A report by Andjelka Stevanovic, University of Canberra Intern
The annual Canberra Walking Festival, was held this year over 2 days, on the first weekend of April. The weather was warm, the atmosphere was inviting, and the attendees and volunteers were enthusiastic as always. This year’s new location for the event was a beautiful and historic venue, the Albert Hall. Which proved to be a perfect location and space for the festival, and luckily enough will be for the next 2 years.
With over 400 registered walkers, the festival was a complete success, with once again walkers coming from all around Australia, and the world to participate. To top off the fact that walkers came from all around, they also varied in age, the event caters for all walkers, which it did. Out of Australia’s 8 states and territories, we had walkers from 6 of them attend, and we had participants from 14 other countries, some of them including: Germany, Netherlands, Norway, USA and Japan.
The walks ranged between 5km to the 42km marathon which started on Saturday morning. Many of these walkers participated both days and received a ‘Two Day Medal’ at completion of their walk on Sunday afternoon. As an intern from the University of Canberra I had the pleasure of handing out some of the medals as each walker returned from their walk. Some walkers returning from their charming and scenic strolls and others from scenic, yet long and courageous walks. Walkers had the opportunity to explore around Canberra, by seeing Lake Burley Griffin and its surroundings, the National Dinosaur Museum, and the Australian National Botanic Gardens.
Without the volunteers and the walkers this event is not possible, therefore, the dedication and commitment that comes with this event from the committee, volunteers and the walkers is incredible. Many of the volunteers have been serving for many years, with majority of them completing the walks as well. One of the volunteers has been a part of the event for 24 out of the 27 years, by both walking the tracks and volunteering afterward. Her reasoning behind coming back each year to assist is, ‘because it is a lot of fun’. They are truly dedicated to this event, and the walkers are amazing too.
Many of the walkers were new comers, however, countless amounts of them were returning guests. I had the chance to talk to a few of the walkers from Germany that were first comers to the Canberra Walking Festival, they were excited and amazed at how beautiful it is here in Australia. They have been walking for years and are devoted to achieving more. I also spoke to a woman from Sydney, who has been coming down to Canberra for many consecutive years to attend and complete the walking routes. Their reasons for walking, and continuing to return to Canberra are because it is a great, enjoyable event and many of the walkers have made lifelong friends.
To conclude the wonderful event, achievement awards were handed out and the returning walkers were commemorated, for continuing to return year after year, with one of the international walkers returning for the 11th year in a row, truly amazing! Another great achievement for the AussieWalk, was being able to honour a pair of walkers for completing their final IML event here in Canberra. Each accomplishment is remembered and plays an important role in the events success. I have had the pleasure to be a part of such an incredible and memorable event, and I am amazed at all the organisers and the walkers for all their accomplishments. What a remarkable weekend it was.