By John Trevillian
In search of ideas for community activities for local residents Mornington Community House members suggested a bushwalking group. Roger Phillips who was at that time the Shire Recreation Officer. Roger phoned people who expressed interest and invited them to an evening to discuss the proposal to start a walking club. Fifteen people attended the meeting in early 1979. The meeting was held at the Community House which was then located in Wellington Street behind the Mornington shopping strip. This turned into the inaugural meeting of the Peninsula Bushwalking Club.
The inaugural meeting was attended by:
Roger Phillips John Trevillian
June Tickell Barry Hancorne
Helen Dacy Lance Grey
Doreen Grey Joan Penberthy
Karl Schneider George McLennan
Gabrielle Burchell Les Annear
Peter Carroll Diane Gauhl
The meeting elected Roger Phillips as President, Karl Schneider as Secretary and John Trevillian as Walks Coordinator. Only Karl and John had any walking experience. The first walk was to be led by Karl in the Cathedral Ranges in Easter, 1979, and the second by John in the Grampians shortly after in June. Our earliest walk program record shows that other walks that year included walks to Powelltown, Lerdederg Gorge, Greens Bush, Strath Creek, a bike hike to French Island, and a trip to Mt Feathertop.
Some promotion was undertaken and a second meeting held at Mornington Primary School (Vale Street) attracted, to our surprise, about 30-40 people. The keen interest spread in the community and each meeting attracted more and more members.
Towards the middle of 1979 a new member, Ray Johnson and John Trevillian discussed having a newsletter. John's suggestion for a name was ‘Boots ‘n All, a name that persists today. Edition 1 appeared in July 1979, the newsletter caught on and, with numerous contributions and the artwork of Michael Leeworthy it formed a focus of interest and communication in the club.
Club meetings soon required a larger venue and we moved to Mount Martha House. Guest speakers or activities were organised through the ingenuity of members, a booking system for walks was established and some basic policies agreed upon. Supper arrangements at meetings were institutionalised. A ‘duty member’ was given the role of ‘meeting and greeting’ new members to ensure that they were made welcome and had matters explained to them on their first visit at club nights.
Great credit should be given to those early members for their foresight in ensuring that all people and eventualities were catered for. Walking was the prime focus. Overnight and day walks were to be kept in balance with an occasional car/base camp. A grading system was designed. Cost sharing was a much discussed issue.
Map and compass reading days were held and the odd leadership weekend undertaken. These led to more members taking walk leadership roles and understudying others, with great success.
We travelled all over the state, to the Snowy Mountains, to Tasmania and, on two occasions, to Nepal. If there was dirt to walk on, we would be there!