It is with deep sadness that the Batemans Bay Bushwalkers Club farewells Valerie Harris who passed away on Sunday, May 24, aged 88.
Valerie was a unique member of Batemans Bay Bushwalkers, the only member to have walked with the club throughout its entire 35 year history.
"She was there in 1985 at the first meeting held to garner expressions of interest for a bushwalking group in the Batemans Bay area, when she volunteered to lead two of the first four walks arranged at that meeting," a spokesperson for the club said.
Valerie's last walk was in March this year at Maloney's Beach just before the COVID-19 pause. She was a prolific and passionate walk leader.
"Valerie was renowned for her hard, and mostly exploratory excursions into the remote wilderness. She loved every moment of those walks, and she loved showing them to her faithful followers. And members just kept turning up for more - for the chance to experience more challenges, and more adventures to hidden bush treasures in the company of this vibrant, capable woman."
Over the last 10 years, Valerie has been sharing her walks with other leaders, so that members can still enjoy the backcountry walks she so loved.
To name a few, the club have mapped her walk into the Strangler Fig on Durras Mountain; the Durras Mountain old farm track walk; her Carters Creek and Sugarloaf Creek walks; and her Bimberamala Mine and Black Diamond Currowan Mine walks.
Every time a new map is created from one of Val's walks, members marvel how she navigated the bush so well without a GPS to create such challenging and interesting routes. She has left us with an enduring legacy to enjoy for generations to come.
Valerie led many a backpack through the Budawangs before retiring her pack in 2015. Her last packwalk was into the Ettrema Gorge in Morton National Park west of Nowra. This is not a walk for the fainthearted, mostly trackless in steep rocky country, with a lot of creek wading - Valerie was 83 at the time.
Valerie will long be remembered, admired and appreciated by those who travelled with her to the wild and beautiful places. For more stories and photos of Valerie, the club has a Tribute wall on their website - www.baybushwalkers.org.au