Club membership (based on paid-up members) has steadily risen from about 23 in 1986 to 90 when the Club was incorporated in 1989, 125 in 1997, to 180 in 2000.
The Club has always encouraged car sharing as an environmentally friendly way to conserve fuel. At the meeting on 6.10.88 a motion was passed that a charge of 10 cents per kilometre per vehicle be made and shared by the driver and all passengers. This was increased to 15c/km per person and in 2000 to 25c to keep up with increasing fuel costs.
A Notice of Meeting in the NBT, for May 1990 told of "an evening of recalling our walks of the past few years and attempting to plot them on 1:100,000 maps. This will form a sort of data base of ideas for future walks. Don't forget to bring along photos for our album." (There does not seem to be any record of this meeting or of that photo album. A pity. Ed.)
In April 1991 there was discussion on use of funds as the Club had a credit balance of $384. It was agreed that an amount of $100 be spent on establishing a library of books useful for newcomers to bushwalking. This collection has been added to and, together with a range of 1:100,000 maps of the Shoalhaven and other areas in NSW visited by the Club, is a good resource for all members. At the AGM August 1995 Elizabeth Backer was appointed librarian to supervise and promote the library. This position has been held by Bev and John Miles and currently by Sigrid Linke. They have brought the library to Club meetings and by operating from the boots of their cars at the Aeroplane Meeting Place.
Later a suggestion was made that the Club also have available a pool of basic equipment that could be lent to newcomers to ease the cost when starting bushwalking. Over the years such items as a backpack, canoe, tent, large tarpaulin, a disposable camera and an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) have been added - these also to be borrowed by members. This pool of assorted gear would be held at a central location, a register of assets be kept and a charge be made for borrowing. The idea of loaning gear came after the finding of a canoe on a walk on Comerong Island.
In September the first Kid's Walk was included in the program. Sally Leslie 'led' a small group of 'younger walkers' along Bomaderry Creek to the Camellia Gardens. Among other walks that followed were Comerong Island, Greenfields and Jervis Bay.
1992, and congratulations to Russ Evans, the Club's Vice-President, on receiving the Commonwealth Public Service Medal in the Australia Day Awards. This award was for Russ's work as town planner with the Shoalhaven City Council and for his contribution over many years as a member and then a Fellow of the Royal Australian Planning Institute.
In his Annual Report 1992-3, the President, Norm Smith wrote - "The past year has been a successful one for the Club. The scheduled activities for the weekends have included 26 day trips, 17 two day trips and 5 of three days or more. While not all of these events actually occurred as planned, this still represents about 75 days of activities that did occur... Forty walkers form the Wednesday group... a spirited team of people who go to many unusual areas and have a good time getting there. They average more than twenty people on each of their walks, which are held on about forty-five days of the year. This makes the Wednesday walks the most popular of the club activities.
"Throughout the year the Club has participated in community activities. One of these was the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the opening of Ben's Walk by the Lands Department and City Council. A party of thirty people enjoyed a guided tour conducted by Brian Kenny and then a barbecue at the Showground Lookout.
"Another event was the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Youth Hostels Association. Our team was allocated Corang Peak to climb on the same day as 49 other peaks in NSW and ACT were being climbed by other groups. Our group celebrated their achievement in fine social style with a chicken and champagne lunch on top of the peak."
Membership Cards were issued to all paid-up members to make for easier book-keeping by the Treasurer and for identification in stores that offer Club members a discount on camping goods, etc. At the AGM in 1994 membership fees were increased to $15 per family and $10 per single.
The Club now had an attractive logo designed by Susan Prescott of Kangaroo Valley, a silver lyrebird on a circular black background. It will be been used as the official logo on Club stationery, as a 75mm cloth badge for sale to members to sew on packs, hats, jackets, etc. and later, in 1996, on car stickers.
By 1994-5 a number of new leaders were taking groups on an ever widening range of walks. They included Nick Lloyd, Lillian Koglin, Harry Croft, Barry Virtue, Daphne McCann, Gordon Grenenger, Denise Davies and Sandra Kelley. This was a most welcome addition to the existing core of experienced leaders as the number of members joining the Club was steadily growing. In March a workshop for walks leaders was held and in early April seven club members attended a Wilderness Rescue training course at Coutts Camp.
