Blog | Page 2


Hail to Susie Hale!


 Susie Hale - VMTC President


~  Written by Sandra Bucovaz

The Victorian Mountain Tramping Club (VMTC) is bucking the trend of ageing bushwalking clubs with the election of a young female adventurer as its new president.

The club’s recently elected president is Susie Hale, ‘fresh off’ a 153-day solo trip on the 4,280km Pacific Crest Trail which she completed in 153 days earlier this year. Other major accomplishments on her impressive walking CV include leading a VMTC group who completed the Australian Alpine Walking Track in 42 days.

Having grown up in a bushwalking family, the outdoors is where 29-year old Susie spends most of her time at work and play. With a Bachelor in Wildlife and Conservation Biology (Honours) and as part of her PhD thesis in ecology, Susie is currently researching small mammals in the Grampians and their responses to fire and climate.

Susie is the youngest president in the 70-year-history of the VMTC which recently celebrated its milestone anniversary. She was attracted to the club by its signatory spirit of adventure, camaraderie and outdoor pursuits ranging from bushwalking to cycling to canyoning, to cross country skiing, ski touring, snow shoeing and snow camping to interstate and overseas trips. She loves the knowledge base within the club and the conversation and company of members who come from all walks of life.

As the new president, she considers her greatest challenge is to promote the value of being a member of a club and increase membership, particularly bringing in younger people. She also hopes to maintain and hopefully increase the number of adventurous trips (off track, remote, extended) which has been part of the driving philosophy of the club since it was founded.

What attracted you to the VMTC?

I joined the VMTC about three years ago to find some partners in adventure. I was slightly nervous at first but quickly learned that it didn’t matter if you are slower or less experienced, other members respect you because you make an effort. I highly recommend joining a hiking club and wish I had done so sooner.

What do you enjoy most about the VMTC?

The VMTC has introduced me to a wide range of people who have since become solid friends who I respect incredibly. The eclectic group of people with a shared passion makes for a tremendous time and can allow you to undertake new escapades with like-minded and passionate people who are willing to share their skills. There is an enormous knowledge-base within the membership.

What do you hope to achieve as president?

I have become president to give a little back to the club I love so much. I have experienced so much freedom, a range of challenges and real wildness as part of this club and I want to ensure that that it can continue to do this for the next generation. My main aims as president are to ensure that the club maintains its reputation for challenging and adventurous trips that take you all over the state, country and world and that we increase our membership, especially that of the younger generation.

When did your love of the outdoors start?

My love for the outdoors has always been fostered lovingly by my parents and has been a constant in my life. I decided to get into environmental research as it allows me to get outdoors regularly as part of my data collection but also gives me an opportunity to help protect our wild places and wildlife which mean so much to me.

Did you bushwalk as a family?

My Dad was an avid bushwalker in his younger years and started to take me and my brother out on overnight hikes from about the age of eight. I remember our first hike vividly, it was at Lake Mountain. We wandered along wide, grassy paths to a small camp spot near a pond, proudly carrying our sleeping bags and clothes in our school bags as Dad hauled the rest of the gear. We spent the evening trying to catch frogs in the chilly water, their calls increasingly coming from the far side of the shallow water. We went on to do many challenging trips together where I learnt to read maps and navigate and of course how to deal with being ‘misplaced’. We were never ‘lost’, as my Dad would say.

What is it about long distance walking and what is next on your radar?

Long distance walks hold great appeal for me. Immersing myself in nature with a highly simplified life is a great feeling, living to walk and soak up the surroundings gives me a lot of inner peace and tranquillity that I can sometimes lack in my everyday life in the city. Challenging walks are not only physically rewarding but you also get to experience areas that are virtually untouched, which have a wild and rugged beauty.

My next longish adventure is to the Eastern and Western Arthurs in Tasmania in 2019 and longer term, I am eagerly researching the Kungsleden in Sweden and the Continental Divide Trail in the US.

What are your greatest achievements as a bushwalker?

