This year’s focus on ‘slow’ has provided many insights from our expert- led walks, both for our team and those who participated.
More than 200 people attended our slow walks series, mostly in small groups, but with some lucky enough to have one-on-one nature-focused time with leaders Sue Brunskill and Karen Retra.
The series included the daytime walks in the regional parks, repeated across three seasons, and three spotlighting night walks led by Ranger Dan and Karen.
Commencing in autumn on the bush tracks of Castle Creek, Baranduda, and Swainsona reserve, the daytime walk series continued across the seasons, capturing the evolution from autumn to winter, then early, mid and late spring in each reserve.
For some participants these walks introduced public reserves they had no idea existed, and opened their eyes to the marvels of biodiversity right here on our doorstep. For those who had been in these reserves as volunteers – often removing invasive weeds or planting for biodiversity – these walks reinforced the value of giving nature a helping hand.
People attending multiple walks were able to see the details of seasonal changes, with Sue and Karen pointing out features of each season; plants emerging, budding, flowering and seeding; insects preparing their various ingenious hideaways for winter and emerging in spring, trees flowering, birds nesting and a myriad of other incremental changes.
Understanding nature isn’t just for scientists. People attending the walks found that they can be citizen scientists without any ‘scientific’ knowledge, by using apps like iNaturalist and FrogID. More than 500 additions were made to local species records on iNaturalist during the project. Some participants have since returned, continuing their observations and contributing further sightings. You can view the project records added to iNaturalist here: Parklands slow nature walk and Parklands night walk
Whether or not people were inclined to citizen science, the walks were definitely a revelation of the power of observation. Many people realised that they have focused solely on the health, fitness and safety aspects when they walk, they have never thought to stop and look at nature.
“I have always walked through bush like this and never noticed any of this and thought it was all quite boring. Now I’ll look with different eyes”.
“Thanks again to you and Karen for yesterday’s eye and mind-opening Slow Walk. Having you two as guides with your combined knowledge was fantastic. I’m already looking forward to the next two walks… the Saturday walk was inspirational for me on many levels. Thanks again to both of you!”
So a big thank you Karen Retra and Sue Brunskill for your inspiring walk leadership, enthusiasm and wealth of knowledge. Thanks also to the New Growth team at DEECA who saw the potential in our Slow Walks concept.
Parklands Albury Wodonga acknowledges the support of the Victorian Government and the Ross Trust for this program.