Founded in 1944 the Melbourne University Mountaineering Club was one of the first outdoor adventure clubs in Australia. Particularly in the early decades MUMC members were pioneers many areas of adventure recreation in Australia. Bushwalkers mapped unexplored areas, rock climbers discovered new climbing areas and put up new routes, and thousands of students were introduced to new outdoor adventures.
While much has changed, just as much has stayed the same in the club's history. The club has long been a place where students and alumni have come together for adventure and fun times in a welcoming community.
Compiled from old notes, minutes and records in our archives, this timeline of notable events serves only as an overview of the Club's history.
Timeline of Events
The following are just a few events from various years that have been noted as being significant to the club in some way. We welcome additions, corrections or suggestions to this list.
1944: Foundation of the Melbourne University Mountaineering Club in early October at a meeting convened by Niall Brennan. Club members regularly undertake Bushwalking and then Rockclimbing followed by Ski-Touring six years later. First edition of the Club periodical The Circular is published. Later, the name would change to The Mountaineer (developed by Fred Mitchell) to have stronger affiliation with MUMC.
1946: The Club Badge—now known as The OXO Man—is created by Niall Brennan, accompanied by the heraldic description "On a field azure, a mountaineer sable, salient." The design was taken from a drawing used to advertise MUMC's Orientation Week Equipment Display room.
1947: First 24 hour walk.
1949–1950: The Club's first Membership List is recorded with approximately 100 members.
1950: Ski-Touring begins at the Club. Map collection begins.
1955: Disappearance of the "Three Johns": John Young, John Vidulich and John Hammond, while climbing Mt. Cook, New Zealand, experienced mountaineers all. Young and Vidulich were members of MUMC. (The Three Johns Hut in New Zealand is erected in their memory between 1956 and 1977.)
1956: MUMC joins the Sports Union after being affiliated with the Students Representatives Council.
1959: MUMC Memberships exceed 300 members.
1961: Committee meetings are held in various locations around the University such as the Union House and the Cricket Pavilion. First Edition of Equipment For Mountaineering is published under the editorship of Fred Mitchell and Roger Riordan: over the years it is republished numerous times. A basement at 21 Royal Parade is acquired for storing Club equipment. (Previously, MUMC relied on its members to provide storage space.)
1962–1977: Aikman's Road Basement is used for storing Club equipment. Over the following years, additional basement space in the vicinity is acquired with additional assistance from the Department of Criminology.
1965–1966: Mt. Feathertop Hut construction begins during the summer. Funds are raised through donations, raffles and functions. Final cost of the hut is £2,480. Establishment of the Mt. Feathertop Hut enables the Empress Track to be cleared around July 1965: Empress Track is named after Empress Hut, where Hatt and Judge last stayed before their deaths. The upper section of the Empress Track later becomes known as the Tom Kneen Track and the lower half becomes North West Spur track; however, the latter appellation is commonly applied to the entire route to the MUMC Hut.
1966: Car accident on Mt. Hotham in which three Club members lose their lives: Margaret Unkles, Don Lam, and Cathy Escott and two others are injured. They were heading to MUMC Hut during its construction when their 4WD ran off the road and overturned.
1967: Hut Subcommittee disbands.
1970: MUMC publishes Guide to the Victorian Alps.
1971: Equipment For Mountaineering expands to include Ski Touring, Snow and Ice climbing, and equipment importing.
1972: The Club's Membership Card design is proposed; a block (stamp?) is created and the first cards are made.
1972: A book about the Club's history is written by David Hogg and distributed to select institutions, including the State and Baillieu Libraries.
1976: In April, Rogaining is created by Rod Phillips, Gail Davis neé Phillips and Neil Phillips. Rogaining is derived from numerous activities, notably the MUMC 24-hour Walk and orienteering which originated in Norway. In August, the Victorian Rogaining Association is founded.
1977: The Club turns full circle, moving into the Old Meteorology Workshop in Tin Alley between the Sports Centre and St Mary's College. (Club gear storage was originally in a cupboard in the Meteorology building). This is now known as the Clubrooms. There was discussion about maintaining the title of the original clubrooms—Aikman's Rd—but was considered to be too confusing.
