Friday, November 16, 2012

Official Launch of the Whadjuk Walking Trails Network

The Whadjuk Trails Network was officially launched today.
The launch involved a Welcome to Country by Neville Collard, and I realised that we have not consulted well with Nyungah Elders in planning our walks in the past.
The Nyungah Elders presented Councillors with a message stick as part of the opening.
Photo courtesy of Robyn Benken

Following the launch at Allen Park, we walked 1.6km to Cottesloe along part of the route.
Below is the text of my presentation at the launch
(Photo courtesy of Robyn Benken)

In August 2002, in the midst of a campaign to save the university bushland in Underwood Avenue, I realised that we had to encourage the wider community to use and appreciate our remnant bushland areas if we wished to preserve them for future generations. With this idea in mind, the Friends of Shenton Bushland began to organise annual walks through Underwood Avenue bushland. Over time, other people got involved in organising the walks, including Lesley Shaw from Friends of Allen Park, Susie Ross from Lake Claremont, and Robyn Benken from Cottesloe Coastcare, and we began to broaden our concept to embrace the idea of a network of trails through remnant bush lands in Perth's western suburbs. The idea grew, and more people became involved including Stephanie Clegg from Friends of Bold Park, Sue Conlan from Town of Mosman Park, Trish Hewson from Friends of Hollywood Reserve, and Marg Owen from Friends of Underwood Avenue Bushland, and our walks ranged over an area from the Herdsman's Lake to North Fremantle.
At times we have had up to 80 participants on the walks, and found that we had to put walk markers out before the walk to make sure none of the participants get lost, and then collect the markers after the walk, and we began to think: wouldn't it be nice if the trails had permanent markers?
In 2007 we obtained funding from LotteriesWest through the TrailsWest program to begin formalising the trails network, and as part of that project, Lesley Shaw, her daughter Frankie, and June Weller drew up some exquisite logos for each of the trail sections, many of which you can see on the map.
In 2010, Vicki Shannon, the City of Nedlands Bushcare Officer, and Greg Simpson, WESROC project officer developed the trails network concept into a project that WESROC could implement, resulting in the appointment of Sally Wallace as project officer to bring this project to it's present stage. We are indebted to Vicki and Greg for their initiative, and to WESROC for their commitment to bring the project to this stage.
Looking forward, we probably need to think about setting up a foundation along the lines of the Bibbulman Track Foundation to guide and manage the future development of these trails, and to involve the corporate sector and the wider community in funding and managing that development.
We therefore look forward to coming years where we can organize walks along these trails, and enjoy the walk without having to worry about setting out walk markers or losing participants along the way.

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