Perth Bushwalkers Club treks into 50th year

Mike Barnes and Alan Wells (far left) with other members of the Perth Bush Walkers Club, setting off on a bush walk. Picture: David Baylis d482269
Mike Barnes and Alan Wells (far left) with other members of the Perth Bush Walkers Club, setting off on a bush walk. Picture: David Baylis d482269

IT’S been nearly 50 years since a hardy band of bushies came together to establish what is now WA’s largest bushwalking group.

Perth Bushwalkers Club president Joe Malpas said to mark the milestone a raft of celebrations were planned.

“One of our more ambitious undertakings is to walk the Bibbulmun Track, end to end, in short instalments over 18 months starting this month,” she said.

“The Bibbulmun Track, besides being a wonderful track showcasing some of WA’s beautiful outdoors, has a special place in the club’s heart because it was our founding member, Geoff Schaeffer, who initiated the development of the track some 46 years ago.

“Geoff was a veteran of the 650km walk through the Victorian Alps, and he was dismayed that WA had no comparable track.

“In July 1972 he walked into the office of the then Minister for Forests, H.D. Evans, with an idea designed to prompt urban people to go bush.

“The Minister listened, liked what he heard, and sent Geoff and his idea to the Forests Department with a green light to go ahead with his proposed Perth to Albany walk track.”

Mr Malpas said the club had grown to 400-odd members since forming in 1969.

“It was not Perth’s first hiking club, but it was the first club committed to backpacking walks in addition to day walks,” she said.

“Over recent years our membership numbers have fluctuated typically between 300 to 400 members, making us WA’s largest bushwalking club.

“We have well over 100 activities each year including half-day walks, day walks, overnight backpacking and adventurous multi-day expeditions lasting up to ten days or even longer.

“Our local summer activities also include easier river and beach walks, cycling and canoeing activities.”

For more information go to perthbushwalkers.asn.au.

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