(This article updates those written
by Ron Keen covering 1923-73, and Richard Pettinger covering
Following the highly successful
60th Anniversary celebrations, the Club continued to flourish. Much
effort went into renovating the clubrooms in Stuart Street. After a
long time sharing premises, it was good to have a place that was
"ours", at least for the meantime.
A well supported Labour Weekend
trip went to Ohau. Plans to raft the Taieri on inner tubes escalated
and ended up with the Club booking out the commercial rafting
operation for a whole weekend - 42 people participated. The year
wound up with a memorable social at the Vollweiler farm near Lake
The Christmas period was marked by
a "traditional" Christmas camp, this time at the confluence of the
Hopkins and Huxley Rivers. Up to 30 people were present at different
times, with trips to the Richardson Glacier, Elcho valley and
Rabbiters Peak. Two parties also made expeditions to the Olivines.
Bushcraft 84 followed the highly
successful format introduced the previous year. The only hiccup was
when a party in the Maitland took a wrong turn in poor visibility
and ended up a day overdue.
The timing of Anzac Day on the
Wednesday after Easter meant that Easter was a six day weekend -
almost a contradiction in terms. A busload went to South Westland.
A vicious circle of problems
finding leaders for day trips plus poor attendances, accentuated by
an admitted lack of interest in day trips by a number of more active
members, led to proposals to reduce their frequency to fortnightly
or monthly. The committee took a more proactive approach and
appointed a Day Trip Convener to take over responsibility from the
Chief Guide. Before long this aspect of Club activity, which is
important to beginner trampers and less active members, was up and
running again. At the other end of the scale of Club activities,
plans were put in place for a graduated programme of alpine
In one of the Club's more bizarre
activities, 66 members and hangers on (this term is used advisedly)
managed to get themselves onto a waterbed, thus setting an alleged
world record and winning the waterbed, which was raffled.
The 1984 AGM saw the election of
Don Greer as President and Nancy Munro as a Life Member. Nancy was
reputed to have almost single handedly kept the Club running during
World War 2, and had maintained her membership and an interest in
the Club for the ensuing 40 years. Sadly the Club also lost a Life
Member with the death of Bruce Campbell after he took ill on a
Family Tramping Group trip on Flagstaff. Bruce's memory lives on
with the rhododendron dell he planted on the Ben Rudd property.
Since it was apparent that our
occupancy of the Stuart Street rooms would eventually run out as the
Polytech gradually moved from the area, the first of several
sub-committees was formed with a view to finding a more permanent
home for the Club. Over the next few years, the various members of
the committee looked at scores of buildings to buy or rent.
The Christmas trip followed the
lead of 1982 with the Club investigating a proposed National Park.
This time the destination was North West Nelson, and those who went
were suitably impressed.
In February '85 a radical change
in the production and format of the monthly Bulletin was made. The
ageing and increasingly unreliable Gestetner was dispensed with, and
the Bulletins appeared in A5 photocopied form. This enabled a lot
more creativity to be used in layout, and allowed the use of
graphics and illustrations.
Following an approach from a
number of people from Balclutha, an affiliated group was formed in
that area Unfortunately, despite the efforts of Don Greer, Michelle
Metherell and others, it was short lived.
The Queens Birthday trip saw the
most serious accident on a Club trip for some years. John Bevin fell
while bouldering on the Hump Range and suffered a badly broken leg.
A combination of favourable factors including good weather, an
accessible location, the presence of 11 able bodied trampers, the
medical knowledge of Graham Johnston and the very quick exit of Doug
Forrester, meant John was in hospital within about 10 hours.
In July the announcement was made
that a large block of land had been purchased in the central Silver
Peaks for the formation of a reserve. This was great news for the
Club which had fought hard to retain much of the area in a form
suitable for tramping.
Mike Floate became President for
The Bushcraft final weekend which
went to Fiordland, became an optional trip in order to keep the
basic cost down. However it was found that many people who didn't
intend to do this trip enjoyed the Course so much that they attended
anyway. The Club joined with the OUTC in their annual pre-Easter
river crossing instruction day.
A reflection of the Club's ongoing
environmental concerns was the erection of a toilet at a mustering
hut on the Old Woman Range. The hut is a favourite cross country ski
The Stuart Street clubrooms gained
a kindred sub-tenant in the Otago Section of the NZ Alpine Club.
A sub-committee considered the
issue of life membership. In particular they looked at the tendency
to award this honour to people of "advanced" age, and the
possibility of deserving candidates missing out because they were
unknown to the current active members. As a result, Richard
Pettinger, Ken Mason and Bruce Mason, who had all been continuously
active in the Club since the 1960s, were elected Life Members at the
1986 AGM. John Pohl was elected President. John Hamel resigned as
Honorary Solicitor due to ill health and was succeeded by his son
Antony. This continued a family association with the Club as John's
father had been a founding member.
With slide shows forming a major
part of Thursday night proceedings at the clubrooms, a modem
magazine slide projector with a long throw lens and remote control
In April 1987 we entered into
discussion with the OUTC to finalise our occupation of the Big Hut
on the Rock and Pillars. This hut had been built by the Otago Ski
Club before they moved to Coronet Peak, and is an ideal base for
cross country skiing.
Another topic of ongoing
discussion was the firebreak track through the Ben Rudd property.
This was upgraded when Telecom laid a fibre optic cable to Swampy,
but we felt it exceeded the approval we had given. However the Club
had to balance its wish to see the track revert to less of a
landscape scar, against the prospect of an opportunity for access to
enable the removal of the plantation on our property.
