Bushwalking Victoria was originally established as the Federation of Victorian Bushwalking Clubs at a meeting on 15 May 1934. At that meeting, the first of the six aims of the new organisation was to 'Unite all Victorian walking clubs for the protection and advancement of mutual interests to promote the pastime of tour walking [as bushwalking was known at the time] and encourage good fellowship among affiliated bodies'.
To foster good fellowship among the eight inaugural member clubs, the first Federation Walk was organised by the Melbourne Amateur Walking and Touring Club and held on 6 October 1935. The tradition of a member club organising a walk event was thereby created. Unfortunately we don't know the location of the first walk.
2015 will therefore mark the 80th anniversary of the first Federation Walk. No Federation Walks were held during the war years 1941 to 1946. A couple of events were cancelled: the 1952 event due to a train strike (that wouldn't happen today - cancellation due to a train strike, I mean!) and the 2009 event due to the Black Saturday bushfires that devastated the intended walk area.
Over the years the numbers attending each event have waxed and waned somewhat. A number of clubs have organised and run the event more than once. While I wasn't there in the early, or even not so early, years (I attended my first Federation Walk in 1987), I can confidently say that over all those years the good fellowship and enjoyment that flows from walking with fellow walkers from member clubs has been a constant. And after last year's event at Rawson, hosted by four Gippsland clubs, we now have data to back this up (see below).
Permanent Federations Walks website
In 2014, the organising clubs and Bushwalking Victoria created a new dedicated Federation Walks website to be used to promote and organise the annual event at http://www.fedwalks.org.au/.
A History page has been added to the site on which readers can find more about the history of Federation Walks, including details of the date, location and organising club(s) for each event since 1935.
Federation Walks Weekend 2014 Feedback
One of the innovations introduced by the clubs organising the 2014 Federation Walks was online registrations by individual walkers. Previously, walker registration was done through the clubs. As registration included email address information, Bushwalking Victoria and the organising clubs were able to conduct an online survey of attendees following the event to gather feedback to help ensure the continued success of Federation Walks.
The response to the survey was high. Of the 295 people who registered, 181 (60%) entered the survey and 175 completed it. As anyone that has conducted surveys will attest, these are excellent numbers.
- 93% of respondents prefer a weekend event to a day event.
(This perhaps is no surprise given it was a weekend event.)
- 85% of respondents prefer a yearly event, 1.6% prefer an event twice a year and 12% prefer every two years.
- 70% of respondents rated the cost of the weekend as Very Good value and 29% rated it at Good Value.
- 83% of respondents gave the reason they attended as 'to meet and walk with walkers from other clubs' and 63% also said they attended to socialise with other walkers.
- 85.5% of the respondents rated the weekend as Very Enjoyable and 12.7% rated it as Enjoyable.
Another stand-out from the survey was that almost every person who responded took the time and trouble to comment on aspects of the weekend.
So we now have data to back up our claims about how enjoyable Federation Walks are, and lots of wonderful and helpful comments and suggestions. If you attended the 2014 event, check out the report online. If you have never been to one you will see you are missing out on an exciting and thoroughly enjoyable bushwalking experience.
2015 and future Federation Walks
The 2015 Federation Walks are being hosted and organised by Bayside Bushwalking Club and the Great Dividing Trail Association. Walks will be in the Daylesford and Hepburn Springs areas on the weekend of 24 and 25 October. See the Notice 1 below, and website where information will be updated progressively.
Chris Towers, Bushwalking Victoria board member