Chapter 2 - History

Bushwalking Victoria (previously known as The Federation of Victorian Walking Clubs or VicWalk), is a grouping of more than sixty clubs and individual members.  Bushwalking Victoria promotes safe and enjoyable bushwalking, conservation of the bush and represents bushwalking to the public and to government. As well as bushwalking, the activities of member clubs include ski touring, rock climbing, orienteering, mountaineering, canoeing, bicycling, rafting and rogaining.

Bushwalking Victoria has maintained a Search and Rescue Section since 1949. The Section was formed to assist Police during searches for people lost in remote or difficult terrain. This occurred after a number of individual members of bushwalking Clubs served as volunteers during an unsuccessful search for a solo walker lost at Wilsons Promontory. Senior Police were very impressed with the skill and independence of these walkers and encouraged the Federation to establish a formal search and rescue group. Several clubs made this a reality.

In the early 1990s the Section changed its name to Bushwalkers Search and Rescue. Further information on the history of the Section (and the Federation generally) is contained in “The Scroggin Eaters” by Graeme Wheeler.

The current name, Bush Search and Rescue Victoria, was formally adopted in 2010.

Bush Search and Rescue Victoria is probably the largest organised pool of bushcraft and mountain skills in Victoria. These skills, together with an appropriate organisational structure and regular search practices, form the basis for an emergency group which has quietly served the Victorian public for many decades.

The organisation is totally voluntary and involves around 300 people. It is noteworthy that the Bush Search and Rescue Victoria considerably pre-dates the Police Search and Rescue Squad.

Since its inception in 1949, the Bush Search and Rescue Victoria has provided advice to Bushwalking Victoria clubs, the Bushwalking Victoria Board, government, schools and other organisations.

John Retchford with the then Minister for Sport, Recreation & Racing, Hon. Tom Reynolds, at the launch of the 1st edition of the manual, 8th May 1993

John Retchford with the then Minister for Sport, Recreation & Racing, Hon. Tom Reynolds, at the launch of the 1st edition of the manual, 8th May 1993

Updated 13 Feb 2011