The Sydney University Bushwalkers (SUBW), a USU club, will release a nude calendar for 2014 on November 20. The calendar will feature unclad members of the club posing for the different months of the year, including group photos and some shots of individuals.
When the club released a nude calendar last year, they subsequently discovered that members of the club in the ‘90s had also done so. “We found out from some old-timers in the club that there’d actually been a previous [calendar] in the early ‘90s,” said Tim Vollmer, a SUBW member. “So it seems we’ve unknowingly re-ignited a club tradition!”
Although the proceeds from the 2013 calendar went towards funding the club’s gear, the club’s committee intends to donate proceeds from the 2014 calendar to the Colong Foundation, an advocacy group that fights to protect areas of the Australian wilderness. Colong’s campaigns include fighting against hunting and horse riding in national parks.
SUBW organises nude bushwalks on approximately a monthly basis, particularly during the year’s balmier months. “The first formally organised nude bushwalk the club did was probably only 18 months ago,” said Vollmer. “And they’ve happened semi-regularly in the warm summer months since then.”
Nude bushwalking has a significant degree of popularity in some adventurous circles of the population. Stephen Gough, a British ex-marine, made international headlines when he walked the length of Britain (from Land’s End to John o’ Groats) in 2004, wearing only footwear and, occasionally, a hat. Gough was arrested numerous times for not wearing clothes during his unclad year-long pilgrimage.
Interestingly, public indecency laws specifically dealing with nude hiking in countries such as Switzerland mean that this activity was outlawed altogether in 2009. Of course, this is emblematic of the social stigma surrounding naked bodies in many societies.
So how do SUBW members feel about going bare in front of others in nature? “It is a reminder that there is no perfect body, just an endless collection of unique forms.” said Vollmer. “It makes me more comfortable with myself, and with others.”
Chantal Bronkhorst, another SUBW member, has never been on an official nude walk, but prefers to get naked “when the natural surroundings are just too good to be experienced fully clothed.”
“You gradually get accustomed to it, and realise everyone’s bodies are beautifully flawed,” Bronkhorst said. “There is nothing to be self-conscious about.”
The calendars will be available for purchase online at www.subw.org.au/calendar.