Sydney Bushwalkers (SBW) first Honorary Active Member joined the club at the age of 20 but her love of the outdoor life started as a child exploring the local bush environment in Sydney in bare feet. Dot became well known as The Barefoot Bushwalker. The publisher of her book of the same title pronounced her ‘a personality of warmth and charm whose sense of fun and abundant enjoyment of life characterises all her experiences.’ National Geographic reporter Gillian Coote described her as a ‘fountain of wisdom, generosity and positive energy.’
In 1936 Dot and Dr Eric Dark were the first to climb Crater Bluff in the Warrumbungles. The following year she went on the first SBW Tiger walk from Wentworth Fails to Mt Cloudmaker and return to Katoomba.
Dot travelled to New Zealand many times on walking trips. She decided to take up a residence there, joined the Alpine Club, and became a guide at the Mount Cook Hermitage.
Returning to Australia in 1941 she resumed bushwalking with the Sydney Bushwalkers where she met and married Ira Butler. After the war, Dot began sharing her knowledge and experience in her own mountaineering school when she founded the Australian section of the New Zealand Alpine Club.
Her travels took her to Russia, Europe and Cambodia on cycling trips, canoeing in Canada and mountaineering in the Himalayas, Alps and Andes. For thirty years she led parties of young people on climbing trips to New Zealand, where Mt Dot in Southland National Park is named in her honour. Dot loved cycling and mountaineering but her first love was always bushwalking.
Dot was also a keen conservationist. She was an active participant in the Garrawarra, Bouddi, Era and Myall campaigns, donated to the Colong Foundation for Wilderness and was a co-founder of Natural Areas Ltd. She was instrumental in the financing and purchase of Sydney Bushwalkers bush property Coolana in the Kangaroo Valley. Dot was a prolific contributor the club’s magazine and was its Editor 1954—1956.
In 1988 Dot was awarded the Australian Geographic Adventurer of the year award ‘in appreciation for her contribution to bushwalking and mountaineering and encouragement of a sense of adventure in young people’.
Dot passed away in Hobart at the age of 77 in February 2008 and her ashes were scattered in the Warrumbungles.
For more information on Dot Butler see:
Her obituary in the Autumn 2008 edition of The Bushwalker
The Barefoot Bush Walker – A Remarkable Story of Adventure, Courage and Romance by Dorothy Butler, paperback, published ABC, 1991
Australian Geographic, Do it like a girl, extract from Edition 16 , by Gillian Coote, 11 July 2018 , https://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/2018/07/the-story-of-dot-butler/