The Canberra Walking Festival is an unusual and unique event in Australia, and there are several questions that often arise. Hopefully this page will help to answer most of your questions. If not, please feel free to contact us.
Q: I have heard this event referred to as a “two day walk”. Will I need camping gear?
A: No. Each day the walk starts and finishes at the same place. Once you finish walking for the day you return home to your accommodation to sleep. One of the reasons behind changing the event name from the Canberra Two Day Walk, to the Canberra International Walking Weekend, and now Canberra Walking Festival, was to help dispel this common misconception.
Q: What should I carry for the walk? Do I need to take a backpack?
A: A large backpack is generally not necessary, but most people take a small day pack. We suggest you consider bringing the following: sunscreen, hat, water bottle (although drinks are regularly provided at the checkpoints), sunglasses, camera, a small amount of money (there are shops along many of the routes) and any snacks you might require during the walk. Some walkers on the longer routes pack a picnic lunch to eat on the way.
Q: Are refreshments available?
A: Checkpoints are placed at regular intervals and will be shown on your route maps – usually every 5km or so. Water (and sometimes cordial) is available at each checkpoint. Most of the walks will also pass by one or more shops along the way. A local scout group sells refreshments at the completion of the walk. We recommend that walkers take their own water bottle on the walk, particularly if the weather is hot. Many walkers also take trail mix or jelly lollies (sweets/candy) on the walk.
Q: How long are the circuits? Is it the same route on both days?
A: There are no repeating circuits for the walks – each walk is one large loop and the route will be different on each day. Generally the routes will cover a significant part of Canberra, showcasing the beautiful Lake Burley Griffin and Parliamentary Triangle. From year to year the routes change, so returning walkers will see something different. Canberra has a vast network of bush trails and multi-use paths (for pedestrians and cyclists), so walkers will seldom need to cross roads during the walks. From 2016 we have had a point-to-point walk on one day, with free bus transport to the start of the walk (from the Control Centre) for walkers who register online.
Q: Can I bring my dog?
A: Generally no. Many of the routes, particularly the longer ones, will pass through reserve areas where dogs are not permitted, so we advise against walkers planning on bringing their dogs. For any walks where dogs are permitted, please remember to bring suitable equipment to deal with the “doggy-do” as required by law!
Q: Can I do the walks in a wheelchair? And what about strollers?
A: Wheelchairs are generally impractical on most of the walks because the walks usually include some unsealed paths, which are not suitable for wheelchairs. If you are planning to enter with a wheelchair we suggest you contact us in advance to determine the suitability of the terrain for the distance you are interested in completing.
Some walkers take off-road style strollers on the 10km walks.
Q: Can I enter on the day of the walks?
A: Yes! Entries are welcome on the day. Just make sure you have had sufficient training time for the distance you are planning to complete. You should also arrive in plenty of time to complete your registration. Please note that a seat on the bus to the start of any point-to-point walks is subject to space availability if you register on the day. Therefore we encourage you to register online in advance if possible.
Q: What time should I arrive?
A: All walkers are required to check in prior to commencing the walk. You will also be checked back in on the completion of your walk, so if there is any reason why you need to pull out along the way, please make sure you let us know. Check in occurs up to 30 minutes prior to the walk’s scheduled start time – for more information see the event timings on the program. If you are registering on the day you should ensure you allow plenty of time.
Q: Is parking available?
A: There is parking available in the Hyatt Hotel car park and directly across Commonwealth Ave, with access to Albert Hall via an underpass – see location map – noting that there is paid parking on weekdays, but free over the weekend.
There is also a bus stop right out the front of the Albert Hall, using any Blue Rapid bus – more details on our Accommodation and Transport page.
Q: What distance should I walk?
A: This is up to you. In past years there were minimum distance requirements based on age to qualify for the medal, but this requirement has been removed from 2010 to encourage greater participation (but is not retrospective). If you are not accustomed to walking longer distances we recommend you start with the 10km distance and perhaps build up on following years. There are many parents who choose to walk the shorter 10km route with their children. Interestingly our oldest marathoner (completing 42km) in 2015 was 74 and our oldest walker overall was 90!
Q: How long will the walk take each day?
A: This depends on the distance you walk:
5km walkers usually take 1-2 hours
10km walkers usually take 2-3 hours
20km walkers usually take 4-5 hours
marathoners (42.2km) walkers usually take 5-8 hours
We ask walkers to be back by 4pm each day, primarily so that our volunteers do not have to stay out for an excessively long time at the checkpoints. However this time is based on the marathon completion time, and checkpoints will close progressively throughout the day. For the shorter distances you may have time to stop for a quick coffee break or brief picnic lunch along the way, but we ask that you keep any stops to a minimum so that you do not fall too far behind the rest of the walkers and risk checkpoints closing before you get there.
Q: Is it a race?
A: No! This is one of the unique aspects of this event. It is designed to encourage participation but still provide an individual challenge with the various distance options available. There are no additional awards to those who finish first. A small number of walkers will race walk to the finish, but most will take their time and enjoy the scenery and the company of the other walkers along the way. Running is not permitted – this is an event for walkers!
Q: Do I need to train?
A: Yes! Unless you are in the rare minority and have a very good base fitness level, you will find the distances required for this event a challenge. Even if you can complete the first day without a problem, heading off on a second consecutive day adds an extra degree of difficulty. We suggest you consider our training programs for the longer distances, but even the 5km walks will require prior preparation. Until you have tackled a long walk you will not realise what other issues will arise – blisters are a good example! So make sure you have broken in the shoes you plan to wear and have trained appropriately for the distance you want to tackle.
Q: How can I improve my walking pace?
A: Our training programs will assist in part to improve your pace, but you may also want to consider either joining a walking group that focuses on fitness walking, or participate in a local parkrun (parkwalk). With over 250 parkruns around Australia, and 1300 worldwide, there is likely to be an event near you. It’s free and you get your time after each event, so you can easily monitor your progress. In Australia we also give IVV walkers free IVV credit for each parkrun completed – make sure you join the AussieWalk “club” when you register.
Q: How many people participate?
A: There are usually over 600 participants with walkers travelling from most states of Australia and many international countries.
Q: With what is the CTDW organisation affliliated?
A: In the early days the walk was partially supported by the local ACT government, but now CTDW is an independant not-for-profit association run by a small committee of volunteers. CTDW is a member of the IML Walking Association and the International Federation of Popular Sports (IVV) as a member club of AussieWalk IVV. The CTDW has no religious or political affiliation. We aim to keep our entry fee as low as possible and generally just break even with our cost. That said, out partner charity is the Heart Foundation and we also support a number of other local organisations who assist us with the running of this event. In 2016 we were fortunate to secure some one-off funding from ACT Health to cover the cost of bus transport and advertising.