Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Wooglemai celebrates young and wild

South West Sydney will celebrate the birth of bushwalking and conservation in Australia by marking the finish of an eleven-day re-enactment of a 1914 walk that ignited Australia’s passion for nature.

The Wooglemai Environmental Education Centre will host the welcome event on Sunday, 5th October as wilderness enthusiasts, Rotarians, teachers and locals gather to share a meal, sing campfire songs and recite bush poems.

They will be celebrating the end of the Dunphy’s Kowmung Adventure – a recreation of Myles Dunphy and Bert Gallop’s historic journey along the Kowmung River. The trekkers will have spent eleven days in the same period costume and using the same equipment as the original bush walkers.

The walk is a lead in to the once-in-a-decade IUCN World Parks Congress being held in Sydney in November and a documentary of the expedition will be shown to the 4,000 international delegates attending the Congress.

The momentous expedition will be led by two young adventurers, Sierra Classen (24) and Alex Allchin (19), who are keen to share their passion for national parks and wilderness areas with others.

“This walk celebrates the legacy of Myles Dunphy, who explored the area a century ago with his friend Bert Gallop, in the earliest days of the first organised bushwalking club, the Mountain Trails Club,” said the walk’s co-leader Sierra Classen.

“Myles Dunphy was also responsible for successful reserve proposals that led to the protection of the wilderness areas that we, and visitors from around the world, still enjoy today around Sydney and the Blue Mountains.”

Wooglemai Environmental Education Centre school principal Peter Nicoll said Wooglemai was a great place to finish the walk and welcome in a new century of bushwalking and conservation.

“Wooglemai’s goal is to foster environmental citizenship amongst the students from the district through school excursions, outdoor camps and a Youth Environmental Network.

“The Youth Environmental Network has an expanding sphere of influence where students actually go out and teach other students about sustainability.” Mr Nicoll said.

Bob Anderson of Sydney’s Catholic Bushwalking Club said that recreating the walk of Dunphy and Gallop was a great way to engage people with the pressing need to protect our precious bushland areas.

“For young people these days, a big adventure is a ride down a yellow plastic slippery dip at a fast food outlet.”

“We have to help ordinary people step off the footpath and into the wilderness,” he said.

“To get people to appreciate the wilderness you need to give them a good walk, plenty of scenery, and a full belly. And that’s what we’re doing.”

“We are so fortunate here in the southern Blue Mountains. There is so much wilderness close by and an encyclopaedia of plant and wildlife right outside the back door.

“There’s nothing like a little fire under the gums! You lay back and look up to watch the sparks join the stars and the light and shadows move on the undersides of the branches. This could change your life,” Mr Anderson said.

The welcome celebration begins at 3:30pm when the Rotarians will be firing up the barbie. Bring hats, sunscreen, and clothing for warm and cold weather, to prepare for all eventualities. Don’t miss this opening to the wilderness at your back door.

Wooglemai Environmental Education Centre, Sheehys Creek Road, Oakdale Sunday October 5, from 3.30pm.

For more information contact: Sierra Classen: 0404 494 896

                                                    (0410 654 942 satellite phone for use from Sept 26 to Oct 6)

                                                    Peter Nicoll (e-mail) wooglemai-e.school@det.nsw.edu.au

                                                    Bob Anderson (home) 4758 9829