History

Skydive Ramblers History

The History of Skydive Ramblers

Back in 1966, Bob Morrison was the original Rambler. He trained up Instructor Dave McEvoy in 1967. With Bob, Dave and another Rambler, Phil Whatmore, made the Australian Parachute Team in 1970 and went to the World Parachute Championships in Yugoslavia.

1970 Australian Parachute Team. L-R. Jim Cox, Dave McEvoy, Faye Cox, Phil Whatmore, Bob Morrison,Tony Curl, Bob Barry. Insert Phil Whatmore.

Upon return from oveseas Dave carried the Ramblers torch and founded Ramblers Parachute Centre in 1974, opened a parachute shop at on Wynnum Road at Norman Park in Brisbane and started training new students professionally. Dave eventually brought the shop. The Shop was is use until 2008.

In 1976 Dave founded the successful Australian parachuting magazine ‘Rambling On’ to communicate with jumpers nationwide, after the previous magazine, the Australian Skydiver Magazine folded.

In October 1979, Dave purchased the land at Toogoolawah and built the drop zone from the ground up.

In 1979, Ramblers became the first Parachuting organisation in the world to use modern sport parachute equipment (piggyback systems) for student use.

In 1982, Ramblers was the first organisation in Queensland and second in Australia to adopt the Accelerated Freefall (AFF) method of student training.

From the very beginning Dave realized the need for an independent skydivers club for qualified recreational parachutists and their families so the Toogoolawah Skydivers Club (TSC) was formed. The Club continues to support all jumpers at the Drop Zone who take up this new and exciting sport.

During the 80s Ramblers Drop Zone was the host of two international skydiving competitions, the South Pacific Championships and the World Cup of Canopy Relative Work.

In the late 80s, the Drop Zone hosted three consecutive Australian National Skydiving Championships.

In 1984 the Drop Zone acquired a Twin Bonanza 10 pace aeroplane.

In the early 90s, Ramblers was the first operation in Australia to use the Tandem Assist (TAF) method of training students.

In 1994, the Drop Zone hosted the first Equinox Boogie, which is regarded as Australia’s premier international skydiving event. The Equinox Boogie continues to draw skydivers from across Australia and the world every second year.

In 2000, the Australian National Skydiving Championships were again hosted at Toogoolawah and were held there for another two consecutive years.

In June 2010, Ramblers purchased their first brand new Cessna 208 Caravan aeroplane, another monumental milestone.

In September 2017 Ramblers purchased its second Cessna 208 Caravan aeroplane.

Skydive Ramblers is the longest running and most experienced skydiving institution in Queensland. To this day, Ramblers continues to grow and reach new heights in the Sport and in the Industry. Ramblers is undoubtedly Australia’s most progressive parachuting and skydiving training organisation – a leader that has set the standard for other drop zones to aspire to.

Grand Opening, Queens Birthday Weekend – Monday 11th June 1979 (Video by John Grieg, Jas Shannon, and Karl Sporogis)

Timeline of Ramblers

Dave and John McEvoy (1970-ish)

1971/72 Ramblers jumped at the Caloundra Airport.

1973-76 Ramblers jumped at the Aroona Drop Zone, at Kerry near Beaudesert.

1976 Ramblers moved back to the Sunshine Coast to the Caloundra Downs Drop Zone.

1978 Ramblers jumped at the Kingaroy Airport, before David McEvoy bought the land on 7353 Brisbane Valley Highway at Toogoolawah and the local council built the airstrip.

1978 was also the year that Macca first jumped into the Ekka, the Brisbane Exhibition. The Ekka jumps continued until 2006.

1979 – Grand Opening

Ramblers Drop Zone at Toogoolawah was established in 1979. First jumps were made on the 2nd Saturday in February from the Cessna 180 VH-RJN. Jon Kent was the first to land, just before Macca.

The Clubhouse

The original Club House was moved from Brisbane (after it was moved back from Russel Island!) and erected at the drop zone for the weekend jumpers to have a home.

