The Melbourne Walking Club has a very long and colourful history. It played a significant role in the early development of bushwalking in Victoria.
It was founded in 1894 by Arthur Barrett (A.O. Barrett) as the Melbourne Amateur Walking and Touring Club (MAWTC) and is one of the oldest walking clubs in Australia. In the early years the Club program included race walking events, popular at the time, as well as recreational walking activities. At that time members of the Club regularly went on extended walks and camping trips to the most remote parts of Victoria. In recent years the Club has donated a collection of historical material, including maps and photographs, to the State Library of Victoria and to the Royal Historical Society.
Originally, the Club was only open to male membership, but since 2015 membership is open to men and women aged over 18 years. At present the membership stands at around 275 members.
In 1928 the Club commenced publishing an annual magazine, "The Melbourne Walker", which was published continuously for 62 years and was widely acclaimed.
In 1930, a club hut was built in the mountains around Warburton and used by club members for skiing and walking excursions. The original was destroyed in the 1939 Black Friday bushfires and rebuilt in 1941.
In 1949 a Ski Lodge was built at Mt Buller. This first Ski Lodge was replaced by a new one in 1990. For details see Mt Buller Lodge.
In 1934 the Melbourne Walking Club co-founded the Federation of Victorian Walking Clubs, now known as Bushwalking Victoria. Today there are over 70 walking clubs affiliated with this organization.
The Club’s Centenary in 1994 was marked by many events including the publication of a book entitled "Footsteps from the Past, 1894 to 1994." A further commemoration was held on the 120th anniversary of the Club in 2014 including a walk to retrace the route of the first official Club walk in 1894 which started in St Kilda and followed a path to Brighton.