Wollangarra is governed by a voluntary Council of 15 people as a non-profit association independent of any school, religion or government funding. This is because we believe that strong organisations get to be that way by fighting their own battles.
Councillors are committed supporters, elected to the Council because they believe in, and support the aims of Wollangarra. Our supporters club of nearly 1000 includes many recent participants in our programs. They help to fund raise to cover any shortfall we incur through keeping our course fees low and affordable.
Brad Woods (Chair)
Brad was introduced to Wollangarra by his son Thom (2007 Alpine Walker) who attended his first Stage I in 2003 with Camberwell High School. Brad’s interest was spiked by Thom’s stories of this amazing place in the mountains with no electricity and a flying fox as the point of entry, but more so by the positive energy and campfire smell that came home with him from visits to ‘Woll’. With Thom’s permission, Brad first visited Wollangarra on Open Day in 2005 and was energised by the place.
Since that time the whole Woods family, wife Jenni and daughter Tessa (2009 Alpine Walker) included, have become actively involved in assisting Wollangarra with the rebuilding work after the floods and social activities on the flat and in the city.
Brad owns and manages a four-generation-old family construction/design firm in Melbourne. Carpenter by trade and passionate about the culture of Wollangarra, he states that he is “honoured to be able to help as much when up beside the Macalister as back in Melbourne”. More importantly he uses his greatest skill, talking, to promote Wollangarra to anyone who will listen!
Will Ford (Vice Chair)
Will grew up in the small country town of Tatura in northern Victoria. He first went to Wollangarra as a fourteen year old on a holiday Stage I program in 2000. He continued to return in the school holidays for Stage II and III programs, and was an Alpine Walker in 2002. Will went on to become a staff member at Wollangarra in 2005. His involvement with Wollangarra inspired a passion for bush tools, pioneer skills and high country heritage. Will has a Bachelor of Environmental Science and currently works in the natural resource management industry. He lives in Beechworth, and joined the Council in 2008.
Jodie Steel (Treasurer)
Jodie was a staff member at Wollangarra in 2000 and has since completed a Bachelor of Business with a major in professional accounting and a minor in law and economics. Jodie works in the logistics industry in a combined role covering financial and productivity analysis, administration and safety. Prior to this she spent a year in Japan teaching English. Jodie plays hockey, basketball and golf. She is interested in environmental accounting and is currently studying to become a Certified Practicing Accountant.
Helen Collins (Honourary Solicitor)
Helen Collins is a lawyer from north east Victoria. She is a keen bushwalker, having been first introduced to the Victorian mountains on a Mittagundi course as a student. Helen helped out on early Wollangarra work parties - carting building materials across (and through) the river, planting trees and digging holes and trenches (including helping with the dugout – twice, and the old telephone line). During 1993, Helen was a staff member at Wollangarra, and has been on Council since 1996, including holding the positions of Secretary and Chair.
Helen has extensive remote area bushwalking experience, both with young people and on private expeditions in Victoria, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and Nepal. On the Council, Helen brings skills and experience in law, risk management, remote expedition planning and environmental science.
Lucy Vardy (Secretary)
Lucy has a passion for working with young people in the outdoors. She grew up in the mountains and they are still her home. Her employment history includes Timbertop, Wollangarra (2008), CERES and various outdoor education programs in schools. Lucy studied a Bachelor of Outdoor Education at La Trobe University and a Graduate Diploma of Applied Learning (Education) at Deakin University. She currently teaches at The Alpine School at Dinner Plain. Lucy has a strong belief in Wollangarra as a place providing meaningful and purposeful outdoor and environmental education to young people.
Ross was Director at Wollangarra from 2005 to 2007. He has an honours degree in Aerospace Engineering, Graduate Diploma in Education and a Masters of Education. Ross’ background encompasses engineering, farming, music, and teaching, and he is currently employed by Origin Energy as an engineer in their wind farm development business. In his spare time, Ross enjoys mountain bike riding, mandolin playing in a gypsy jazz band, surfing, kayaking and hiking. And calling the occasional bush dance at Wollangarra and Mittagundi.
After attending a Mittagundi course in 1985 as a student David spent many a school holiday with Ian Stapleton and Mittagundi staff, mostly digging ditches and new dunnies! When the call was issued for sleeper bearers in early 1989, he was one of many who lined up as the heavy timber was heaved off the semi trailers, carried to the river, floated up stream and stacked where the flying fox is today. Soon after that, David joined the Council, and the rest is history.
