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Frank Austin (Paddy) Pallin (1900–1991)

Mr Paddy Pallin – the man who took Australian bushwalking from sugar-bag swags and rolls of blankets to light backpacks and sleeping bags – died last Thursday. He was 90.

Born Frank Austin Pallin in Durham county, England, in 1900, he developed a love of the outdoors during family picnics and on Scout trips in the Yorkshire ‘wilderness’.

Though he was surprised by the primitive nature of the equipment used by bushwalkers when he emigrated to NSW in 1926. He did not immediately set about remedying the problem and instead worked as a share-farmer and then as an insurance clerk.

But after becoming a victim of the Depression of 1930, an unemployed Mr Pallin began making light-weight camping gear on his household sewing machine while his wife worked as a secretary.

The business soon began paying for itself as people began realising that bushwalking was a cheap activity and because no-one else was making high quality bush equipment.

A veteran bushwalker and cross-country skier, Mr Ted Winter, said that while the bushwalker and conservationist Mr Miles Dunphy was a ‘pioneer’ who mapped bush trails, Mr Pallin was the person “who really kicked it along’.

‘By making things like rucksacks and sleeping bags available to the public, Paddy made bushwalking so much easier and pleasant,’ Mr Winter said.

‘Dependability was the word the Dodge Motor Company used, but Paddy rightfully should have used it.’

Mr Palling opened a store in George Street during the Depression and, as his business grew, moved to other premises throughout the city.

He also maintained a close involvement with the Scout movement and bushwalking clubs throughout the State.

In his growing number of shops, he distributed numerous pamphlets and books on surviving in the bush, bush cooking and new trails.

Though he only began cross-country skiing in 1954, he capitalised on the boom in the sport in that decade to become one of the country’s biggest skiing, camping and bushwalking manufacturers and retailers.

The company he started owns 11 stores and runs bushwalking and skiing schools in Victoria and NSW.

Mr Pallin is survived by his wife, Mrs May Pallin, three children and five grandchildren.

A funeral service will be held at the Northern Suburbs Crematorium at 9.30 am tomorrow.

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'Pallin, Frank Austin (Paddy) (1900–1991)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 22 May 2024.

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