THE 50th anniversary commemorative weekend for the Scott-Kilvert tragedy began with a commemoration assembly at Riverside High School on Friday. MANIKA DADSON reports.
THE words of David Kilvert’s mother still ring clear to many Riverside High School family and friends.
The words are ones Mrs Kilvert said at the school soon after her 14-year-old son and his student teachers, Ewen Scott, perished in a blizzard on Cradle Mountain.
‘‘You must let your children adventure for themselves,’’ Mrs Kilvert said.
‘‘If you overprotect them you will spoil their lives.’’
Mrs Kilvert spoke those words 50 years ago, but Rosemary Goodsall, nee Bayes, has never forgotten them.
Mrs Goodsall was one of three teachers, the other being John Chick, who joined 16 high school students on a five-day Cradle Mountain bushwalking adventure in May, 1965.
It was an experience all involved – including David, a keen adventurer, and Mr Scott, 26, an avid bushwalker – were looking forward to, but ended in tragedy when the weather turned nasty.
Hundreds of families, friends, past and present students, including Mrs Goodsall and walk survivors, visited the school on Friday to pay their respects at a 50-year Scott-Kilvert commemoration assembly.
Mrs Goodsall, who now lives in Cairns, said it had been 49 years, two months and three weeks since she had been at the school.
In a speech she recalled the extremely steep climb the group endured after setting off from the Arm River car park, the first camp fire the group shared at Pelion Hut and near the end of the journey remembers praying for the remainder of her group to catch up.
‘‘[And] praying that I had actually done the right thing,’’ she said shedding a tear.
‘‘[I remember] the parents who turned up with warm clothes, more food and comforting words and the quietness of the bus trip back to Riverside.
‘‘The next afternoon there was a meeting at the school, which walking into was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.’’
Mrs Goodsall thanked Mrs Kilvert for the words she had left with the community and said she had tried to emulate that with her own children.
‘‘Riverside High School saw the beginning and the end of my official high school teaching career and what a privileged it is to be able to say that,’’ she said.
Mrs Goodsall has only been back to the mountain twice since 1965 – the first being at the opening of the Scott-Kilvert Memorial Hut, the second on the 25th anniversary.
She returned this weekend with a large group to commemorate the 50th year.
The group walked into the hut on Saturday, with some returning home and others staying overnight.
A commemorative ceremony at Dove Lake car park at 2pm today will end the weekend commemorations.
Walk survivor Mark Whittle said the walk was a fitting tribute for the 50th anniversary.
He used Friday’s assembly to thank those on the original walk, including Mr Chick, Helena Anderson, the three boys who helped David before Mr Scott took over by carrying him on his shoulders.
‘‘David Rowbottom, who showed his deep concern for others and offered to stay behind to help the three girls who were absolutely exhausted,’’ Mr Whittle said.
‘‘Miss Bayes was amazing at encouraging Helena to spend the night in the boatshed to survive and by keeping their spirits up.
‘‘The three students who set off to get help, who were Diana Batten, Peter Williams and Bernard Hay.
‘‘[And] Ewen Scott, who showed utmost unselfishness and superhuman effort in carrying David Kilvert and in attempting to get help reached the end of his physical endurance.’’
Mr Whittle said out of tragedy and sadness often emerged positives, including the building of the hut and the Riverside High School Scott-Kilvert Memorial Award.
Past award winners attended the assembly, with four giving speeches about how it felt to receive the award.
Former head prefect Claire Farrell played an original piano composition inspired by the 1965 walk and grade 10 student Thomas Godfrey spoke of his art work that was on show at the assembly.
- Reporter MANIKA DADSON and photographer MARK JESSER have joined the group on the 50th commemoration walk to the Scott-Kilvert Hut. A feature on the walk will run in next weekend’s edition of The Sunday Examiner.