David is an agricultural scientist, and is a partner in a business which offers nutritional services and products to the livestock industry in Australasia. David grew up in north east Victoria, and spent a larger part of his time walking, camping, and back country skiing in the Victorian high country. He still makes a break for the mountains with his wife Monique, his little girl Erin and friends when time permits.
Rob is Wollangarra’s closest neighbour. He runs Glenfalloch Station, a 5000 hectare farm north of Wollangarra, which has been in the Gilder family for over 100 years. The Gilders were the last private owners of the famous Wonnangatta Station. Ian Stapleton purchased the Wollangarra property from Rob’s auntie, Barbara, in 1988. Over a number of years Wollangarra has restored Burgoyne’s Hut, an old stone settlers cottage on Rob’s property. Rob is married to Marnie and they have two children, Annabelle and Alfred.
Rod is currently Assistant Principal at Plenty Valley Christian College, a school in the north eastern suburbs of Melbourne. His association with Wollangarra goes back a few years having known Ian Stapleton at Timbertop. Rod’s passion for the outdoors stems from Ian’s influence and following 10 years interstate as an exploration geologist, he stumbled upon Wollangarra after returning to Victoria. Rod strongly believes in the powerful educational opportunities that are provided through Wollangarra and the high country and is pleased that many young people, including some of his Year 9 students, get to experience Wollangarra.
Tess first came to Wollangarra as a fifteen year old on a Stage I program, and has been hooked ever since. In 2007 she took a break from an Arts degree to work at Wollangarra, and has been on Council since 2008, serving as Secretary for part of this time.
She now lives in Beechworth and works as an English and History teacher in Wodonga. She is the Head of the English faculty and the Student Leadership Coordinator, and loves the students and the subjects she teaches. She lives with Will Ford and their two dogs, and makes the six-hour trip to Wollangarra as often as she can.
Sonja was first introduced to Wollangarra whilst she was studying Outdoor Education at La Trobe University in Bendigo. After helping out on courses, she became a staff member in 2008 and developed a passion for introducing young people to the mountains and for all that Wollangarra stands for. Sonja was the Alpine Walk leader in 2009 and found it a most memorable ten days with a very inspiring bunch of young people, completing her ‘Woll’ experience with very fond memories.
In 2010 Sonja completed a Graduate Diploma of Education and currently works as a teacher at The School for Student Leadership, Snowy River Campus. Sonja became a Council member in 2011 and feels it is a great opportunity to give back to a place and community that gave her so much as a staff member.
Aleks first came to Wollangarra in 1995 as a young person on a Stage I. He loved Wollangarra, the philosophy and places he got to go so much that, well, he hasn’t stopped going. He went through the stages as a young person and then was staff in 2001. After the whirlwind of being on staff he settled in to being a Council member since 2003. He holds a bachelor degree with honours in Engineering and works as an environmental engineer in storm and recycled water. Because of his history with Wollangarra and the engineering field he can critically assess problems that face Wollangarra in a logical manner that still respects Wollangarra philosophies.
Born in Heyfield, Christine was recruited as a Council member in order for the Council to have some valuable local input. Through her volunteer work at St Vincent de Paul over the last thirty years, she had the pleasure of working with Aunty Molly Lanigan (from Ian’s book ’Jim & Molly’). Now her father (in his 80’s) has Molly’s old job at Vinnies: cutting the buttons off unusable items. It is through this work that she has had contact with a lot of the Directors and staff in the past. Knowing a lot of local people who have supported Wollangarra since its inception has meant that she has helped with various projects, demolishing houses, working bees, and woodchop weekends. Some of you may even remember Sneaky the kangaroo who she and Paul raised then gave to Wollangarra when she became too big for their town block.
Unlike Christine, Paul has only been in the area for thirty-five years so he is ’not quite a local yet’. As an active bush walker and skier, he was quickly enlisted into the SES. A lot of SES members like Charlie and Cath Noble and Des Sinnot became supporters of Woll and it was through this connection that he first became involved with Wollangarra. While not getting up in the bush as much as he used to, it was the idea of encouraging young people into the mountains and the idea of living sustainably that led him to accept the offer of becoming a Council member.