Have you ever wondered what it would be like to belong to a walking group? To be out in the wilds, with just an Echidna watching you? To walk along a pristine shore where few people ever wander? To come home tired and happy, full of fresh air, and memories of finding wild orchids growing?
I talked to Kaye Alford who belongs to an informal group called the Tarra Trampers. They arrange walks approximately every three weeks. Often the walks are in this beautiful area (Gippsland, Victoria,) as there is so much to explore. We are lucky to have beaches and forest nearby. Wilson’s Prom is another favourite place.
Kaye and her group have been to Tasmania, the Blue Mountains and New Zealand. With New Zealand a firm favourite. The ‘special’ walks and tours are an annual event. The group is returning to New Zealand next year.
The Tarra Trampers range in age from about 30 to 70. The levels of fitness can vary, and the walks are graded so you know if it will suit your fitness. There are easy, to medium/ hard walks. Some require some effort… if it’s in a deep ravine for instance. Gradual slopes make it interesting, as Kaye remarked. “A really flat walk can cause more aches and pains than a gentle hilly one”.
Layers of clothes work well, so as they day warms you can remove some, and the shoes need to be strong with a good tread. Everyone takes some food and drink, and they make frequent stops.
The walks usually take a whole day, but are completed at a leisurely pace. Kaye described finding a baby Echidna, and being fascinated by its rolling walk. Seeing birds that are rarely seen, and finding a whole patch of wild orchids. Being amongst Kangaroos, and other wildlife, all adds to the pleasure. Kaye is a keen gardener so loves the plants she sees. She takes only photographs, and leaves only footprints. Because the places are remote they are not places a woman would walk alone, the companionship and friendship are an important part of the group. The social aspect is one of the pleasures, they usually go to a café for a cup of coffee after the walk. It is a group where single women would feel comfortable.
In fact there are many benefits: it keeps you fit (walking is still the best exercise), it keeps you mobile. Belonging to a group helps to keep you in contact with the world. Makes sure you don’t shut yourself away. You learn more about your area, and take awesome photographs! I am pretty sure after a day in the fresh air that sleep is deeper and it comes easily. A plus for many older people.
Kaye and her group have no formal ‘membership’ or financial aspects, they are just friends who meet for a walk, so if you think its sounds a good idea perhaps you could start one in your area?
If you are interested in taking off for some fun and adventure, or just want some of the great outdoors, there are many organisations that you can get involved in. Australia’s national association Bushwalkers Australia (http://www.bushwalkingaustralia.org/index.html) is a great place to start looking for your local bushwalking/tramping group. They not only provide information and contact details on all states and territories clubs, but also tips and a guide for everything you need to know for safety, grading system of walks and equipment.