A Brief History

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 then participated in the multi-day event at Ballarat, Victoria (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.

1991: A number of organisations and businesses were approached for assistance, and 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. The Canberra Two Day Walk Association (CTDW) was established in October.

The first walk!

The first walk!

1992: The first Canberra Two Day Walk was held in March, with an 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.

1994: CTDW representatives presented the event at the IML meeting in Japan, and applied to join the IML.

1995: For the first time the event was organised and run solely by the Canberra Two Day Walk Association, on a “not for profit” cost recovery basis.

1997: CTDW was accepted as a member of the IML in May.

1998: CTDW became an “Active Australia” Provider.

1999: CTDW became a direct member club of the IVV (Internationaler Volkssport Verband or International Federation of Popular Sports) in September.

2000: CTDW won the Department of Sport and Recreation’s Award for Excellence in Volunteer Management.

2001: CTDW celebrated its 10th Walk and presented the first Gold Medals.  Volunteers’ Award Medals were introduced for long serving volunteers. Canberra hosted the Biennial Conference of the Pan Pacific Region of the IML.

2005: After moving between six different starting points, the event moved to the Charles Sturt University location in Barton in and stayed there until 2017.

2006: CTDW celebrated its 15th event. The first green and gold medals were presented to 16 walkers who had completed the challenge for all 15 events. The 15th event was the last presided over by the founding president, Harry Berg. At the AGM Lachlan Wilkinson took over as president.

2007: The 16th walk saw the introduction of the walking marathon on the Saturday with 56 people setting off and all completed the challenge. The name of the event was also changed to the Canberra International Walking Weekend.

2010: The CTDW medal/pin was now 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.

2012: AussieWalk moved into the realm of social media (Facebook and Twitter). At the AGM Diana Marshall took over as president.

A photo of Harry and Kathleen Berg with GG Quentin Bryce.

Harry and Kathleen Berg with Governor General Quentin Bryce in September.

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.

2016: Canberra Walking Festival celebrated the 25th Canberra Two Day Medal Walk. A point-to-point route was offered for the first time, with walkers completing a section of the Centenary Trail on Saturday. A number of pre- and post-Festival walks were also offered to showcase the best of Canberra. CTDW obtained a Health Promotion Innovation Fund grant which paid for bus transportation to the start of the point-to-point walks, plus some much needed publicity to build awareness of the event within Canberra and Australia. A new medal system was introduced, with medals to be presented to participating walkers each year (when walking both days of the weekend).

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 walks across Australia. CTDW is a member of AussieWalk IVV. Australia, through AussieWalk IVV is now a National Member of the IVV, following the IVV Congress in Brazil in November.

2017: Australia became a member of IVV-Americas, one of three Continental Associations in the IVV. IVV-Americas covers North and South America and Oceania.

2018: Canberra Walking Festival moves to the historic Albert Hall.

2020: The final Canberra Walking Festival organised by Canberra Two Day Walk Inc was changed to a virtual event at short notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A sad way to end but it was appreciated by those that decided to proceed with the event in their home locality – and it also helped to partially offset the losses that would have been significant if all entries had been refunded. A total of 7 walkers have participated in all 29 events to date.

2021: Management of the event transferred to Lifesmith Pty Ltd and has been rebranded as the Aussie Peace Walk. In 2021 the event celebrated its 30th Canberra Two-Day Walk and 100 years of Rotary in Australia and New Zealand. In addition to the walking events, a gala dinner was held at the National Museum of Australia. The Aussie Peace Walk now supports Australian Rotary Clubs and their fundraising activities that aid community health improvements.