1980 – The Canteen was built.

1981 – South Pacific Champs & Airshow held at the Drop Zone.

1982 – Commonwealth Games, Ramblers “Magnificent Nine” jump tri-planes into the Closing Ceremony.

1984 – Pool Official Opening. The pool was built by the Toogoolawah Skydivers Club.

Pool Official Opening, 19th Feb. 1984. Photo provided by John Meara.

In 1984 Ramblers were the first in Qld to start AFF – Accelerated Freefall Courses, in addition to the traditional Static Line progression.

1985 – The huts for accommodation were moved to the Drop Zone.

1986 – Gatton World CRW Championships, Dave competes in CRW 8-way stack “XXXX – Early Openers”. Place third.

1986, 87, and 88 – Toogoolawah hosted the National Championships.

1988 – Dave competed in 8-way CRW at the World Championships in Vichy, France. Place second.

1994 – First Ramblers Post Equinox Boogie!

1995 – The Drop Zone Rigging Loft was built.

1999/2000 – Nationals at Toogoolawah

1999 – Alan White’s Airsuits hut was built on the DZ.

2000/2001 – Nationals at Toogoolawah

2001/2002 – Nationals at Toogoolawah

2004 – 10 years Equinox Boogie!

2005 – First Skysisters Female Skydiving Convention SS1 held at Toogoolawah.
The 47-way female formation skydiving record was set.

2007  The 2nd Skysisters Female Skydiving Convention at Toogoolawah saw a new female wingsuit flock and a CRW record being set.

2008 – April: The 9th WPMC World POPS Meet & Championships held at Toogoolawah.

2010 – Ramblers purchase their own brand new jump plane – our Cessna Caravan VH-DJV, aka “Homer“.

2011 – April: 3rd Skysisters Female Skydiving Convention – SS3

2012 – April: APF National Skydiving Championships at Toogoolawah DZ.

2013 – April: APF National Skydiving Championships at Toogoolawah DZ.

2014 

  • June: 35th Ramblers Anniversary Reunion, Queens Birthday long weekend
  • Sara joins the Ramblers team
  • Claude Gillard moves to the Drop Zone
  • October 2014: 20 years Equinox Boogie!

2016 

2017

2018

  • The Drop Zone keeps developing… 8 new self contained air conditioned units established, along with 2 modern motel units.
  • New packing mats, padded and colour coded.
  • Phil Whatmore Art Gallery established on the Drop Zone
  • April: Arepafest Angels Camp
  • May: Darren Doyle takes over as Chief Instructor
  • May: Red Thunder Air Show Demo
  • Karen McEvoy is back on the team.
  • The manifest computer system received an upgrade with loads displayed on screen in the turkey hut and at the embarkation area
  • October: Equinox Boogie 2018
  • Downunder Dynamics + Foot Fetish Camps
  • Aussie Bigways Camps – Larry Henderson Camp

2019

  • Pool Renovations with a new fence.
  • The Coachhouse Café is operating the new snackbar at the Drop Zone.
  • Rail Trail opening
  • Pontiac Club Visit

Today, the drop zone has grown into a style of Country Club – a Resort for skydivers! It is now regarded as one of the Top 10 drop zones in the World, for the facilities, the training courses, the weather, the aircraft, the people and the fun. Ramblers Drop Zone at Toogoolawah is an excellent place to Learn to Skydive and to do Tandem Skydives, as well as for fun jumping action, team training, Learning Curve Camps, and Instructor Rating Courses.

We spent eight days at Skydive Ramblers and had great time. Awesome DZ, awesome friendly staff, great airplane and facilities. Accommodation on premises was great and very reasonably priced. We also enjoyed after jumping socialising at the bar on DZ and great food both at DZ and in nearby Toogoolawah town. Skydive Ramblers are wingsuit friendly and there is plenty of landing space around DZ.
Highlight of our trip was incredible kangaroo action at landing area - we did literally land on kangaroos and it was great fun :-) There are also wild koalas in the area.

Alexander Safonov

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