The Walking Group sets out from the Community House at 8:30am on the last Friday of each month.
Group Leader: Wendy Mason
Phone: 5794 2083
‘Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet’
The ever popular Walking Group is led by Wendy Mason who loves nature, flowers and was given a compass by her husband as a subtle hint to not always get lost in the details. Wendy is also the kind of person who ‘walks in the rain’, whereas others ‘just get wet’. Her kindness and gentle smile remain, regardless of circumstances, and therefore it is only fair to say she leads the way beyond hiking trails and mapped out excursions. Whether you are into walking, nature, plants, birds, friendships or kindness however, the Walking Group has got something to offer.
The Walking Group was started in 2009, and the founding leader was Carmel Sidebottom. In 2015, Wendy was asked to take over and she has been leading this group ever since. “Time really flies, doesn’t it?!” Wendy exclaims as she starts to recount everything that has happened since. “I love walking but for me it’s also about being out in the bush; in the national parks…”
There is no doubting where Wendy’s passion and interest lies as she generously shares stories of how she, alongside walking-buddy Vonnie, once got sidetracked at a guided wildflower excursion in Rushworth, or how they’d suddenly be down on hands and knees after discovering greenhood orchids in spring. “The group itself is a real mix of people though,” she continues to explain. “Some enjoy the fitness benefits, others love the wildflowers and the bush, others are there to have a chat and some are interested in history or birdwatching. So, we try and go to different places. We’ve been to Whroo, the Heathcote Graytown National Park, Melville’s Lookout, where the story goes that bushrangers would hide out, looking for people travelling along the Heathcote Road, especially those carrying gold from the goldfields!”
Sometimes the Walking Group engages different speakers/guides to share historical facts and specific knowledge. They’ve done walks around towns like Violet Town, Shepparton, Seymour, Winton, Euroa, Murchison and of course Nagambie. “The Weaving Garden in the Botanical Gardens in Shepparton was so interesting! It acknowledges Aboriginal history in the area, and also the history of the fruit growers, migrant and refugee populations that came in later. It’s an amazing place! Seymour also has many war memorials and the Vietnam Veterans’ Commemorative Walk where we’ve walked…”
“One exciting thing about the Walking Group is that we discover places in our own backyard that many in our group know nothing about. The Mangalore Flora and Fauna Park is one of those places. You drive past it on your way to Melbourne, but usually no one ever stops there. It used to be an army training camp and later a depot for VIC Roads but is now a reserve. Another place is Hughes Creek Hill Reserve, only 5 kilometres out of town. It was once the spot where the Claybird Club met. It has incredible views towards Nagambie and Mitchelton and to the east towards the Strathbogie Ranges. During that excursion we were even spoiled by Bobbo, with a cup of billy tea; water boiled on a campfire!”
Wendy explains that the number of walkers varies between eight and thirty. “Particularly our February walk can be huge, because it always takes place in Nagambie and many locals and newcomers to town come along. In February we also always have someone come and share their stories and memories of our town.” Neville relayed the story of Nagambie people who threw their dead chooks over the back fence into a lane that became known as Dead Chook Alley. The 2019 February walk featured Eileen McDonald, who talked about Chinaman’s Bridge, the Lake and rowing, to mention a few topics.) “But we never know for sure how many people are coming until the day. I think it’s good that people can just come and go and it’s always great when people offer to lead a walk.”
With many recent studies showing that both exercise and an active social life are two of the most important components of living a long, healthy life, the Walking Group really is the place to be. And not to forget; you get to “walk in the rain” with Wendy.