Meet our walkers: Yvonne Morris and Jamie Stewart

Man and woman standing near a blue banner in the Czech Republic.

Yvonne and Jamie at the Czech Republic IML walk held in Brno last September.

At this year’s Canberra Walking Festival awards ceremony Yvonne Morris and Jamie Stewart will receive the gold IML medal for completing 21 IML walk events, including seven Two Day Walks in the national capital.

In addition to Australia, the couple has walked in China, the Czech Republic, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Spain, Taiwan, and the United States.

They learned about the IML Walking Association during their first Canberra Two Day Walk in 2009. “When we saw the list of countries holding IML events we realized we could combine our love of walking and our desire for travelling,” Jamie explained. “Wonderful!”

About this time, Yvonne reconnected with a school friend who now lived in Arlington, Virginia, USA. The following year they visited the friend and participated in the US Freedom Walk Festival. “After each day’s walking we showed her the photos and maps of where we had walked,” remembers Yvonne. “It was a magical holiday.”

Their next walk was in Rotorua, New Zealand, where they met a new friend from the Arlington walk. The first page of their IML passports was complete.

After deciding to walk for the IML Pan Pacific Award, the couple made many new friends in Korea, Japan and Taiwan. “Walking overseas is more than being ‘just another tourist.’ It is about making new friends, catching up with old friends, being outside in the countryside and sometimes rain,” explains Jamie. “Everyone is friendly and helpful, even if we don’t speak each other’s language.”

Their walking adventures began 10 years ago when the pair trained for three 100-kilometre Oxfam events. “During the training we discovered the joy of walking,” Yvonne remembers. “We found that walking was bringing us closer together as we left the mundane chores of day-to-day life at home.”

They decided to search the web for other long-distance walking events and found our Aussiewalk website.

The Melbourne residents enjoy visiting Canberra in the autumn. “It’s good to leave everything behind for a couple of days,” says Yvonne. “We love walking around the lake.” They walk the 30 km Loop the Lake route on Saturday and the 20 km route on Sunday.

Because Yvonne is a medical scientist shift worker with the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, the pair rarely walk together during the week. “We know that we can walk the distances,” notes Jamie, an account supervisor with RGIS, an inventory service provider.

The Canberra Two Day walk is an accredited event of the IML Walking Association, an international organisation that promotes walking as a worthwhile and healthy recreation by accrediting specific walking events in its member countries. The IML motto is “May walking bring us together.”