Bushwalking Victoria was originally established as the Federation of Victorian Bushwalking Clubs at a meeting on 15 May 1934. At that meeting, the first of the six aims of the new organisation was to 'Unite all Victorian walking clubs for the protection and advancement of mutual interests to promote the pastime of tour walking [as bushwalking was known at the time] and encourage good fellowship among affiliated bodies'.
To foster good fellowship among the eight inaugural member clubs, the first Federation Walk was organised by the Melbourne Amateur Walking and Touring Club and held on 6 October 1935. The tradition of a member club organising a walk event was thereby created. Unfortunately we don't know the location of the first walk.
2015 will therefore mark the 80th anniversary of the first Federation Walk. No Federation Walks were held during the war years 1941 to 1946. A couple of events were cancelled: the 1952 event due to a train strike (that wouldn't happen today - cancellation due to a train strike, I mean!) and the 2009 event due to the Black Saturday bushfires that devastated the intended walk area.
Over the years the numbers attending each event have waxed and waned somewhat. A number of clubs have organised and run the event more than once. While I wasn't there in the early, or even not so early, years (I attended my first Federation Walk in 1987), I can confidently say that over all those years the good fellowship and enjoyment that flows from walking with fellow walkers from member clubs has been a constant. And after last year's event at Rawson, hosted by four Gippsland clubs, we now have data to back this up (see below).
Federation Walks Weekend 2014 Feedback
One of the innovations introduced by the clubs organising the 2014 Federation Walks was online registrations by individual walkers. Previously, walker registration was done through the clubs. As registration included email address information, Bushwalking Victoria and the organising clubs were able to conduct an online survey of attendees following the event to gather feedback to help ensure the continued success of Federation Walks.
The response to the survey was high. Of the 295 people who registered, 181 (60%) entered the survey and 175 completed it. As anyone that has conducted surveys will attest, these are excellent numbers.
- 93% of respondents prefer a weekend event to a day event.
(This perhaps is no surprise given it was a weekend event.)
- 85% of respondents prefer a yearly event, 1.6% prefer an event twice a year and 12% prefer every two years.
- 70% of respondents rated the cost of the weekend as Very Good value and 29% rated it at Good Value.
- 83% of respondents gave the reason they attended as 'to meet and walk with walkers from other clubs' and 63% also said they attended to socialise with other walkers.
- 85.5% of the respondents rated the weekend as Very Enjoyable and 12.7% rated it as Enjoyable.
Another stand-out from the survey was that almost every person who responded took the time and trouble to comment on aspects of the weekend.
So we now have data to back up our claims about how enjoyable Federation Walks are, and lots of wonderful and helpful comments and suggestions. If you attended the 2014 event, check out the report online. If you have never been to one you will see you are missing out on an exciting and thoroughly enjoyable bushwalking experience.
2015 Federation Walk
The 2015 Federation Walks was hosted and organised by Bayside Bushwalking Club and the Great Dividing Trail Association. Walks were in the Daylesford and Hepburn Springs areas on the weekend of 24 and 25 October.
2016 Federation Walk - Hosted by Wimmera Bushwalking Club, Horsham
Attended by 290 total participants, it attracted as many walkers as previous Fed events, despite its “remoteness” and travel time from major population centres. Members from 31 clubs participated.45 leaders and co-leaders, from 8 clubs from all over Victoria, gave their time and expertise on both the event weekend, as well as prior scoping of the walks designated to them by the Wimmera club Organizers. One participant came from Bairnsdale, and some from Benalla/Wangaratta area.
A training day for the walk leaders was held in Ballarat one month before the Federation Event, led by our training co-ordinator, Judy Hunter.
The weather leading up to the event was extremely challenging; the date that was chosen in early October was to avoid the possibility of extreme heat; instead we got record rainfall leading up to the event, causing floods, with closed roads and walk access tracks. Over 30% of the scheduled 20 walks had to be cancelled or modified. Added to this, was wind on the Sunday of gusts up to 100km/h!
The Professionalism, dedication, and deep local knowledge of the organizing duo, Chris Dunmill and Steve Knoll was impressive. They were able to adapt to every setback, which would have flummoxed any of the rest of us!
The walks list comprised 20 walks, well considered with range of difficulty and variety, appropriate to the Federation event walker; an Aboriginal Art tour, a range of raging waterfalls, caves, and areas further away including Black Range and Arapiles. With all the rain, the expected wildflowers were especially abundant.
The Wimmera club has only 20 Members, but every one of them proudly stepped up. It was a “whole of club” welcome that all of the participants experienced in their camaraderie. The local service clubs turned on the meal with good country fare.
A bus was used to transport walkers for 3 of the walks. And people appreciated the coffee van!
250 walkers sat down to dinner in the open, with the Glorious Northern Grampians as a back drop. Keynote Speaker was the Chief Ranger of the Grampians, on the construction of the iconic Grampians Peaks Trail; The President of BWV spoke on the issue of Australian Activity Standards; the local Councillor from the Horsham Rural City Council spoke on issues experienced in the bush to build and maintain infrastructure, that those of us from the city are not aware; and the night was ably em-ceed by President of Wimmera Bushwalking club who spoke with humour.
The 2016 Federation Walk was an outstanding success that will live in our memories for years, and will take us back to walk spectacular areas we had not known until WBC took us there.
Ovations are due to the principle organizers Chris and Susan Dunmill, Steve Knoll and his partner Dianne. All of the Wimmera Club members are due congratulations. Mandy, Michael, Kylie and Alan are the only ones the busy event allowed me to meet. Your club has indeed created a memorable event for hundreds of people, and must have made you all truly proud.
Great thanks are also due to the Leaders and Co-Leaders who made available their skill and time from bushwalking clubs from all over Victoria, Sunraysia to Mildura, to mention a few.
Future Federation Walks