Formation of the Search & Rescue Group
Bruce Vine had this to say on the 1982 formation of the Birkebeiner NSC Search & Rescue Group.
I recall receiving a telephone call from Mount Beauty Police in August 1981 advising that the Police S&R unit together with the then FVWC S&R section was en-route to Mount Beauty as a report had been received of a body very near the summit of Mount Bogong. Police S&R were concerned that they did not have enough personnel to ascend the Mt Bogong with the intention of bringing the body down and they asked if there were some local outdoor types who may be able to assist.
I rang a number of BNSC members who I thought would be able to cope with the conditions and from memory a group of 6 BNSC members met the Melbourne contingent at Mount Beauty Police station. The snow was well down Eskdale Spur and it was heavy going. On reaching Michelle hut it was decided that a small group of 4 would leave most of their gear at the hut and make a dash for the summit (taking survival gear only), to be followed by the remainder of the group all carrying full packs.
After a few problems in difficult visibility conditions the small group found the body and started chipping it out of the snow. When the large group arrived it was placed in a sled and the slow and difficult task of sliding it down the icy slope without losing control was undertaken. Good progress was made and the decision was taken to not stay overnight in Michelle hut but continue down the mountain in the dark and back to Mount Beauty.
During the debrief some complimentary comments were made about the part played by the BNSC members and the suggestion was made that a S&R group should be formed within the club. A proposal was subsequently put to the Club executive in late 1981 and agreement was reached to explore the possibility. Consideration was given to joining the SES however it was felt that we had more in common with the FVWC S&R group and so an affiliation was arranged and the Group was officially formed at the 1982 AGM and initially had 18 members….as they say the rest is history.
Birkebeiner Search & Rescue Group Callouts
(Jan. 1982 – Aug. 2010)
Analysis of all searches since January 1982:
- 62 S&R Callouts
- 142 missing people
- 130 found alive
- 11 found dead
- 1 not found
- 36 individual members responding, some of them on more than 20 occasions