Vale Bill Bewsher

Bill Bewsher passed away last weekend in Tasmania.  BSAR extends its condolences to Bill’s family and friends.

Bill was a leading figure within BSAR’s history and had a tremendous influence on the course of search and rescue for two decades.  He was appointed inaugural Convenor and held this position from 1949 to 1956 and again for a year in 1958-1959.  Bill also became the first Field Organiser in 1950 and, excepting a fifteen-month tour of duty in Antarctica, held that position until 1970.  After retiring from that position, Bill contributed as a Police Liaison Officer until the mid-1980s thereby concluding a 35-year involvement in land-based search and rescue.

One of the biggest searches coordinated by Bill was that for Mihram Haig at Mt Baw Baw in June 1955.  The terrain was steep and dense and communications were difficult.  An amazing 205 BSAR members attended during the search, the largest number on any search to date.

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Vale Snow Girl

The Donna Buang search of 1953 was one of the pivotal searches in the history of Bush Search and Rescue Victoria. Bill Bewsher performed the role of Field Organiser at a time when the Victoria Police did not yet have a search and rescue squad.  BSAR personnel conducted the structured searching and recovered the two missing people, stretchering them both to the road. (Source The Scroggin Eaters).

One of the survivors, Jennifer Laycock, lost her legs to frostbite and the media labelled her the “Snow Girl” as they followed her recovery.

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Neville Byrne

Neville Byrne is a rural Police Liaison Officer with Bush Search and Rescue who who lives in Tawonga, at the base of Mt Bogong.  Neville has been active with Bush Search and Rescue for 40 years as a searcher and Field Organiser.

Neville says searching is not about heroics.  “It’s just a hard slog, often in the rain and cold. You’re just doing a job not everyone can do.”

Duncan Brookes

The BTL editor put some questions to Duncan Brookes, Field Organiser with Bush Search and Rescue.

What was your introduction to bushwalking?
I grew up in an environment of bushwalkers as both my parents were keen bushwalkers.  I can recall going on VMTC family base camps from a very young age.  My first VMTC day walk was when I was about 8yo, up Mt Riddell.
How did you get involved in BSAR?
My father Stuart was a founding member of “The Search and Rescue Section”, as it was then called, and he was an FO.  As a youngster I recall him going off to practice weekends and searches so I always knew of “search and rescue”.  I joined when I was 18 in 1972.  My first search was in 1974 at Stevensons Falls.  Stuart was my group leader.  Peter Dunbar the FO presumably thought that was a good idea at the time.

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Bill Brand, Victoria Police

Bill Brand in uniform
Bill Brand

Bill Brand was a foundation member of the Police Search and Rescue Squad, which was set up in the late 1950s as the specialist group to provide both searching expertise and search management.

Bill led the Police Search and Rescue Squad for many years and through his efforts this branch of Victoria Police built strong ties with the bushwalking fraternity and in particular with Bush Search and Rescue.

Through many searches and BSAR practices, Bill was highly regarded and popular with our members. Bill retired as Inspector in Charge of Search and Rescue in 1987.

Source: Behind The Log, October 2009

Bill Brand passed away on Monday 17th of September 2018.

John Chapman

John Chapman is an active searcher with BSAR.
John has produced bushwalking guidebooks and track notes over many years that have increased awareness of the quality and abundance of  bushwalking opportunities in Victoria and made bushwalking accessible to a wide audience.
He has also regularly written gear surveys which help create a greater understanding of bushwalking and the equipment necessary to enjoy the activity safely.  John is a member of Maroondah Bushwalking Club.
Source: Behind The Log, October 2009

Monica Chapman

Monica Chapman is currently a Field Organiser with Bush Search and Rescue, and is also managing the Bushwalking Victoria individual members who are active with BSAR.

Monica was Convenor for 11 years from 1998 to 2009.  During this period she played a key role in increasing the standards of how BSAR operates on many important searches.  Monica has had an active involvement in producing the new BSAR manual, changing the organisation’s name, logo and website, organising important events, arranging funding and allocating expenditure on the many items of new equipment, including all our stocks of radios and GPS units.
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Peter Campbell

Peter Campbell, Mt FeathertopPeter Campbell joined BSAR in 1980 as a member of the Latrobe Mountaineering Club and he has participated in numerous searches and training weekends since. He served on the BSAR committee as LMC club delegate for 15 years and as a Field Organiser since 1993.  With the demise of LMC, he was one of our first individual members through Bushwalking Victoria.

Frank Zgoznik

Frank joined BSAR via MUMC while studying in 1987.   Frank became a Field Organiser in 1999.

One of his most challenging searches as a Field Organiser was for a missing paraglider around Tawonga Gap in 2001.  Frank and his assisting Field Organisers on the search (Monica Chapman, Rik Head and Bruce Vine) were responsible for coordinating 63 Bush Search and Rescue searchers over three days. Frank also coordinated over 100 Australian Army soldiers who participated in the search.

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