Jul 142020
 

Our Walking Groups

We have two walking groups: our original Walking Group led by Robin Gardner, with assistance from Graham Clark and Kay Bichard; and our Gentle Walking Group led by Pam Griffith.

Both groups meeting on Mondays, 9.30-11am.

Jul 122020
 

Last Monday, the Walking Group walked along the Yarra near Pound Bend. Brenda Hilson reports that, although it was a bit drizzly, it was still very enjoyable to be out in nature and good to see that the water is running high.

        

Jul 062020
 

On 29th June, the Walking Group walked along Osborne Road in North Warrandyte. Brenda Hilson has sent in some gorgeous pictures together with the following message: "A beautiful sunny winter's day. Fabulous morning along the river. Thank you Mother Nature! And thank you too Rob for providing your leadership."

        

Jun 212020
 

Each week a group of easy walkers meet together to enjoy a good walk, lots of chat and (of course) exchanging of thoughts and ideas. We regularly solve the problems of the world whilst we huff and puff along the pathways of Nillumbik Shire and surrounds. It's a great way to start the week, especially since the easing of some of the restrictions.

As our walks meander along, I am always amazed at the range and number of interesting snippets of conversation I hear and (of course) take part in.

A few weeks ago, as we walked on the path in the lower reaches of Westerfolds Park, I happened to mention to my companions that I and others from various community groups helped with the plantings of all the native trees and understory plants in the park. People were surprised when I spoke of how the park had developed.

When one walks through the many winding pathways of the area, one tends to think it has always looked as it does today. That is not the case. The hundred year old river red gums were always there, but all the small (now 30 foot high) wattles and gums were planted out in the early 1980s. They now provide screening and habitat for all manner of creatures, as well as shade and visual appeal as they flower and grow towards maturity.

From my memory, I seem to recall that, when the park was declared in 1977 by the then Melbourne Water Authority, it was rolling pasture and grazing land for the old Manor House property. The imposing Manor House was built in 1936 and stands now empty as a reminder of a bygone era.

During the rapid expansion of Melbourne, many farms and local orchards were subdivided for housing. However, because of the regular large floods in our area, the Manor was not sold off and (of course) our community are the beneficiaries.

When the park was first laid out, it looked so stark with its bitumen pathways crisscrossing the pastureland of waving grasses with all those old river gums standing like sentinels guarding the former property and (of course) the land of the indigenous owners the Wurundjeri people of the first nation.

It wasn’t long before a Friends of Westerfolds Group was formed and, through the efforts of that group and many other groups including Manningham and Eltham councils working alongside park’s staff, the park was transformed into a sea of green plastic tree guards with thousands of carefully chosen indigenous plants beginning to spring up along pathways and in creek gullies.

We are lucky that so many people cared for this area and helped to establish a great recreational and cultural asset for us all.

So, many years later, it gives me pleasure to see that our many hours of work planting and sharing post-planting tea and scones have brought this place to life. This park and the wonderful river are all part of our local environment.

We are all charged with the responsibility of seeing it preserved and well used long into the future.

Oct 012019
 

Thanks for Gillian Essex’s’s article last month about the Walking Group. My husband John and I have enjoyed many walks with this group and echo the comments made in the article, particularly in relation to the great work put in by Rob (and Graham) to run the group. Participating in these walks, however, requires a reasonable level of fitness as they are of 1.5-2 hours’ duration, often involving walking on narrow, and sometimes steep, paths.

As you might be aware, at the beginning of 2019, Pam Griffith started a Gentle Walking Group to cater for those who would love to walk but are unable to manage the distance and/or terrain of the established walking group. This group usually walks on flat-paved paths for around 1 hour. John and I often now walk with this group, which usually has between 10-15 participants. It’s a great idea to have the two groups so that people can choose which one best suits their needs/abilities. As with the original walking group, members of the Gentle Walking Group also meet for coffee and socialising after the walk, which is held on Monday mornings at 9.30am. We really appreciate Pam facilitating this group.

Sep 012019
 

The walking group is one of Nillumbik U3A’s longest running groups and with good reason. We are blessed, in this region, with a proliferation of readily accessible walking tracks, affording excellent views and with many having an interesting history which few residents are aware of. But our leader Rob Gardiner is doing his best to change that, particularly in relation to the Aboriginal history of the area. Impressively, he is still managing to come up with new walks after many years on the job.

With the great outdoors as our classroom, we don’t have space restrictions so there has not, as yet, been a need to restrict numbers. There is no requirement to walk every week (though the opportunity is there even through term breaks). The term breaks afford us the opportunity to travel further afield – sometimes with an enjoyable lunch involved – as there is no need to get back for other classes.

When Rob is off walking somewhere else in the world, other members of the group step up as leaders – in particular Graham Clark. I personally find it a rewarding activity exploring on an occasional basis to find a new walk and researching the history. However, it also serves to remind me of the time involved and the effort required to do this week after week and makes me appreciate Rob’s commitment to our group even more.

We are a social group – an important feature of the walk is the coffee stop afterwards. While we have favourite coffee shops, we also make new discoveries as well.

We even have enjoyable weekends away to Gardivalia, the Gippsland Garden Festival, thanks to the efforts and hospitality of Jan Holland.

With the frosty mornings we’ve had recently, it’s been necessary to rug up and sturdy shoes are always recommended. However, in spite of this, some of our members still manage to look stylish – a feat I personally find impressive – as evidenced by the photo of Ros Camera and Heather McGain, both regular walkers.

When the sun is shining, the river is flowing, the wattle is blooming (as shown in the photo above, which was taken at Tikalara Park on a recent walk), and the company is convivial, what’s not to love?