Here are a couple of views of the early history of AOA. The first written in 1984 by Joe Coletti, the Club's first President and Life Member and the second by Deanne Ketting.
In the Beginning
I'm often asked, "How did Action Outdoors start?" In mid 1983, Fred Fuchs, a Canadian friend and myself would go on occasional bushwalks. We expanded our past-time to include colleagues at the Queen Elizabeth Medical Centre where we both worked. After several months, we had led many successful jaunts but these were only as frequent as we could muster numbers.
After some merriment at a Friday evening 'happy hour' on the premises of the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital Social Club, I suggested we start an outdoor group by placing an article in the monthly Hospital News of SCGH. This was heartily endorsed, but unlike most suggestions which are promptly forgotten, be it in times of merriment or not, an article did appear in the November issue much to the surprise of Fred and friends.
One of the respondents was Deanne Ketting who later helped form the steering committee. Also present at this stage was Pauline Elliot and later I enlisted the help of my friend of yore, Richard Allen. However Fred, though a willing trip leader, shunned organising and, being a free agent, tired of Australia and pined for the snowy woods of British Columbia. I last saw him in mid January 1984.
Though initial response to Hospital News was good it later proved superficial. I then expanded the publicity to bulletins of other hospitals and later suburban papers, the Subiaco Post and the Stirling Times. Both these papers were instrumental in our extension into the general community.
The first few months were trying indeed. Due to groups being small, one had to constantly ring around to muster viable numbers. One also had to contend with people piking out at the last minute and many instances of people, including trip drivers, not turning up.
By April 1984 the group was gradually increasing, enabling trips to be well attended and Richard Allen accepted my offer to become Treasurer. In the first half of 1984 we were organising trips roughly every fortnight and called ourselves the Queen Elizabeth Medical Centre Outdoor Group. The name being a little unwieldy it was shortened to QEMCOG (pronounced "kwemcog"). But this proved unsatisfactory, so in June 1984 we changed the name to Action Outdoors. By this time we had recruited Joe Tonga to our self appointed steering committee. Also in June we prepared our constitution for incorporation which was soon proclaimed and we became an affiliated group to the Conservation Council of WA. Furthermore, we commenced financial memberships and produced our second excursion schedule, which was for winter, and we were now averaging at least one trip a weekend.
By the September Annual General Meeting we had over sixty members, had produced a Spring Schedule with two to five trips a weekend and expanded the committee to seven. Now the quarterly excursion schedule has been turned into a magazine and a monthly newsletter has been launched with editors, Dvona Henson and Christina Soderberg.
Our membership is now over 100 and clearly it is becoming difficult for the committee of seven to organise activities, administer membership and still try to push Action Outdoors.
We are now forming several separate groups to cover general activities, film and video production, magazine and newsletter, practical conservation, Presidential and Committee assistants, publicity and a cultural/social group.
I urge every member to volunteer for one of the groups and help propel Action Outdoors at full speed.
By Joseph Coletti PRESIDENT
AOA's Early Years
October 1983 - Joe Colletti & Fred Fuchs placed a notice up on the Queen Elizabeth Medical Centre notice board asking if anyone was interested in a weekend bushwalk. Deanne Ketting and Pauline Elliott, a personal friend of Joe's, took up the challenge.
Joe & Fred had previously been members of bushwalking clubs and were quite fit. Deanne & Pauline had never bushwalked before let alone a weekend walk with 20kg backpacks (a bit of education and experience can more than half this weight).
Amongst discussions entered into that weekend were the lack of clubs in Perth that offered more than just bushwalking and soon after QEMCOG ( Queen Elizabeth Medical Centre Outdoor Group) was born. It was even contemplated that we have a "QEMCOG " cartoon animal as a logo. Fred unfortunately returned to Canada in January 1994, but he was replaced in enthusiasm for the club by Dominic Pignatello.
With five core members, more adverts turned into short schedules appearing on the notice board with a variety of trips being offered. In April 1984, an advertisement appeared in the Subiaco Post Newspaper, for a picnic at Shenton Park lake. This was a real success with the membership being boosted dramatically. This also boosted the amount and variety of trips being offered.
It was soon discovered that many people assumed that if they were not connected with QE11MC, that they could not join, so the name was changed to Action Outdoors Association. A competition was started to find a logo to fit the image of the club, and Joe Tongo gave the club its logo which it still used today.
Abseiling was run almost every fortnight. An Abseilathon for Telethon was a great success with Channel 7 running an item on their nightly news. Other activities included sailing courses, gliding, and parachuting to name a few.
By Deanne Ketting
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