Remembering the Overland Track

Scouts on the top of Mt Ossa in 1960/61 Back row, left to right: Peter Motteram, Bill Corker, Alastair Christie, Ken O’Connor, Barry Johnson, Bob Moran, John Allard, David Dyson, Geoff Hindle. Front row, left to right: Ken Harvey, Edgar Smith, Ian Kerr, Nairn Elder, Gavin Faichney, Tony Stegman, David Trace.

Eight members of a group of senior Scouts who walked Tasmania’s Overland Track 50 years ago got together recently to reminisce, look at slides, and marvel how quickly half a century had passed since the mountain-hopping days of their youth.

The Scouts had first walked the track in the summer of 1954/55, and they did it again in 1956/57, 1958/59 and 1960/61. There were other trips to the region after that, but these four trips were all tackled by large groups of senior Scouts going from south to north and climbing many mountains over at least eight days. The first two trips were led by the late Doug Callister (’48) who formed the Senior Scouts in 1954 and was its leader for several years.

‘We were wonderfully fit, and raced each other up and down mountains – no sense of competition, of course!’

The 1960/61 party consisted of 15 senior Scouts led by Bob Moran (’54), and we spent 10 days walking the track and climbing nine mountains. We flew to Hobart on Boxing Day 1960, and two days later travelled to Cynthia Bay at the southern end of Lake St Clair. We then walked the lakeside track and camped near Narcissus Hut at the northern end of the lake. Day Two saw us on Mt Olympus, and the following day we finished near Pine Valley Hut, 4.8km from the main Overland Track.

In the next two days we climbed Mt Gould, The Parthenon, the Acropolis and explored the Labyrinth. On Day Five we visited Ferguson and Hartnett Falls. On Days Six and Seven we climbed Mt Ossa and Pelion East.

Poor weather dominated the eighth day, and in those days we had heavy rubberised ponchos/groundsheets, heavy Japara tents and external frame packs, so the going was tough. Further, the track did not have timber walkways over soft ground or bridges over all the creeks, as in later years. On Days Nine and Ten, Barn Bluff and Cradle Mountain were satisfying conclusions to the trip.

Many of us were Queen’s Scouts and we all had good bushwalking skills. We were wonderfully fit, and raced each other up and down mountains – no sense of competition, of course!

What did those enterprising young Scouts go on to do in their careers? These were their main careers, or the last phase of their careers:


Originally published in Great Scot magazine.