My greatest achievement so far would probably be the Pacific Crest Trail. I spent five months wandering north on the foot-wide trail through desert, snow, mud, mountains, plains, forest and everything in-between. The simplicity of waking up every day and knowing that all I had to do was head north and the wide variety of people I met on the trail was incredible.

What was your greatest challenge on the Pacific Crest Trail?

Solo river crossings in the Sierra Nevada Mountains were the greatest challenge. I had had limited experience so I researched the techniques and practiced in smaller creeks and rivers when I first entered the high mountains. Each time the roar of a river became audible to me butterflies started to gently flutter in the pit of my stomach. My practice and research paid off and I made it through heart racing, leg grabbing and foot freezing rivers.

Do you have any heroes?

I don’t really have any heroes but I greatly admire people who chase their passions and are committed to enjoying their everyday.

If you would like any further information on the VMTC, Susie Hale is happy to be contacted on 0420 535 154 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. She can be hard to catch as she is often out in the field for work, or play!

Or you can contact Sandra Bucovaz 0401 617 122/ This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Gift Ideas for Bushwalkers

Busy with your Santa list?


Christmas Gifts for Bushwalkers


















 Apart from the usual wishlist for new boots, backpacks, clothes and tents, here are some other gift ideas and stocking fillers for bushwalkers:

 ~ Eco Friendly food storage.

 ~ Membership of a Bushwalking Club. Browse bushwalking clubs here for one near you and inquire with them to 'gift wrap' a membership for you. 

 ~ Bushwalking Ornaments.

~ For lovers of hot drinks, a collapsible outdoor camping kettle,  coffee plunger mug or personalised resusable cup. 

Bushwalking books such as Leave No Trace - A Guide to the new wilderness etiquette, Epic Hikes of the World or Best Walks of Victoria's High Country. 

~ Handy tools such a multi function axe tool

~ Put a smile on their face with something funny

~  Adventure gadgets

~ A journal to record all those magic moments bushwalking.

~ A stargazing app.

A bush tucker guide

A bushwalking recipe book.


Wishing you a blessed festive season and plenty of amazing bushwalks! 


Food packing tips for bushwalks

Brad Lester cartoon 2 websized


It is all about meal planning bushwalkers and avoiding the temptation to prepare for a famine - thank you to cartoonist, Brad Lester for this fantastic cartoon of what not to do!

So where to start... Here are some of the main considerations from a comprehensive article by Peter Byrd, a writer for Professional Camping. Read more here.

Do remember that bushwalking with a backpack and camping is not the same thing. There is no esky nor boot space and you have to carry your pack all day. Pack for lightness and optimal nutrition not "I may feel like eating a watermelon at some stage!" Here are some handy tips:

  1. What is the duration and intensity of your bushwalk - how many meals do you need to prepare and pack?
  3. What activities will you be participating in, just walking, walking and climbing, walking and kayaking, etc.?
  5. Most bushwalkers need about 3500 calories a day for long walks depending on fitness levels and metabolism, so make sure you have food that not only tastes good but will keep your energy levels up and provide adequate nutrition.
  7. What will the weather be like on your bushwalk? In cold climates, you will burn more energy keeping warm. A handy tip if you will be walking/skiing in snow, is to you keep foods in the pockets close to your body to make sure it doesn't freeze or in the centre of your pack, not in outside pockets. In warmer months, staying hydrated is as important as staying nourished.
  9.  The best foods to take on a multi-day bushwalk are lightweight, have a low glycemic index (GI), are easy to prepare, foods you like eating, are preferably dehydrated foods and lend themselves to adding spices to provide a variety in taste.
  11. Canned foods seem like a good idea but they are heavy and you have to take your rubbish with you, so you will have to carry empty cans in your pack.
  13. You have to carry sufficient drinking water for the conditions that are expected as well as purifying tables or a filtration system that is lightweight.
  15.  Coffee, tea, hot chocolate or other powdered drink options to add to cold or hot water will create variety for your taste buds.  
  17. Decide which cooking equipment you need, what you will use as fuel and how many meals you will be preparing using fuel. Keep potential fire bans in mind. Also prepare for cleaning up.  
  19. Remember that you need to take your rubbish and uneaten food with you, so plan ahead. Take enough robust rubbish bags. An old-fashioned string bag, that can be tied to your pack, is handy to carry bags of rubbish outside of your pack or to seperate it from other items in your pack. If you are looking for re-usable or compostable food storage bags and wraps, have a look here and here as well as here
  21. Proper food storage, especially overnight when camping, is essential as you don't want wildlife to pick up on the food smell and eat your food, so use storage bags that close off food smells.  
  23. Individually pack every meal.  
  25. Label every package before you mix up powdered milk with powdered potatoes! If you need cooking instructions, write these on the packet as well as the calorie count, if that will be significant on your trip, and the date you packed the food.
  27. Camp cooking for a bushwalker is not about gourmet meals - it is surprising what you relish deep in the High Country but would look down on at home! Have a look at our Pintrest Board filled with recipe ideas here
  29.  Pack properly with snacks and water within easy reach, lunch close and dinner and next day meals further to the bottom of your pack
  31.  Find out if resupply boxes are available on your route and use those to re-stock your food and water supplies or ask someone to mail food and other supplies to be collected at post offices en route if that is an option. Here's a book that may be handy: The Dietitian's Resupply Box - A Guide to Thru-Hiking on a Plant-based diet. You can also read more about re-supply here. This is an example of a food resupply service in Australia. 

For more details and tips, have a look at a comprehensive guide in the Outdoor Leader Online here.  


Book Review by Liz Robinson

Plants of the Victorian High Country: A Field Guide for Walkers, 2nd Edition

by John Murphy and Bill Dowling

Published by CSIRO Publishing, October 2018

168 pages, paperback, colour photographs, AU $39.99

ISBN: 9781486309016


Book Review


If, like me, you love the outdoors but sometimes need a good excuse to stop and breathe during a bushwalk, then this book’s for you! It will encourage walkers with little botanical knowledge to take time on the track to identify the plants they see in Victoria's High Country.

This second edition describes 133 plants found in the montane, sub-alpine and alpine zones (altitudes above 900 metres). For ease of identification, plants are categorised in five groups: herbs, daisy herbs, low woody shrubs, tall shrubs and trees (other than eucalypts), and eucalypts. In practice, I found that determining which group a plant belonged to could be confusing – tall herbs and small, woody shrubs can be quite similar. Fortunately, the detailed plant descriptions are accompanied by 155 clear colour photographs of flowers, leaves, stems, fruits and seed pods.

 As photos make identification much easier, it was disappointing that no photographs were included of the eight described eucalypts. Although their bark may be the most reliable distinguishing feature, a photo or sketch of the leaves, flowers and fruits would assist a layperson.

The guide includes a glossary of botanical terms and very helpful sketches of six flower types; the index lists plants by both species and common name. This edition also includes brief but fascinating information on the Aboriginal use of the plants – for food, hunger or thirst suppressant, as fibre for weaving or for medicinal use – although the authors are careful to remind readers that many plants that look edible are actually poisonous.

Whilst most bushwalkers would be aware that the High Country is located in north-east Victoria, and features national parks and Victoria’s highest mountains, I think that the inclusion of a map showing the location and breadth of the High Country would make the guide more appealing to travellers or occasional walkers. I would also have liked an indication of which plants were rare, vulnerable or endangered.

Minor criticisms aside, Plants of the Victorian High Country is recommended for walkers and nature lovers alike. It fits easily in a backpack, and with flowering seasons extending from August to May, there’s always something new to discover whilst exploring your next mountain. You can purchase the book here

Liz Robinson

Koonung Bushwalking Club

Looking for something?

Want to receive Bushwalking News?

Subscribe below to our
monthly news bulletin:

Email address:

First Name:

Last Name:


Stay Connected

Admin Users only required to login.
Other users no longer have to log in to gain access to walks and member resources