Three Johns Hut is blown away by gale force winds, coming to rest 300 feet (approx. 100m) down the Dobson Valley side of Barron Saddle.
1980: On 30 March, Nicholas Reeves and Richard Schmidt die in an avalanche on Annapurna III. The first avalanche impacted on their campsite; all survive and use their remaining tent. A second avalanche impacts on the campsite, burying the climbers.
1985: Death of Tom Kneen, cousin of Peter Kneen in an avalanche on Mt. Feathertop. Tom Kneen was also involved in the construction of the hut, taking charge of the triangular windows and upstairs floor amongst general tasks, and, as a very experienced bushwalker and ski tourer, had exceptional knowledge of Mt. Feathertop.
1987: Last 24 hour walk.
2003: In January, extraordinary bushfires ravage much of New South Wales' and Victoria's bushland causing vast devastation. Many huts are destroyed, including Little MUMC Hut (the toilet). MUMC Hut itself survives.
2004: 60th Anniversary Dinner and acquisition of unreasonably large 60th Anniversary T-shirts which cannot be sold, becoming free souvenirs. The MUMC Website Redevelopment Project begins in secret in June.
2005: The MUMC Website Redevelopment Project becomes official.
2006: More bushfires spread across Victoria during November and December, causing havoc and structural damage. Snow on Christmas Day gives firefighters scant relief before the inferno resumes. MUMC Hut again survives despite embers landing on the North West Spur.
The new website go online February 26.
2007: On June 11, a new design for the website(s) is created. Little MUMC Hut is restored on North West Spur, near the MUMC Hut.
2009: 65th Anniversary of the club. A dinner is held to mark the occasion.
2010: The death of club member Eng Wu Ong in a climbing accident on Mt Aspiring near Wanaka, New Zealand, 15th December 2010. Known as "Egg" to his close friends and family, Eng Wu was a international student from Singapore who was well known for his passion for the outdoors.
2011: A new back end for the website built by Andy Green, while maintaining the styling and design from past club member Steve Chan. The new website making a jump to electronic membership and trip sign ups.
2013: The club publishes a new climbing guidebook putting an almost forgotten crag near melbourne back in the limelight.
2016: The club implements a new website to fully move to a paperless trip organisation system.
Passing of Club Members
The club remembers the following people who died while pursuing adventures in the outdoors. It is not known if this is a complete list or if all the details listed here are correct. We encourage current or past club members to email the club with any corrections or additions.
- 1955: John Young, John Vidulich and John Hammond (who was not an OXO). Disappeared while climbing Mt. Cook, New Zealand. The Three Johns Hut in New Zealand was erected in their memory.
- 1965: Douglas Hatt and Russell Judge. Died while attempting a traverse of Mt. Cook, New Zealand, in January. The Mt. Feathertop Hut was built in their memory—thus becoming the Mt. Feathertop Memorial Hut—as Feathertop was Hatt's favourite mountain.
- 1966: Margaret Unkles, Don Lam, and Cathy Escott. Died in a car accident on Mt. Hotham. They were on their way to the hut during its construction when their 4WD ran off the road and overturned.
- 1976: Mark Spain and Andrew Kelso. Died in January 1976 and it is believed that they fell while descending from Mt Silberhorn, New Zealand.
- 1980: Nicholas Reeves and Richard Schmidt. Died in a avalanche on Annapurna III on 30th March. The first avalanche impacted on their campsite; all survive and use their remaining tent. A second avalanche impacts on the campsite, burying the climbers.
- 1983: Steven Galland. Died on Mt Feathertop.
- 1984: Craig Nottle. Died on Mt Everest, Nepal.
- 1985: Tom Kneen. Died in an avalanche on Mt. Feathertop. Cousin of Peter Kneen, Kneen was a very experienced bushwalker and ski tourer and had exceptional knowledge of Mt. Feathertop.
- 2010: Eng Wu Ong. Died in a climbing accident on Mt Aspiring near Wanaka, New Zealand, 15th December 2010.
- 2015: Dale Thistlethwaite and Stuart Hollaway. Died in a fall on Mt Silberhorn, coincidentally the same peak Mark Spain and Andrew Kelso were climbing, in Mount Cook National Park, New Zealand 29th December 2015.