Spen Walker, when declining
nomination for President at the 1986 AGM, had promised "next year
and was duly elected in 1987.
The annual snowcaving trip had
problems with the local authority and adjoining landowner in gaining
access to the traditional site on the Old Man Range. This was to be
the beginning of a battle involving the Ombudsman and FMC, with
great dedication from many OTMC members. The battle was eventually
In February, a bicycle trip to
Dunback attracted 14 riders, while Bushcraft was over subscribed.
April saw the end of our occupancy
of 261 Stuart Street, as the building was to be demolished. We moved
to premises in Dowling St and changed Club night to Monday. However
both the premises and the day were less than ideal, and in July we
moved to a church hall in Russell Street and reverted to Thursday
In May the Club formally took over
Big Hut for the princely sum of $300. On a sadder note, historic
Green Hut, which had long been a target for vandals, was damaged
beyond repair. It was demolished between 13 and 15 July 1988, just
over 65 years from its opening.
The Club also decided that 25 Mile
Hut was too far from Dunedin for us to maintain, and too close to
the road to get much use by our members. Accordingly it was offered,
without success, to the Wakatipu and Central Otago Tramping Clubs.
The 1988-89 President was David Peacock. Under h|6 leadership a
contract was finally let for harvesting the Ben Rudd plantation. The
trees were removed over Christmas, and work began on restoring the
site to a state compatible with the adjacent reserve.
The Bushcraft Ohau trip, with over
60 people on it, encountered floods. Virtually the entire trip was a
day overdue, with only those in the Temple reaching the road on the
Sunday. It was certainly a valuable learning experience for those
Stuart Mathieson was elected to
the presidency at the 1989 AGM. As was often the case, the Ben Rudd
property was a topic for discussion, following a controversial
proposal that the property be disposed of. It was agreed that work
would continue on restoring the area to a natural state.
On the 4th of November 1989, after
numerous attempts and a certain amount of ribbing, Doug Forrester
finally stood atop Mt Aspiring.
In February, Social Convener
Elspeth Gold scored a great coup. Sir Edmund Hillary was to be in
Dunedin as Festival Week guest. Elspeth rang the DCC and invited him
round for a "cuppa" on the Thursday. He couldn't make Thursday, so
at very short notice a Monday function was arranged. The clubrooms
were packed to hear an informal address by the much admired climber,
followed by the promised "cuppa".
On the 22nd March 1990, a Special
General Meeting approved the purchase of the former TAB building at
3 Young Street, St Kilda for $45 000. Those who had been looking at
numerous buildings throughout the city were convinced that we got a
bargain. It did require some work to bring it up to scratch,
including the installation of an Oregon beam to support the roof
where a partition was demolished, but under Peter Mason's
supervision it was quickly transformed to a superb facility. With
its map walls, historical displays, facilities for projecting slides
and prints, library and gear hire areas, it is an ideal base for our
Club. It is also being used by the Alpine Club, Antarctic Society
and other outdoor related organisations. An official opening was
held on 21 June 1990, with Life Member Marie McDonald and husband
In June, the first of a number of
tracks on the Otago Peninsula was established or identified by the
Otago Peninsula Walkers. This group, which included a number of Club
members, was heartened by the attendance of over 400 people at the
occasion. Later, a well attended public meeting saw Elspeth Gold and
Neil Donaldson included in a DCC working party looking at improving
walking opportunities on the Peninsula.
Also in June, Club members called
out for Search and Rescue in the Taieri Gorge were pleased with
their efforts in locating the missing person safe and well until
they were told he wasn't overdue!
The 1990 AGM saw the election of
Elspeth Gold as President, while a subsequent Special General
Meeting constituted a "Ben Rudd's Fund" whereby the money received
from the trees, plus interest, could be used only for work on the
property. This was to allay concerns that the money would be used,
and the Club would later find itself with a major cost for weed
The cross country skiers had a
good season. The Central Otago District Council finally announced
that the Waikaia Bush Road on the Old Man Range would "not normally
be dosed in winter". And a well supported, week long, cross country
ski camp was held in the South Hector Mountains.
At the other end of the scale, a
large party walked the Milford Track during Anzac weekend after the
season was closed. This tramp, titled the Droflim since it was
walked in the opposite direction from normal, and finishing with a
crossing of Dore Pass, has become a bit of a Club legend.
Elspeth Gold became the first
President in many years to do two consecutive terms in office.
Unfortunately this period was made difficult for the committee by an
ongoing disagreement over tactics and personalities involved in
environmental/access politics. Despite strenuous attempts by the
committee to mediate and find a peaceful solution, the situation
culminated in the resignation of Life Member Bruce Mason.
On a brighter note, the first
National Walk Week, organised by FMC, was run in March. The Club
organised well supported walks on the Otago Peninsula.
Antony Pettinger was the 1992-93
President, and the Club moved into the electronic age with the
purchase of a computer for use by the Secretary, Treasurer and
The Christmas trip was a well
supported rafting expedition to the Clarence River.
The Club was saddened by the
tragic death of Mary Clark after a fall on a Club day trip to the
Catlins. Mary's death is believed to be the only fatality on a Club
trip in its 70 year history.
As the Club moves into its eighth
decade, I believe it continues to fulfill all its major expectations
- to provide a variety of trips for people with a variety of levels
of experience, to provide a social environment for people with a
love of our country's wild and scenic places, and to work for the
continued protection and availability of those places.
Roll on the next 70 years!