President’s Report : AGM, March 21, 2022

It was gratifying to look back over the last year of activity -an easy task thanks to the wonderful work of our Webmaster, Chris- to see how active and adventurous we have been as a Club.

In spite of the persistence of COVID restrictions creating uncertainties, limitations and inconveniences, we have managed to provide a full program of activities. We have explored thoroughly all our old favourites – Mt Buffalo, Mt Stanley, the Warby Ovens National Park, Chiltern, Myrtleford, Beechworth and Bright, and re-acquainted ourselves with less familiar territory such as Mt Barambogie and Mt Jack.

Thanks to Michael and Jeanette, a small group went further afield for a weekend at Lake Eildon to break new ground. Some of us also had an enjoyable weekend roughing it at Camp Crusty, to take in the lovely walks along Morses Creek, the Ovens River and up to Apex lookout.

Another weekend in October provided the opportunity to walk the Warby Range from North to South -the 40km traverse accomplished by two club members, Jeanette and Sonia. Andy did a sterling job organising the walks for this weekend, in recognition of the Club’s 40th birthday, and the Greenlisting of the Warby Ovens National Park by the International Union of

Conservation of Nature (one of four in Australia). Given the long and close association of our club with the WONP, we are grateful to Andy for representing us on the Working Group that achieved this, and we look forward to contributing to new signage in recognition of past club members, Peter and Helen Curtis, and their work on the fungal disease affecting the Grass Trees.

We finally enjoyed our long-awaited week-away at Mornington Peninsula, and greatly appreciate the efforts of the Planning Committee that made this possible. Thanks to Rob Chard for an excellent program of walks for all abilities to showcase this area; thanks Cheryl for coordinating the Planning and Accommodation arrangements, Marita for the Comms, and Erin and Anne for their menu planning and ensuring we all put on kilos for our efforts! It was a great week!

Some of our members are becoming more adventurous and tackling overnight walks. I look forward to joining these intrepid walkers as I am working on my own fitness levels to tap into my ‘wild side’.

A shout-out to those who have joined the ranks of our sub-group “The Hippies”, who have undertaken their own journey of Hip replacements; it is great to see Karen and Rod Davis hitting their stride once again. We hope Bob is soon able to regain his old form; and best wishes to Adrian as he undergoes induction into this esteemed group.

We are all indebted to the commitment of our volunteer leaders who make such a program possible. It’s not a big group of walks leaders we have, and we appreciate you all very much. Particularly Jeanette, as Walks Coordinator for all you do putting on the program and, together with Michael, for the support you give our leaders.

You will no doubt be aware we are hosting the Bushwalking Victoria’s Federation Walks in Wangaratta in October this year.

This could see 500 hikers from clubs around Victoria come for a weekend of walking our backyard. A small committee drawn from four neighbouring groups is organising this event. We will be looking for many walks’ leaders to support this activity, and Bushwalking Victoria are offering two local Leadership Training events. This will be a great opportunity to upskill new walks leaders and offer a refresher for existing leaders. I encourage you to take this opportunity, to keep our club active and strong into the future.

I also want to specially thank Chris McLaughlin for all his work as Webmaster. Our website is our public face -and you make sure it is full of interesting news, useful information and great photos. In addition, Chris has been tirelessly digitalising and archiving our club history and records- an enormous job. Chris leads many walks and is contributing essential support to planning for the Federation Walks weekend. We look forward to the upcoming transformation of our website onto a newer, more user-friendly platform, – Chris, you have well-earned your travels planned for later this year and we wish you and Yvonne many happy and safe adventures in the outback.

My thanks to Andy for also keeping our group visible in our local community through his regular articles in the Wangaratta Chronicle highlighting our antics, which I am sure contributes to the steady flow of new members.

I also want to recognise the critical support I receive from all the committee members, particularly our Treasurer, John Walker and Secretary, Peter Brain. You keep the club on a solid footing, for which we are very grateful. By sharing the load, everyone makes the job lighter.

Lastly, thank you -our club members: for your cheerfulness, forbearance through COVID disruptions and optimism for the next great walk on the program. Your feedback on the survey last year is shaping our planning for the walks ahead -you will find us breaking big groups into smaller walking pods, limiting meeting points and asking your cooperation to arrive for registration 15 minutes early so we get away in good time. We plan to run Introduction evenings for newer members, to answer questions about preparation, walking track grading systems and responsibilities of leaders and group members. This will be a social occasion, and opportunity to meet committee members as well as understand what makes this a special group to belong to, if you are looking for fun, friendship and fitness. Stay tuned – more information in the next Newsletter.

That’s it from me. Enjoy your evening and thank you everyone for your support.

Cecily Fletcher, President 2021-2022

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