In 1988 Bill Avery took part in the inaugural bushwalk on the Great North Walk from Sydney to Newcastle. He fell in love with long-distance walking. Prompted by other walkers on this trek he reconnoitred a bushwalking route from Sydney to Melbourne as well as plotting a tentative route from Sydney to Brisbane and Melbourne to Adelaide.
In September 1991 a group of walkers set off from Circular Quay to walk to Yass in the NSW Southern Highlands as the first stage of Federation Track South. The scenery was better than anyone had imagined and the support crew of Colin and Heather Fripp made the camp sites very comfortable.
In November 1992 a route was proof-walked from Yass to Thredbo. This was the walkers’ first experience of alpine walking and the first time many of them had to back-pack. It was a very late spring that year and it rained, sleeted, hailed and snowed. The walkers had a wonderful time and the support crew were magnificent.
To avoid as much bad weather as possible, the bushwalkers waited until February 1994 to walk the next stage from Thredbo to Mt Hotham. This was a classic trek and the yellow Alpine Track markers became very familiar.
The last stage from Mt Hotham to Melbourne was walked in March 1995. The first section of this stage was the toughest attempted, but the scenery along the Barry Range and the Cross-Cut Saw was spectacular. Walking to the Royal Exhibition Building to complete the 1,486 kilometre odyssey was a very emotional moment for Bill Avery and Helen Harvey who walked the entire length. Several other walkers completed over 1,000 kilometres.
Between 1996 and 1998 Bill led several walking parties along the Federation Track North route from Newcastle to the Carrai Plateau west of Kempsey but a stint managing the IBM Technology Volunteer program for the Olympic Games, a move to the Blue Mountains and the establishment of a show garden ended the annual walks.
Between 2001 and 2004 Ian Edwards and Garry Brown also completed Federation Track South using Bill Avery’s route. They then went on to trail-blaze Federation Track Capitol from Mt Jagungal to Canberra in 2005.
By 2006, Ian Edwards had run out of walks to conquer so he asked Bill Avery if he still had the original route from Melbourne to Adelaide. He did and in January 2006 they walked the first stage of Federation Track West from Melbourne to Dromana. The following year Bill, Ian and Ian’s wife Chris walked from Dromana to Sorrento and between 2008 and 2010 they all walked from Queenscliff to Nelson on the Glenelg River near the South Australian border.
The scenery along the south-west coast of Victoria was stunning! Magnificent coastal views were interspersed with forays into the wonderful blue gum forests of the Otway Ranges.
Over the following three years they walked from Donovans Landing on the Glenelg River to Parliament House in Adelaide.
Once again, the scenery was a revelation. The coast was totally different from the giant cliffs of Victoria but just as striking while the salt pans and ephemeral lakes of the Coorong are eerily beautiful and the history of this remote area is quite extraordinary. From Goolwa to Victor Harbor the remnants of the river trade abound and the South Mt Lofty Range provided mining relics and wonderful views of Adelaide culminating in a delightful stroll along the Torrens Linear Park into the heart of Adelaide in November 2013.