Concerns were being raised about the fitness and general capacity of some newcomers wanting to walk with the Club. This matter arose from interest being shown in 'leisure walks', a level of walking ability somewhat easier than the Club's present walk's categories. After discussion it was agreed to continue with the present gradings and the Shoalhaven Bushwalkers assist those inquiring about easier and shorter walks to join or form a separate club aimed at 'leisure/pleasure walking'. It was also agreed that a screening process should be introduced for intending members who would now have to successfully complete three day walks in a three months period before making application to join the Club. Forms for membership were designed with the date and route of the three walks undertaken to be signed by the leader at the completion of each walk. In September 1995 it was agreed there should be a joining fee and a membership fee each of $10.
Some members and especially walks leaders have questioned the possible extent of their personal liability in the case of injury or property damage resulting from a Club walk. This matter was cleared up at a recent Bushwalkers Confederation meeting. Except for some minor exclusions (crime etc.), our Club's public liability insurance through the Confederation fully covers leaders and walkers against third party liability claims, whether lodged by a member of the walking party or third persons.
The Club Historian, Barbara Robertson, had been researching the origins of the Shoalhaven Bushwalkers and it would seem that 24 April 1995 was the twentieth anniversary of the Club's founding. A number of early walkers celebrated the occasion with a gathering held after the June meeting. One of the original walkers, Peter Hancock, showed a interesting old 8mm film and slides of Shoalhaven Bushwalkers in the 1960s and 1970s. that revived good memories for members and visitors.
In 1995 the position of Liaison Officer was created and Russ Evans agreed to fill this responsible roll. He accepted nomination to be a committee member of the Confederation of Bushwalkers and continues to represent the Shoalhaven Bushwalkers on this and a number of local and state bodies.
The Club has obtained a large banner for general identification at campsites and on outings and an original theme when Fred Backer composed words and music for 'The Shoalhaven Bushwalkers March'. The words and music can be seen by following the links at the bottom of this page.
Changes to the Club's Rules were passed at the AGM in August and by November 'the Guidelines' and a handout, 'Caring for First Time Walkers' were printed and ready for distribution. Following the interest in remote First Aid by some members it was agreed that the Club purchase two videos on CPR and General First Aid. The collection of walk's reports compiled by leaders will be added to the data bank of 80 local walks being compiled by the Shoalhaven Walking Trails Sub Committee of Shoalhaven City Council.
Interest had been shown among walkers to have training programs for leaders and perspective leaders. This arose from the possibility of insurance claims following accidents on organised club walks and the responsibility of leaders in such an event. Other matters of interest were the suggestion of a 'code of ethics', need for a new design of membership card, concerns about children on walks and the compiling of a walk's register. The Club addressed these matters at following meetings.
At the AGM in August 1996 Ray Kates was re-elected President and in his report of the previous twelve months he challenged members to consider "our obligations in providing the necessary opportunities to allow the Club to meets its objectives." These he gave as "1 - to provide a meeting ground for those interested in any form of bushwalking and to organise walks and camps to cater for bushwalking activities and allied interest. 2 - to affiliate with, and promote or assist any association ... which directly or indirectly furthers the activities of the Club and the preservation of the bushland environment."
At the start of 1997 the membership was 125 and there was a balance of $1514. More financial members were participating in Club functions and on weekend and mid-week walks, (with up to 50 setting off some Wednesdays). With these numbers continuing to increase concern was felt that this was not an ecologically acceptable way to go, certainly not in the interest of the minimal impact bushwalking code that the Club aims to practice.
In March 1995 Fred Backer had reminded the Club of the Bushwalking Code for Fragile Areas. "The combined National Parks, Wildlife and Conservation services of NSW, ACT, Victoria and Tasmania are progressively developing and implementing a Minimum Impact Bushwalking code to prevent particularly sensitive areas from being 'loved to death'. These include the alpine areas of Tasmania's World Heritage Area, and of the Kosciusko (NSW), Namadgi (ACT) and Alpine (Vic) National Parks. Some minimum impact techniques are recommendations only at present - others already carry the weight of the law.
