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Otago Tramping and Mountaineering Club - History

The 'Fifties

 

The great burst of post-war enthusiasm was now receding and the effect of this was not so much a slackening of interest in the Club, but dispersal of members' energies into more diverse fields. The Otago Ski Club was rapidly expanding and its new building programme at Coronet Peak claimed the attention of some of our members. Private trips to more out-of-the-way places were popular now that some individuals owned their own transport, even if it was only, the humble motor cycle. Matrimony took its toll as the years and other responsibilities combined to cause a slowing of the vigorous tempo the Club had become accustomed to since 1945.

For the next few years, the Club was to pursue a more leisurely pace, with many fine cross-country trips undertaken in remote places. Great interest was taken in the Olivine country, with Bruce Campbell spending considerable time there. The Darrans, too, attracted increasing attention.

Some of the best-known personalities who made major contributions to the post-war revival have already been mentioned. There were many others, too, who collectively made the Club the great success it was during this period. George Arras, a life member and active from the '20's until his death in the '60's was a climber and skier of note, a guide at the Hermitage and the Club's first Chief Guide. Wilf Broughton, Jack Hoskins and Bruce Campbell were each in their turn President and no club could have been better served in this capacity. And those who just tramped, skied, climbed, built huts, cut tracks, etc. - well, there were many. Cliff Anderson, Gavin and Daphrie Clark, John Scott, Russell Gregory, Arnold Hubbard, Ross Adamson, Ross Lake, the O'Kane brothers, Keith Lambie, Stuart Needs, June and Barbara Napier-to mention only some of those best recalled.

During the mid-fifties the Club met in the TOC H rooms in upper Dowling Street. These rooms were heated by a round pot-bellied stove in the middle of the floor- a stove which often gave out more smoke than heat. Furnishings were very old easy chairs and sofas and there was an all-pervading smell of dust and old age. The practice of detailing two members each week for clubroom duty continued, with the anonymous organiser often using considerable skill and acumen in pairing likely lads and lasses, who, it was felt, should get to know one another better. It is interesting to record that the 72 male and 70 female members of 1954, had changed to 90 and 64 by the following year. In 1955, the last Barn Dance at the Leith Valley School was held, later years shifting to the Pukehiki Hall.

In 1954, an appeal went out for gifts of equipment to set up a hire pool, and to the two packs, two large billies and 80 feet of manilla rope that was donated, the Club added two four-man tents which it had purchased. Later on, ice axes were added and new members were then able to enjoy weekend trips without the worry of a large financial outlay on equipment.

New areas were being chosen for long weekend trips. Queen's Birthday, 1954, saw 26 members in the Orari Gorge, with some of the party climbing Mt Peel. At Labour Weekend, 34 went to the Shotover and then followed the Moonlight to Lake Luna, finishing at Mt Creighton station on Lake Wakatipu. There was no official. Christmas trip that year, although private parties went to the Rees - Dart, Routeburn - Hollyford, Hollyford - Pyke - Olivine - Rockburn, Martins Bay - Big Bay and the Mt Cook area.

In 1955, 30 members enjoyed a round trip at Easter from the South Temple to the Huxley, and Timaru Creek was visited at Queen's Birthday weekend. This was only a short time before Lake Hawea was raised 70 feet and the very pleasant camp-site that was used is now under many feet of water. Snow-caving was first attempted in the Kakanuis during September, and the Eyre Mountains were the venue for Labour Day. During this period Saturday trips lost much of their former support and were consequently no longer arranged.

Club politics were lively around this time. At the 1954 Annual General Meeting, there were two nominations for the Presidency (something almost unheard of), but as it turned out there was no vote. Dick Hamel withdrew from the "contest" and Ian Pollard was elected. Ian's tenure was to be short-lived - a transfer away from Dunedin forced him to resign and his place was taken by Albie Green. Albie was re-elected unopposed at the 1955 A.G.M., but resigned for personal reasons early in 1956, with Bruce Campbell filling the gap until the next Annual Meeting.

April, 1956, saw the new diamond-shaped Club badge go on sale to members. Practical, but with little appeal.

