Shoalhaven Bushwalkers celebrate 80th birthdays at great heights

AIMING HIGH: Albert Forgan and John Kubale enjoy well-earned cake. They also received the Shoalhaven Bushwalkers most prestigious honour - the Over Bloody Eighty badge.

AIMING HIGH: Albert Forgan and John Kubale enjoy well-earned cake. They also received the Shoalhaven Bushwalkers most prestigious honour - the Over Bloody Eighty badge.

The Shoalhaven Bushwalkers had a special celebratory walk to the top of one of the hardest peaks in the Shoalhaven recently. 

The Wednesday, September 13 hike marked the 80th birthdays of two members, Albert Forgan who turned 80 in June and John Kubale who will turn 80 next January.

The destination selected by Albert and John was the top of The Castle in the Budawangs, inland of Ulladulla.

This mountain has become a club tradition for 80th birthdays since club member Gordon Grenenger celebrated his 80th on The Castle summit in 2009.

CHALLENGE: The Shoalhaven Bushwalkers tackled one of the highest peaks in the region recently.

CHALLENGE: The Shoalhaven Bushwalkers tackled one of the highest peaks in the region recently.

The Castle is not the highest mountain in the Shoalhaven at only 836 metres but is probably one of the more technical climbs a confident bushwalker can do.

There are many roped sections, squeezes, rock scrambles plus the eroded track itself which involves negotiating tree roots, log steps, a chain, a creek crossing and an ascent of 730 metres.

Eighteen other club members, ranging in age from 44 to 76, took up the challenge to reach the top within a reasonable time of Albert and John.

This is no easy task considering the fitness and agility of these two octogenarians.

Albert has been walking with the club for eight years and loves the off-track walks as does John who has been with the club for 13 years.

On reaching age 80, members receive the most coveted badge the club awards - the OBE (Over Bloody Eighty) badge.

CONQUER: Albert and John take the mountain in their stride.

CONQUER: Albert and John take the mountain in their stride.

The day itself was very windy and warm which added to the exhilaration of the climb.

Four of the group had never climbed the Castle before. The top was reached by most in about four hours and then it was along to the southern end of the mountain to sign the logbook, crack the champagne and share cake.

After all the celebrations and photos the big task had to be completed – getting back down. 

Easy for Albert and John, not so for others in the strong winds.

A long and satisfying day for all, but the non-octogenarians would like a less arduous location for the next club celebration.

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