Canberra Walking Festival: History of the Walk
A Brief history of the Canberra Two Day Walk
(from 2007 called Canberra International Walking Weekend, and from 2013 renamed the Canberra Walking Festival)
In 1990, Harry and Kathleen Berg were introduced to the multi-day, long distance urban walks, and the International Marching League [now known as the IML Walking Association (IML)], by the Rijnevelds, Australia's first International Master Walkers. They followed this up by participating in the multi day event at Ballarat, Victoria, Australia (which unfortunately ceased to exist in 1998, after having been held for 28 years). Subsequent participation in the IML walks in Viborg ( Denmark ), Nijmegen (the Netherlands) and Modling (Austria), during a vacation in Europe the following year, consolidated their interest in these type of walks. They then resolved to endeavour to establish such a multi-day challenge walk in Canberra, which was considered to be an ideal place for such urban walks.
After approaching a number of organisations and businesses for assistance, interest was expressed by the "Life. Be In It." section of the ACT Government's Bureau of Sport and Recreation, who agreed to support the concept for its first year, and if successful, for another three years.
As a result, the Canberra Two Day Walk Association (CTDW) was established in October 1991, and the first Canberra Two Day Walk was held in March 1992, with the existing age-based "challenge" medal award system.
The first walk attracted 299 participants, and was deemed a success by the Bureau of Sport and Recreation, who then agreed to continue their support for the next three years, with a gradual transfer of full organisational responsibility to the CTDW association. The event has been held every year since then, with increasing numbers, although the date of the event was moved to April at the recommendation of the Bureau owing to the warmer temperatures experienced in March, and with the first event. The venue for the Control Centre (and the start and finish) has also changed through the years to try out different areas for the walk routes, and to obtain suitably sized venues to cope with the increasing numbers. Since the 1995 Walk, the event has been organised and run solely by the Canberra Two Day Walk Association, on a "not for profit" cost recovery basis.
In 1994, after presentations by representatives from the IML Walk in Japan, the Association applied to join the IML, and it was eventually accepted as a member in May 1997. It also became a direct member club of the IVV (Internationaler Volkssport Verband or International Federation of Popular Sports) in September 1999. In 1998 the Association also became an "Active Australia" Provider. In 2000 the Association won the Department of Sport and Recreation's Award for Excellence in Volunteer Management.
In 2001 CTDW celebrated its 10th Walk with the associated presentation of the first Gold Medals, as well as the introduction of the Volunteers' Award Medals for long serving volunteers. That year also saw Canberra hosting the Biennial Conference of the Pan Pacific Region of the IML.
The event moved to its current start location, in Barton, in 2005. In 2006, CTDW celebrated its 15th event and the first green and gold medals were presented to 16 walkers who have completed the challenge for all 15 events. The 15th event was the last presided over by the founding president, Harry Berg.
At the AGM in 2006, Lachlan Wilkinson took over as president.
The 16th walk saw the introduction of the walking marathon on the Saturday with 56 people setting off and all completed the challenge.
Over the years there have been 7 different starting points and with the routes changing every year, walkers have seen many hidden corners of Canberra.
From 2010, the CTDW medal/pin will be awarded for participation instead of the previous age-based distance achievement. Walkers must still walk on both days to qualify, and the change does not apply retrospectively.
AussieWalk moved into the realm of social media (Facebook and Twitter) in the lead up to the 2012 walk. At the AGM in 2012, Diana Marshall took over as president.
From 2013 the walk was renamed the Canberra Walking Festival and expanded to include 4 events over 3 days: a Friday Welcome Walk and Reception to introduce our interstate and international visitors to the Parliamentary Triangle, a Marathon and Loop the Lake Challenge (with flexible start times and distances) on Saturday and Sunday Circuit options that follow the previous 5, 10, 20 and 30 km route designs. 2013 was a big year for Canberra celebrating its Centenary and a big year for the walk with Kathleen and Harry Berg being awarded Medals of the Order of Australia (OAMs) in the Queen's Birthday Honour's List for their service to recreational walking - truly worthy recipients after being the driving forces behind the event for 22+ years.
In 2016 the Canberra Walking Festival will celebrate the 25th Canberra Two Day Medal Walk. To celebrate, a point-to-point route will be offered for the first time, with walkers completing a section of the Centenary Trail on Saturday. A number of pre- and post-Festival walks are also being offered to showcase the best of Canberra. CTDW applied for, and was successful, in obtaining a Health Promotion Innovation Fund grant. The grant has paid for bus transportation to the start of the point-to-point walks, plus some much needed publicity to build awareness of the event withinCanberra and Australia. A new medal system is also being introduced, with medals to be presented to participating walkers each year (when walking both days of the weekend).
In 2016 a separate not-for-profit national association was formed (AussieWalk IVV) to grow IVV in Australia. This new association has taken over management of the year round walksacross Australia. CTDW is a member of AussieWalk IVV.