The Walking Group, led by Wendy Mason, is a popular group that caters to both nature enthusiasts and those who seek friendship and kindness and meets on the last Friday of each month
Leader: Wendy Mason
Phone: 5794 2083
“Some people walk in the rain,
others just get wet.”
Wendy, who loves flowers and nature, was gifted a compass by her husband to help her avoid getting lost in the details. She is known for her ability to walk in the rain while others shy away from it. Wendy’s kind and gentle demeanour remains unchanged, even in challenging circumstances.
The Walking Group offers exciting excursions beyond the usual hiking trails, and you’ll find something of interest whether you’re a fan of walking, nature, plants, birds, friendships or kindness.
The Walking Group was started in 2009, and the founding leader was Carmel Sidebottom. In 2015, Wendy was asked to take over and 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…”
It’s evident that Wendy is passionate about wildflowers and enjoys sharing her experiences with her walking buddy Vonnie. She tells stories of getting sidetracked during a guided wildflower excursion in Rushworth and discovering greenhood orchids in the spring. She explains that the walking group comprises people with various interests, such as fitness, wildflowers, the bush, history, or birdwatching. Therefore, the group visits different places such as Whroo, the Heathcote Graytown National Park, and Melville’s Lookout, where bushrangers used to hide out and target travellers carrying gold from the goldfields.
The Walking Group often invites different speakers and guides to share historical facts and specific knowledge during their walks. They have explored many towns, including Violet Town, Shepparton, Seymour, Winton, Euroa, Murchison and Nagambie. One of the most interesting places they visited was the Weaving Garden in the Botanical Gardens in Shepparton.
This place pays homage to Aboriginal history in the area, as well as the history of fruit growers, migrants and refugee populations that arrived later. Seymour also boasts numerous war memorials and the Vietnam Veterans Commemorative Walk, where they have 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 no one usually 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!”
Friendship in Numbers
According to Wendy, the number of walkers participating in the walk varies between eight and thirty. The February walk, in particular, is usually quite big because it takes place in Nagambie, and many locals, as well as newcomers to the town, join in. During the February walk, guest speakers usually share their stories and memories of the town. Neville shared the story of Nagambie residents who threw their dead chickens over the back fence into a lane known as “Dead Chook Alley”.
During the 2019 February walk, Eileen McDonald talked about Chinaman’s Bridge, the lake, and rowing, among other topics. However, the exact number of participants is never known until the day of the walk. Wendy believes it is good that people can come and go as they please, and it’s always great when someone offers 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.