I have just come back from a memorable day with 3 former bush-walking mates, one of whom organized the day's activities and drove us to the Melbourne Bush-Walking Club hut at Mt Donna Buang.
For quite a few years Dennis and I have met once a year to enjoy a cup of tea and to celebrate our birthdays, mine being on 19 April and Dennis's being on 23 April. This year I rang Dennis and suggested that we break with tradition and go out for lunch to celebrate our 80th birthdays. Dennis had a better suggestion: a trip to the club hut at Donna Buang with the company of Lance and Vern. Dennis offered to drive us to the hut via Warburton. The four of us had enjoyed many overnight walks and camping during the time I was a member of the Melbourne Walking Club from 1989 to 1994. Prior to being a club member I had walked solo for 8 years.
My last walk with Vern, Lance and Dennis was in 1994. After a strenuous walk in the Mitchell River National Park, my wonky knee, after a 14 hour day, pleaded with me to swallow my pride and retire from what had been a series of wonderful walking experiences.
Today was in essence a trip down memory lane for we drove through suburbs which I haven't seen since my bush-walking days. It was on such travels that we used to travel to Lilydale and to then branch-off for travelling east to such places as Warburton, Cathedral Ranges and Woods Point, or north and north-east to the alpine country. Now, when travelling in those directions, Patricia and I make use of the East Link freeway, mainly to travel to Healesville, where, from time to time, we enjoy a short 4 night stay in a rented cottage.
After a short stop at the Warburton bakery for refreshments, we drove 10 km to a car park near the track which leads to the hut. As the car wound its way uphill I thought of the time I rode my bike from Warburton to the hut for an overnight stay: a demanding ride up hill and an easy descent back to Warburton. Dennis had done the same trip with the difference that he started his return trip at Lilydale. I dips my lid to Dennis for his magnificent effort of riding an additional 70 km (35 km each way).
Prior to leaving the car park to go to the hut, Vern and Dennis had an intense discussion about different ways of going to the hut. Dennis pointed out that Vern's map was out-of-date, and that the direction of the original road had been modified. Be that as it may, I was interested to find that the way to the hut was easier than that taken by me in the past.
Many years ago the authority responsible for the catchment area offered the hut to the club for a small annual fee and on the proviso that the club would maintain the hut. Upon arrival at the hut a fire was lit for boiling the billy and we relaxed with more talking and having lunch.
Throughout the day we reminisced about the club, its members and the many funny and "dramatic" aspects of our walks. In particular, I was interested to learn about other club members with whom I had walked. Sadly I learned of those who had passed away and those in poor health. Our group of four, whose ages range from 80 to 89, also have varying tales of woe regarding their health. We are now at that stage in life where we have no option but to accept and adapt to the fact that our bodies are far from that level of health and energy that sustained us during our bush-walking days.
Thanks to Dennis, a good day was had by all.