Nov 132023

Our Walking Groups

We have three walking groups: our original Walking Group led by Kay Bichard and others, our Gentle Walking Group led by Pam Griffith and others, and our Slow and Steady Walking Group led by Suzanne Teese and others.

Jan 292024

On 29th January, our Gentle Walking Group combined their usual walk with some local history. Jim Connor, of the Eltham District Historical Society, has highlighted some of Eltham’s historical points of interest on earlier walks so this time they continued on from where their last walk finished by taking a quick look at the buildings around lower Dalton Street. The little cobbler’s shop that sits on Main Road has intrigued many over the years but few of the group even realised that there are two residences tucked in behind with links to the local Skipper family. Indeed the current resident of White Cloud cottage popped out to say hello (or maybe to make sure that the group wasn’t casing the joint). He (Adam) also had a few wry insights into his family history which added to the morning’s charm.

Nov 062023

On 6th November, our Gentle Walking Group tried out the new Seniors outdoor exercise equipment located at Andrew Pocket Park, 60 Diamond Street, Eltham (on the corner of Youth Road, next to the tennis courts). They were shown each piece of equipment under the guidance of a trained volunteer. There is an instructional sign board nearby, as well as QR codes on each piece of equipment, providing users with on-the-spot instructions on how to use each one. Everyone enjoyed this experience and agreed that it was worthwhile.

Read about the equipment on the Nillumbik Council website. There are regular ‘go and try’ sessions.

Mar 292023

On 20th March, our Walking Group walked around the area of Stuchbery Farm, starting from the end of Latrobe Road in Yarrambat.

Mar 062023

 It was a sunny autumn morning on 6th March when the Gentle Walking Group discovered a lovely new walk at Pound Bend, Warrandyte. After some rains overnight, everything was fresh and the river was gently bubbling along, accompanied by a few rosellas.

Pound Bend was a central living and gathering place for the Wurundjeri people and is now a sacred site. There are interpretive signs along the river path with information about the Wurundjeri people.

The area also has an interesting tunnel created in 1870 to divert the course of the Yarra while gold mining was carried out. The project only lasted a year as the expenses were too high and the returns therefore poor.

Dec 192022

On 19th December, our Walking Group had their final walk for the year. 45 walkers followed a bush track along the Plenty river and returned via the back of the Yarrambat Golf course. They lunched at the golf course afterwards.

Aug 152022

Our Gentle Walking Group meets weekly at various locations within Nillumbik and Banyule. Most walks are easily accessed, with ample parking for all our members. However, there is one location, Banyule Flats in Viewbank, which can be a little difficult to find and, although the car parking area is large, it can sometimes be the site of other activities which can make parking a challenge. For example, a major schools cross country event was being held the first time that we visited.

Another such occasion was on Monday, 15th August, where our walkers drove into the parking area, only to be apologetically turned back by a TV crew, who were filming on the oval beside the car park. To add to the confusion, parking was unavailable in the local street due to emergency sewerage works. Not to be deterred, our intrepid walkers parked in the few local side streets available and walked back to the starting point.

We had a beautiful walk along the Yarra River and decided that we would still have our outdoor coffee, as per usual, even though it involved quite a walk back to our cars for chairs and coffee. As we sat drinking coffee, watching the filming, one of the crew members kindly walked up to us and explained that they were filming an advertisement for a new Ford car and financial product. The participants included young children playing soccer, dressed in blue and white (of course), with their parents watching on the sidelines and, of course, a new blue Ford car. He explained that the target audience was young, up and coming families with a need for a seven seater four wheel drive vehicle capable of pulling a caravan.

Some of our number facetiously suggested that we could also perhaps be a target group as some of our number regularly towed caravans and that he might like to include us (as grandparents) in the filming. Unfortunately he didn’t take up our suggestion.

May 132022

Our new Slow and Steady Walking Group has started. As Suzanne Teese has written in: “We enjoyed a misty ramble along the Plenty River from Montmorency Park. How lucky to catch sight of a couple of swamp wallabies? Walking slowly allows us to use all of our senses to appreciate the bush as well allowing for a social chat. More new walkers would be welcome.

Feb 072022

The history of the trail along the Maroondah Aqueduct is well documented on our very own U3A website. In short, Melbourne was running out of fresh water due to gold and the expansion of the population. Hence the building of an aqueduct from Healesville to Preston in 1886, 66kms of waterway, now empty but still here today.

On 7th February, a large group of us ventured out on a fine summer morning to walk the trail before returning to the shade of the nearby trees and, like a flash mob, set up an outdoor café on the grass. Tea and coffee cups were filled and social chat soon spread. One amongst us produced smoked salmon with dill and dijon on brioche, cucumber sandwiches, chocolate biscuits and fruit.

Dec 202021

Our Walking Group’s end of year ‘party’ was held on Monday, 20th December at Panton Hill Hotel and attracted 35 members of the group.

Aug 022021

Despite the recent lockdowns, our Gentle Walking Group managed to sneak in a walk around Kangaroo Ground during which they had the unusual sight of an albino kangaroo.


May 222021

On 22nd May, our Walking Group went for a walk in the sunshine at Mount Baw Baw. Walking in the snow was a new challenge for them. The photo below was taken at the summit, with the stone cairn in the background to the left marking the summit.

Mar 292021

Our Gentle Walking Group walked along the newly-opened Diamond Creek Trail which goes from Wattle Glen to Yarra River. The trail caters for walkers, cyclists and horse riders and it is a beautiful walk. Thanks to Ankie Box for the lovely group photo taken at the start of the trail at Wilson Road, Wattle Glen.

In the photo, the women are on the right and the men are on the left.

Jim Connor has sent in a photo of him and the rest of the Cafe Latte Bike Group overtaking the group above on the day. Says Jim: “We have been riding together for over 10 years and regularly use the Diamond Creek Trail.Says the Council: “The Cafe Latte Bike Group is made up of 15 older riders who cycle and stop off for coffee,

Mar 152021

On 15th March, our Bushwalking Group combined with our Gentle Walking Group to farewell Rob Gardner after 9 years of dedicated leadership. His knowledge of the district, both with the walking trails and the history, has been outstanding. and he has always strived to create an interesting experience for us. Some 45+ walkers held a morning tea following our walk in Ferguson Paddock at Hurstbridge, and presented him with an award, an engraved lead crystal. He will be missed. Thank you, Rob. Enjoy your new life, with all of its new challenges.

The group will now function with Kay as the coordinator, working with a number of others on a rostered basis.

Dec 142020

What a great way to end 2020. Our Walking Group isn’t just all about discovering new areas in the district, or just about fitness, today it was also about delicious food and nice wine! We all had a great time at Shaw’s Winery in Arthur’s Creek. What a fun way to celebrate the near closing of a year like no other and a year that most people will be glad to see the end of.


Nov 092020

It was lovely to be walking together again, albeit in 4 different locations and groups. We walked along the Plenty river. The first row of pictures below were taken by Judy Murfett and the second row by Brenda Hilson.



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?