Food drop bag – into wild places they roamed

No. 69

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Until roads were built into south-west Tasmania, many of the state’s more remote walking destinations required expeditions of several weeks to reach. Accessing extra supplies was one way in which walkers could extend their stays and allow more detailed exploration; this involved pilots flying to designated locations and pushing packages of food – such as this one used by Jim Brown, a life member of the Hobart Walking Club – through camera hatches from a height.

The first large air-drop occurred in 1948, to assist the party (including Jim Brown and his future wife, Una Williams) attempting to climb the remote and technically difficult Federation Peak – which was, and still is, a magnet for serious bushwalkers nationwide. For this attempt, about 90 kg of food was dropped and although the party had hoped to recover 60% of it, they recovered all but one can (which split on impact).

In 1959, Jim Brown wrote an article for The Tasmanian Tramp (#14) on the manner in which to organise food drops. He used the Aero Club of Southern Tasmania to organise well-planned food drops, and advised that brightly painted sugar bags be employed. He recommended each bag be stencilled with the party’s name, dropping place, year and the number of each bag. Goods packed in the bags were cushioned with straw.

The Hobart Walking Club, Tasmania’s first, was founded in 1929 by E.T. Emmett and Jack Thwaites to increase opportunities for walking in the island’s wild places. The club heralded the growing popularity of outdoor recreational pursuits, such as bushwalking and skiing, in early twentieth-century Tasmania. This reflected growing prosperity in society and a growing desire to promote wild places for tourism and for protection. The Hobart Walking Club has a long history of active participation in conservation issues, and members have helped to build huts, construct tracks and lobby to preserve remote areas.

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