Serious Bushwalkers: The Rescue Squad
Saturday night in the Coogee Bay Hotel, I celebrated 75 years of a remarkable body of volunteers, the Bushwalkers Wilderness Rescue Squad.
Bushwalking got underway in Australia in the 1920s as people discovered the beauty and penetrated the mystery of wild Australian forests. By the 1930s there was a need for organised rescue for those who got into trouble. That was the start of the venture, but it’s technologically very advanced these days.
I reminded the dinner of the remarkable expansion in New South Wales national parks, of the 350 new parks and the big wilderness declarations during my years in politics, and I congratulated them on working to minimise the danger.
Incidentally, the October National Geographic contains an article on what they call “Australia’s Slot Canyons” with photos of staggeringly beautiful, but decidedly dangerous, hidden canyons of the Blue Mountains where canyoneers are forced to fly into the void. One of them, Carsten Peter, was interviewed in the article about his experience in the Black Hole of Calcutta in Claustral Canyon. He said, “It feels like being swallowed by the Earth.” Another canyon – described in the article – drops more than 2,000 feet over 1.5 miles. Danae Brook Canyon requires canyoneers to make nine or more rope descents and to swim through deep pools. It was discovered by the legendary conservationist Myles Dunphy in the 1920s.
Myles was one of the pioneers of bushwalking and nature conservation in Australia.
This article illuminated some of the challenges of bush rescue faced by members of a volunteering organisation who train themselves to make the wilderness, if not safe (thinking of those canyons) at least less dangerous.