Mount Abrupt Walk – 9th April

This activity was aborted early due to unforeseen circumstances. I need to share what transpired with members.

Six of us met at 10.30 am at the Mount Abrupt car park. A new member joined up, and a couple of our committee arrived with four guests to join us for a pleasant walk up the mountain on a cold grey, drizzly day.

After completing our normal pre-activity procedures and a weather discussion we agreed to set off. (If conditions worsened, or became unsafe in anyway, we could cut short and find a hot coffee in Dunkeld)

We had only travelled about 400 metres up the track, we were not on a difficult part of the track, our pace was reasonable and measured. No one was being pushed beyond their abilities. At this point one of our guests collapsed and stopped breathing.

One of our attending members is a doctor and she went into action taking charge of CPR. Another member got straight on his phone and called 000. Our newest member is part of the Dunkeld SES, and he got in touch with his SES captain to organise a stretcher carry out. (We were lucky to have mobile service). In short we were doing everything we could. I can see no way we could have improved our response. Perhaps an EPIRB beacon could have pinpointed us for emergency services a little quicker, but really it turned out to be a moot point. Our guest had suffered a major heart attack.

His wife told us he loved to play golf alone. He was fit for his age and quite active. He was currently filming a new TV series. He took great delight in walking in the natural environment, photographing nature, and spending time in the natural world with like minded people. In short, if it was his time, she was pleased it happened with nice people around him. People who enjoyed the same interests, and did everything they could to save him.

After ambulance staff arrived and ran basic tests of heart function and body temperature, he was pronounced deceased. The required processes for an unexpected death were then followed. This included waiting for police, and undertaker. We called off our walk and abandoned the activity. After the police arrived we aided the SES with the stretcher procedure.

The guest who sadly passed was John Clarke. Comedian, actor and all round good bloke. One of my heroes and some one I respected greatly. He is missed by everyone who met him.

Vale John Clarke

I hope anyone who has been affected by events at the activity has sought help, if not please contact us. I know I struggled with a feeling of responsibility for depriving the world of a beloved comedian. Every news broadcast that mentioned his death was a bit of a knife twist, as I had been organiser and coordinator for the activity. Counselling and peer support has been offered by Parks Victoria.