participate safely and enjoyably.  If you have any concerns please contact your leader or a committee member.

Please make sure you check the website the night before and morning of your walk to check it’s status, and if uncertain please contact your leader.

Cancellation criteria

Day walks

In the following circumstances a day walk will be cancelled if forecast or actual conditions are:

  • Fire Danger Rating (FDR) “severe”, “extreme” or “code red”
  • Air Quality Rating (AQR) “very poor” or “hazardous”
  • Wind Speed Rating (WSR) “gale force”, “storm force” or “hurricane force” (ie greater than 34 knots/63 km/hour)
  • Temperature above 35 degrees Celsius
  • Flood warnings in area of walk
  • Walk route or road access is closed
  • Park Rangers, other informed locals or experienced bushwalkers advise not safe to walk
  • Planned burns in or near walk route, or road access
  • Excessive rain
  • Blizzards
  • Heavy snowfalls
  • Known incidents that make the walk or the drive there unsafe (Eg. dust storm, falling trees).
Multi-day walks

Where forecasts meet cancellation criteria on at least one day during the walk, the Leader considers whether walk can be suspended safely for those days, or whether the whole walk needs to be cancelled.

Conditions requiring Leader to exercise judgement

In the following circumstances the Leader has primary responsibility to determine whether walks proceed:

  • FDR “very high”
  • AQR “poor”
  • Temperature between 30-35 degrees Celsius.

Welcome to 2020

Bush fires

I hope everyone enjoyed their break and are ready for a new decade of walking.  Unfortunately we are off to a difficult start with the bush fires.  It is so very sad to see the devastation for both humans, wildlife and our habitat.  We can’t thank our firefighters and other emergency responders enough.


Cancellation decision, timing and communication

We do not want to impose any extra burden on our emergency responders so we need to be respectful of  warnings and guidance.  The cancellation of a walk may need to occur at short notice, preferably no later than the night before, but sometimes it may even be necessary on the morning of walk.


Accordingly for the next couple of months it’s important you keep checking our website  and your email the night before and the morning of any walk to make sure you are aware of cancelled events – cancellations of any walks will be noted on the website and meetup.  We will do what we can to arrange alternatives, however safety must come first.


New air quality criteria for cancellation

As a result of the current bush fire situation, air quality conditions now also need to be considered when determining whether a walk will be cancelled, in addition to our existing severe weather criteria such as temperature above 38 degrees and fire rating of ‘severe’ or higher.


When the EPA Air Quality index is forecast to be, or is ‘very poor’ or ‘hazardous’ in the area of the walk, it will be cancelled.  See our safety policy.… Read More

Seasons greetings

On behalf of YHA Bushwalking Victoria, we hope you have enjoyed this years walk program, and are looking forward to the start of a new decade of walking.

Many thanks to our Leaders for their great efforts during the year and all those who helped the committee.  Particular thanks to Sharnee G and Celine S, our Walk Secretary, and other members of the Committee for doing a great job organising the end of year function and our 80th birthday celebrations.
We hope you have a happy and safe holiday break, and look forward to walking with you again next year.