"The most immediately important one in the latter category is the declaration of 'fuel stove only areas' in many national parks, including all areas of Kosciusko National Park above 1700m. Note that in these areas campfires are no longer allowed at any time of the year.
"Other minimum impact requirements will be progressively implemented, many of them make eminent sense anywhere. Some examples - stay on the track if there is one, spread out if there isn't. Pack it in, pack it out. Don't wash in streams or lakes. Go for 'no-trace' camping. Carry a lightweight trowel and bury your faecal waste at least 15cm deep."
Russ Evans later wrote an article for The Ettremist on this subject, part of which stated - "I do not subscribe to the view that people should be regarded as 'intruders' in the bush - we have as much right to be part of it as any other species. But, because of the capacity of human beings to damage the environment, we have a special responsibility to take care of it. Some aspect worth highlighting are - if possible, avoid wet areas- particularly on slopes - where walking routes can create gullies and lead to erosion and vegetation damage. Go around the mounds of lyrebirds and other birds, not over them. Spread out in open country where there are no tracks rather than travel in Indian file."
By March 1997 it was agreed that an additional group, an Intermediate category, be formed with a grading of 'partly off-track' to offer an alternative level of difficulty and to relieve the numbers on the other two mid-week walks. After a slow start, walks have averaged out to between ten and eighteen walkers in each Wednesday group.
Large numbers were not a concern on weekend walks. Rather, there were fewer members walking and some planned walks had to be called off because there were not the minimum number of four starters to make it an official club outing. Various suggestions were offered to raise interest in these weekend walks and it was agreed to advertise the Club's activities in the local media, and to produce a brief handout and a more detailed news sheet for distribution to local libraries, neighbourhood centres and tourist information centres.
By the late Nineties additional members had offered to lead walks. These included John Goodwin, Karen and Brett Davis, Sue Bosdyk, Lauri Ball, Tom Derby, Bob Turnbull, Bev and John Miles, Noel Southwell and Don Raffell. Walkers appreciated the opportunity to gain extra training on day walks that included tuition in map and compass reading and other bushwalking skills. In October two members, Denise Davies and Kynie Everson attended a First Aid course and followed this up with a demonstration talk at a General Meeting of the Club.
By early 1999 Dawn Evans and others arranged an 'Introduction to Bushwalking' program with a variety of walks, overnight backpacking and camping, car camping and 'remote first aid', for those who have never experienced these activities.
The register of walks compiled by Noel Southwell and Lauri Ball now numbered 35 and more were to be added. The walks are grouped into areas, each with information on length, grade and description. These could be included with the inventory of 150 local walking tracks being collated by Shoalhaven City Council.
Barbara Robertson wrote in her President's Report for 1997/8 - "The Shoalhaven Bushwalkers have completed another year of varied and enjoyable walks. As this is the principle aim of the Club we can feel justifiably pleased with the success of most of our activities. This success is mainly due to the ongoing efforts of our two Walks Committees, the backbone of the Club. For the enthusiasm, time and thought that goes into the planning of up to four walks a week by these committees and especially to the coordinators, Leila Kates and Yvonne White, a sincere thanks from all your 'followers'."
At mid-year the Club had a membership of 166 and a credit balance of $2463. While seeing this increase as a positive move the incoming President for 1999/2000, Chris Cuthbert said "it is also important to increase our walking skills. At the next Committee Meeting we hope to finalise the Club's 'Guidelines to Walking' which will included suggestions for safe bushwalking and ways to minimise our impact on the environment." Russ reviewed the limited Search and Rescue skills and experience of the current members and agreed to contact individuals with nominated capabilities to form a possible S and R team.
There was a change in the Club's Rules passed at the 2000 AGM that allows the Liaison Officer, Editor and Social Secretary to vote at Committee Meetings but the motion to reduce the number of ordinary members on the Committee from five to three was rejected.
In August, 2001 Club fees increased from $10 to $15 due to rising costs particularly our insurance cover through the Confederation of Bushwalking Clubs (now Bushwalking NSW). The Club's joining fee remains at $10.
The Yalwal Management Plan was released in 2001 with input from the Club on a range of matters of concern.