Ballarat Bushwalking and Outdoor Club
Rat Tales, August 2014, newsletter of the Ballarat Bushwalking and Outdoor Club
Avro Plane Crash Memorial Track Clearing Project
The weekend just gone of 23-24 August saw us complete Round 5 of the track clearing project at Mt Torbreck. We began work at 10.30am on Saturday at a large uprooted tree that we were expecting to be a challenge. But thanks to a new member in Brenton, who is ex-DSE, and Andy and Paul on chainsaws plus Tim who had the forethought to bring a hand winch, we made light work of it and it was gone in no time.
At the memorial itself, we all contributed to chainsaw work, brush cutting and debris removal, and after roughly 30 minutes we had the site looking like it did when it was built in the early 1960s.
After five trips totalling eight full days of work and 19 participants across all trips, at 1pm for the first time in decades there is a 2.4km clear uninterrupted track from Barnewall Plains Rd to the memorial site.
After basking in the sunshine and enjoying lunch together as a group on the steps of the memorial cairn, we packed up our gear for the last time and started down the mountain. During the walk down, seeing sections of the track meander its way along the side of the mountain was a very rewarding experience that filled me with a great sense of pride in what we had achieved.
I can't begin to express my gratitude to the 19 guys who participated in some way or another. We met all types of challenges, such as monstrous mountain ash trees completely sealing off the track and everything around it, dense regrowth that seemed like it would never be removed and all types of weather including snow. Not once was there anyone who thought it was too hard or that it couldn't be done; we all just rolled up our sleeves and got the job done. I have no doubt that I have established some life-long friendships out of these experiences in our endeavour to have a part of our history restored.
Here is a list of the19 participants. Pat Mills, Ryan Lane, Steve Dykes, Nick Dykes, Rob Woolfe, Shane Bayliss, Andrew Casey, Jake Casey, Andy Kelly, Paul Fletcher, Nathan Earl, Shane Millard, Tim Slade, Steve Considine, Phil Guinta, Mick Braybon, Brenton Luke, Andrew Mason and Jack Mason.
A big thank you has to go out to the DEPI for allowing this project to happen, in particular Lucas Russell and Senior Forest Ranger James Cowell. Right from the start they have both been very helpful, approachable and enthusiastic about the project and without them it would have been much harder if not impossible to get it off the ground. Now it's time to hand the track and memorial site back to them in the best condition it's been in decades.
I would also like to thank David Hibbert and his Artworkz team for doing such a wonderful job in publicising the area with their tourism brochures, fact sheets and their online eSpalsh publications. Through them it is creating the awareness that the site needs to ensure its longevity. We saw this first hand on Saturday afternoon when a German tourist arrived to walk up to the memorial after been given a brochure at the Alexandra Information Centre.
Editor's note: For an overview of the Avro Anson plane crash at Mt Torbeck and the Anthony's track clearing efforts, go to http://www.deathrailwaytours.com.au/files/fs-174-Avro_Anson_Plane_Crash_Mt_Torbreck.pdf.