|I probably wasn't on here back when this thread started, so better late than never.
I was always interested in camping and bushwalking (or at least the idea of it, less so the hard work part). One summer when I was about 15 I went on a YMCA summer camp where people would focus on one activity from a list such as archery, scuba diving, and bushwalking. I signed up for the bushwalking stream.
It turned out the leaders for this stream were several guys from 2 Commando Company. (I think - it was along time ago.) Apart from an actual overnight walk, we got to do all sorts of cool stuff. A ropes course, firing rifles (can you imagine that today!!!), and abseiling at Moorooduc quarry. Given I was actually a bit scared of heights back then, I can't think why the abseiling clicked with me, but it did. To help take people's minds off the height, they set up two ropes and held races. I discovered (pretty much for the first time in my life) that I was good at something physical, and I actually managed to beat one of the commandos on my last race!
At that stage I was hooked, but since I was still at school things went slowly. I haunted the library for books about climbing and mountaineering. I bought myself 120' (36m) of No. 2 (7mm) hawser laid rope, plus (based on the commando gear) 20' of 3/4" linen rope as a waist loop and a Stubai steel screwgate. No leg loops back then! Having talked a mate into getting some gear too, we went back to the Moorooduc quarry where we a) survived, b) had a ball, and c) discovered just how stretchy it can be at the end of a thin abseil rope!
During that year I started haunting the Bushgear store in Melbourne, buying aid gear and practicing on building, bridges, trees, and telephone and stink poles! Eventually the staff got so sick of me they pointed me at a VCC meeting in November. I met several people there, including Iain Sedgman (only a year older than me) who talked me into the VCC beginners' course in February/March. My first real climb was Bridge of Sighs at Hanging Rock with Iain.And the rest is history!