BSAR is 70 years old on 6th May 2019.
We don’t know the names or the clubs of the 11 volunteer bushwalkers who left the Russell Street Police Headquarters in 2 trucks early on Friday 6 May 1949 for Port Welshpool. There they boarded a fishing ketch and were landed on the east coast of Wilsons Promontory to join the large search for a missing bushwalker.
This was the first occasion volunteer bushwalkers organised through the Federation of Victorian Walking Clubs (now Bushwalking Victoria) assisted in a bush search.
Senior Police were very impressed with the skill and independence of these bushwalkers and encouraged the Federation to establish a formal search and rescue group.
Six bushwalking clubs – MBC, MAWTC, MUMC, VMTC, WCV, YHA – made this a reality soon after this search when they formed the Federation of Victorian Walking Clubs Search and Rescue Section. Five of these clubs still provide members to BSAR.
The newspapers of the time tell the story.
The search for Alfred Howie, a solo walker missing at Wilsons Promontory, commenced on 6 May 1949. No trace of him was ever found.
In the early years, members were called out in response to a request for assistance from Victoria Police by a club-based telephone tree. Searchers assembled at the Russell Street Police Headquarters in a basement hall.
The Police Search and Rescue Squad was formed in 1957.