Scott Gilkison became President at the Annual General Meeting and a vigorous policy was begun to rid Flagstaff of some of its gorse. Forty-eight people turned up to help and A. H. Reed presented his booklet---Walks Around Dunedin---to those who took part. Membership at this time was 155 and many large-scale working parties were held on track clearing and hut repairs. Long weekends were spent at Lake Ohau, the North Temple and the Ahuriri Valley.

By the end of Scott Gilkison's term of office, the roll had climbed to 164, the highest for that time. Jim Malcolm followed Scott as President and it is worth mentioning that Jim always practised what he preached. You could count on seeing him on nearly every Sunday trip, often with a small slasher at the ready.

Easter, 1957, saw over 30 members spend a very wet time up the Matukituki Valley and although very little was achieved, a few stalwarts managed successful ascents of Liverpool and Bevan.

Working parties were still to the fore, in fact so much so that a number of active members of the time all pleaded "wanderlust" and took off overseas.

By 1958, Club activity was steadily increasing, with most trips being reasonably supported. Weather during 1958 left a lot to be desired and although it considerably reduced some activities, it was said by one active member that if nothing else, it played a firm part in character building. To wit, there is nothing better than sitting out a storm for three or four days in a small tent to learn to live with your fellow men. There may be a lot of truth in this, but it is suspected that the member quoted was also in the habit of ensuring that his 'fellow-men' were issued with a daily ration of " Lifebuoy ".

Private trips were still a part of Club life at this stage, with various parties climbing or tramping in the Seaward Kaikouras, Hunter Hills, Mt Grandview, Homer, Hopkins, Mt Murchison, Hunter Valley, Dart, Whitbourn, Arawata and Matukituki Valleys.

The official Christmas trip for 1958/59 took nine members over the Routeburn-Rockburn-Hidden Falls-Olivine-Pyke-Hollyford-Greenstone circuit, with more than the usual share of fine weather. Easter, 1959, was centred on the Ahuriri Valley. With 29 members in the valley, popular campsites were sometimes at a premium, but the lack of serious river-crossing problems meant all grades of experience were adequately catered for; from an ascent of Mt Peterson to a gentle ramble to the head of the valley.

During 1958, the usual snow-caving trip to the Kakanuis gave way to igloo building. Good snow, plus slightly-below-freezing temperatures, allowed three to be built, with that erected by the Keen/ Cunninghame party assuming true classical lines. One of the others was a massive structure about 14 feet across. Shortage of time and an uncertainty of procedure made it necessary to roof it with a tent, which caused it to be likened to an astronomical observatory or alternatively a convertible automobile.

A 35th Anniversary Reunion was held between the 12th and 14th of September, 1958, and proved to be both a great success and a triumph for the Organising Committee. An informal evening at the clubrooms on Friday night drew a large crowd who saw slides of past and current club activities, looked through the old albums, and chatted over supper.

The dinner on Saturday night at The Vedic was attended by approximately 120 members and friends. Toasts honoured were "The Queen" (Horace Tilly), "The Club" (Bruce Moore), "The Founders" (Bill McFarland/Charles Hayward) and "Present Members" (Jim Freeman/Bruce Campbell). Ralph Markby was in the Chair. After some piano items by Pam Barton, Gavin Clark showed tramping films, and dancing and supper completed the evening.

At Ben Rudd's on the Sunday, 80 members and their families enjoyed a picnic outing in spite of dull weather. The hope was expressed that the large numbers of cars seen at the firebreak was not a sign of decadence, but rather of the prosperity of the older members.

Bruce Moore was President during this period, and those who were fortunate in attending the 50th Anniversary Celebrations and were subjected to his "harangue" will perhaps understand why he was so instrumental in getting everyone back into the hills - no one wanted to be put in the position where they might have to listen to one of his lengthy 'speeches'. In a serious vein, though, Bruce has been a mainstay in the Club since 1953, and his achievements were later recognised by life membership being conferred on him.

 

 

  The Early Years (1923 - 30) - The Thirties - The War Years and the Post War Renaissance - The Fifties - The Fortieth Anniversary Celebrations - The Sixties - The Early Seventies - 1973/83 - 1983/93 - 1993/2003

This site copyright 1999/2010 Antony Pettinger. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of the OTMC Committee or other OTMC Members.