Wollangarra was founded by Ian Stapleton. Ian spent most of his working life amongst the mountains and their people. In the early days of outdoor education in the 1960s and 70s, he led all sorts of school groups on hiking trips, working with Outward Bound before spending six years as the first full time Hike Master at Geelong Grammar’s Timbertop campus.
In 1980, Ian left Timbertop to establish Mittagundi, a non-profit outdoor education centre based at Glen Valley on the Upper Mitta Mitta River. Mittagundi set out to provide a mountain based experience that was available to all young Victorians, especially those not lucky enough to attend places like Timbertop. Built entirely by hand by volunteers, Mittagundi slowly grew into a pioneer style settlement, built in the traditional way and many miles from the noise and confusion of a big city. Mittagundi is still thriving, re-injecting a vital sense of purpose and community into all sorts of young lives.
In 1988, Ian wrote ‘Something Small: The Story of Mittagundi’. The proceeds were used to purchase the remote block of land upon which Wollangarra now sits.
Ian and his wife Olivia now live in Harrietville, where he is putting together a series of books about the characters and pioneers of the mountains, many of whom were a large part of the inspiration behind his work with young people.