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Some History

The origin of the Western Walking Club can be traced back to 12th August 1937, when with the encouragement of co founder Nancy Morgan, a meeting was held to discuss the possibilities of forming a walking club. At a subsequent meeting on 29th August, it was decided to form the “Golden West Walking Club”. Officers were elected and annual subscription was set at five shillings (50c). A month later the name was changed to “The Western Walking Club”. 



A program of walks and other activities was drawn up and the club was under way. The first club walk took place in August 1937 with a group of three men and six women walking from Subiaco at the edge of suburbia, along the “old plank road” and through the sand hills to City Beach.

 

 
First club walk 1917

In those early days walks were conducted in places such as Kings Park with a break for “billy tea” (camp fires in Kings Park!!) and in John Forrest National Park, this being an all day event with transport from Perth Railway station by train. Other walks included one around East Perth and Belmont crossing the river on the fire damaged Bunbury Railway Bridge and another walk between train connections at Kalamunda and Mundaring.   Walks are still conducted in these areas and still provide “fine views from points quite new to some of the party”, enabling us to discover our State and City in new and interesting ways, even if refreshing billy tea has been replaced by a thermos. Sixteen walks were conducted in the first full year of 1938. In recent years the club organizes over 100 walks in the year including weekends away and overnight camping walks.


The first treasurer’s report in December 1937, announced ‘a very satisfactory’ cash in hand of 2 pounds 13 shillings and 3 pence.  Annual subscriptions of five shillings (50 cents) were dropped to two shillings and six pence during the war years.


It is recorded that in October 1942, three ladies completed a walking tour from Donnybrook to Pemberton, a distance of 120 miles. After the war, membership gradually increased, as did the variety of walks and other activities such as weekends away. Until the early sixties public transport was used to get to the starting points of walks. Until 1978, the Seaforth to Crystal Brook walk was still accessed by public transport – usually at a hectic pace over the last stretch (uphill!) to catch the bus home.


Magazine cover

 1954 saw the commencement of the magazine which has progressed from an eleven page duplicated publication to a full colour twenty page presentation as from 2006. In 1972, the club was incorporated, and later in the seventies, became involved in the “Life-Be-In-It” campaign. The numbers on walks increased dramatically (100 plus on some easy walks) with a consequent increase in the time for a walk. In 1979, the problem was somewhat alleviated by scheduling two walks for each Sunday wherever possible – one easy and the other for more experienced walkers.  




Bibbulmun opening

The year 1973 saw the opening of the first section of the Bibbulmun track with the club, and its President of the time, Bob Frayne, playing a part in paving the way.


The “Bibb” still holds a significant place in the life of the club with several of our walks incorporating sections of the track, members walking long sections and a few being “end to enders”.   Club members also volunteer to maintain sections of the track.

Bibbulmun Southern terminal

Regular weekly summer walks were introduced in 1982, and have been an important part of the program ever since. Club membership topped the hundred in 1966/7, reached a peak of 267 in 1988, and in recent years, has fluctuated around the 140 to 210 mark. Over the years, a number of members who made exemplary contributions were granted life membership. Early in 1984, the club received a $1000 legacy from the estate of Cyril Brown, a long time member. This assisted the club library for a number of years, which contains many books and magazines relating to walking and nature. The library now consists of around 150 items.

Training courses were first mentioned in 1956 following a shortage of leaders, with occasional courses in following years. Regular annual training courses commenced in 2004, and in 2009 were expanded to include a course on the use of a GPS. In recent years, first aid training has become a higher priority with the club trying to ensure a trained person will be on most walks. In 2001 the club established a web site which now provides the main contact with the public and a source of many new members.


The club continues to provide two walks in the hills every Sunday in winter months. These are graded from easy, to medium to hard. Easier walks around the metropolitan area are conducted during the summer months. Trips away staying in caravans and chalets or camping, at Christmas, Easter and long weekends continue to be very popular and provide opportunities to walk in other locations, mainly our south-west.



During 2012 the club celebrated its 75th Anniversary and produced a comprehensive publication outlining the highlights of the organization from 1937 to 2012 together with details of office bearers and significant personalities. The 140 pages of this publication provide much more historical information and photos than can be included in this brief summary of the Club’s history. Copies are available from the club secretary or can be borrowed from the club library.  An archive copy is lodged with the State Library of WA

75th Book

The on-going success of the club is very much the result of our many enthusiastic members, the support and dedication of our office bearers and the tireless work of our willing leaders.


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