David Large died on 26 March, 2019 after battling various forms of cancer for several years. He was nearly 82 and had been an active bushwalker since he retired in 1993.
David was born in Mudgee, grew up in Wollongong and moved to Canberra to join the public service in 1959 after a short spell at Port Kembla steel works. He had been a Queen’s Scout as a boy and led a troop in Canberra. He had served a brief National Service in the army catering corps.
David was a formidable bushwalker. He frequently led day and overnight walks for the National Parks Association of the ACT and other Canberra bushwalking groups as well as participating in private walks. These included trips to Namadgi, the Snowy Mountains, Warrambungles, Hume and Hovell track, Nadgee, Budawangs, Great Ocean Walk, and further afield to the Heyson Trail in SA and Kimberleys, Kakadu and Tasmania, including several to the challenging south west. He made a number of trips to New Zealand and a walking tour to Japan. He had a special love for the Royal National Park near Sydney and often used this overnight walk as a training walk for longer expeditions.
In 2003 David started his obsession with the Bibbulmun Track with his first section of the Track (Pemberton to Denmark) with two companions, Neville Esau and Timothy Walsh. He went on to complete the Track at least five times. His last walk on the Bibbulmun was in September 2017. He loved the order and routine walking the Bibbulmun Track could offer. As well, he revelled in being able to meet and talk with a new cohort of walkers most nights. David was known as something of a gear freak and spent a good amount of time researching the latest light weight gear and places to visit. This benefitted many as he was always pleased to offer advice to those keen to do likewise.
David was always interested in the thoughts and activities of young bushwalkers and enjoyed evenings in Bibbulmun shelters when he could tell of his own adventures and pass on tips and words of encouragement.
Although he rode a horse for pleasure when he first moved to Canberra, David was a passionate supporter of the Save Kosci protest movement held in November/December in 2018. Despite his poor health and obvious deteriorating condition he was a key player in the National Parks Association’s contribution to the campaign. He drove support cars and on the last day joined the main body of participants who walked from Charlotte Pass to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko. He managed to get to Rawson’s Pass. No mean feat.
David was always a stimulating walking companion. On many trips he brought along newspaper quizzes to entertain us in the evening. He was widely read and never afraid to engage in robust conversations. One friend has said of him “Initially I found him a little forthright in manner but soon discovered his generous and kindly heart”. Once, in New Zealand we arrived at an isolated hut to find three walkers looking for a fourth to play bridge. David, a keen player, was pleased to be able to oblige.
David was lucky to be supported in his travel adventures by Robin, his very patient and understanding wife.