The Pandani 30th Birthday BBQ – Feed them and they will come!

From Christine Wilson:

An enormous amount of work went into the organisation of the Pandani Birthday BBQ at Site 9 at the Waterworks on the rather damp Saturday of October 15.  The date did not commemorate the actual founding of the club, which took place in April 1991 with incorporation in 1992, but was chosen earlier this year to celebrate an important event with sufficient lead time to organise it well.

The Club has been going for 30 years, quite a feat for a small organisation dependent on volunteers. We have a membership base of around 400 people. Most weeks the Club runs 4 walks and often 5. It is the second largest Club in the state. 

Four organisers ran walks in the vicinity, none of which overlapped, so that members could enjoy an amble in the area before the BBQ. The walks catered for a total of 85 people while total attendance was around 90. I visited the base of the Ridgeway Reservoir, followed by Sixpence Cave on Geoff Buckman’s walk. The wall of the reservoir, which Geoff told us was over a century old, was seeping water in a rather alarming way, but extensive work appears to be taking place to remediate it.

Once at Site 9, the biggest site and one of only two protected from the weather, it was apparent that members of the Anniversary BBQ Committee had been busy since the site opened at 9 am. The hut was bedecked with tree fern fronds, the tables had been set up, there were photos and information about the Club founders and four life members. The two surviving ones, Rosie Bruce and yours truly, were in attendance, recyclable glass in hand. Anniversary Committee MC Sarah Atkinson called for a show of hands to indicate length of membership and the two longest serving members present, Rosie and Peter Murphy, had joined in the 1990s. Liz Thomas, our membership officer, offered Pandani merchandise. 

Club committee members John Vanderniet and Frank van Ravels manned the BBQs, and there was an array of salads. However, the most spectacular offerings were the COVID-safe cupcakes prepared in club colours and featuring the club logo. The occasion was a good time to officially launch an updated version of the logo, largely the same design as the original one but with slightly different colours and tones, created by club member Sarajayne Lada. 

I felt that the BBQ was a celebration of the Pandani Community, the friendships formed and the efforts of many individuals involved the club: the president and committee members, the walk organisers, the members themselves who support the organisers and committee by simply turning up and enjoying themselves. It was apparent that there were people present who had been members for many years, but it was really pleasing to see how many attendees were new to Pandani. A fantastic catch up and a great event. Thanks to all involved, especially the organising subcommittee of Liz Verrall, Sarah Atkinson, Viv Evans and Helen Cooley. We had a lovely time. 

Vale Keith Hewlett

Keith Hewlett was a life member of the club and sadly passed away on 23 July.  Those who knew Keith may wish to join the celebration of his life: 2:00 pm, Fri 5 August, Clarence Lifestyle Village.

Below is the tribute to him from “Twenty Years Down the Track” which was published in 2012 for the club’s 20th anniversary.  Others may wish to add their own tributes or anecdotes in the comments.

In January 2011 Keith was awarded life membership of the Pandani Bushwalking Club.  He either led or co-led 333 walks, a true club stalwart. Along the way he has given us great enjoyment and shared experiences discovering so many of our beautiful walks.

For many years Thursdays were “Keith’s days” inspiring a loyal band of walkers. His welcoming attitude encourages new and sometimes rather daunted walkers. His keen sense of humour is appreciated – a snake crossing our path has its length increased five-fold by the time we return to the cars! Always thoughtful, Keith provided cooled bottled water from his car to thirsty walkers after a walk when high temperatures were forecast. Keith also always has goat’s milk soap in his car boot, available to walkers who wish to purchase it! 

Keith’s female walkers always carry Bandaids and attend to his scrapes, providing valuable first aid practice. Once he even encouraged one of his walkers to bake a morning tea muffin – so long as it wasn’t chocolate. He likes his bananas very ripe (they contain more potassium) and he never sits down for elevenses (ready to get going again).

These days Keith no longer has the sole responsibility of leadership on Thursdays, but we are always delighted when he is able to join the group and have his yellow hat bobbing along amongst us. His encouragement to new leaders has been welcomed. He is always willing to share his knowledge when asked, whether it’s historical, geographical – or just gossip! We ‘new’ leaders have had the benefit of his many years of experience and so have been groomed, without knowing it.

With a deep love of the bush and bushwalking and a genuine interest in and enjoyment of his fellow walkers, Keith appreciates the companionship that walking provides. He has often said that of all the places he goes, he enjoys walking on Mt Wellington the most. We hope he will continue to walk on his beloved mountain for many more years. Thank you, Keith, for all you have taught us along the way.