Exciting update on #WalkForTheTrees2023

In a previous news article, we shared the exciting news of the #WalkForTheTrees2023 event, planned by our Australian coordinators, Mark and Jill, and in collaboration with Atisha Buddhist Center.

So far, Mark Allaway and Ken Fox have committed to walking about 90 Kilometers over 4 days.

The walk starts from Mark’s home in Caulfield, and ends at his weekend retreat at Redesdale, Central Victoria. The walkers will pass important and sacred places with strong connections to the indigenous people, and the wakers will pay respect to the elders, past and present. They will observe and describe the landscape along the route, and the significant plants and animals of the region that they pass through each day.

Mark tells us that “The walk will trace ancient routes across the traditional country of 4 of the 5 clans of the Ngurai Illum Wurrung (First Nations Peoples of the Kulin Nation): the Boonwurrung, the Woiworung, the Taungurong and the Djadjawurung.

The walk will honor the original inhabitants who have occupied, cared for, and managed their country for at least the past 32,000 years (based on physical evidence along the route).

A basic map* of the five languages of the Kulin nation.


Walk details and background

The first day of the event starts off in Yalukit Willam (Boonwurrung) Country, Caulfield, with a brief 2-kilometer stroll to Elsternwick railway station at 06:00 AM, March 27, 2023.

“Because Naarm (Melbourne) is such a sprawling metropolis, we have decided to take the train across the suburbs to Diggers Rest, about 48 kilometers to the north-west. Otherwise, it would take us two days just to escape the concrete and tar, sleeping rough.” Mark says.

From Diggers Rest, after our 2-hour train trip, we can begin our walk through Woiworung Country. This location (Diggers Rest) takes its name from the overnight stay that hopeful goldminers made around 1852 on their way to the Northern goldfields. Some well-off miners traveled by Cobb & Co horse coach, while most walked the 100 kilometers or more to the newly discovered gold diggings. Diggers Rest is now a commuter town.

The walkers will also cross Birrarung (Yarra River) close to where the Yalukit (the earliest Aboriginal inhabitants of the central bay-side region of Melbourne) would have walked over a rocky ford.

An illustration of the Yalukit cross Birrarung (Yarra River)

Mark says that “The Kulin Nation boundaries along our walking route are often aligned with shared river catchments in a very dry, volcanic, and treeless landscape. The rivers supported large, old River Red Gums, but the plains were open and supported only small shrubs and a very important herb called Murnong. It was a food staple harvested for its starchy root. Kulin peoples had a mixed plant diet, supplemented by seasonal animals, fish, bird, and insect foods.

The Murnong herb

Mark says “The Kulin Nation Peoples lived in harmony with the landscape and we will reflect on the importance they placed on the trees, shrubs and animals for their economic prosperity and survival, as we pass through the Country. The indigenous peoples, their culture, and their knowledge have survived. Sovereignty was never ceded.”

To date, Mark has already raised 276 AU$ for this walk, and you can support his walk through his GoFundMe campaign. You are invited to sponsor him per kilometer, per day, or to make any donation you find appropriate. The funds raised will be donated to our Global Tree Initiative operations / office, and to tree-planting activities at Atisha Buddhist Center, dedicated with the Global Tree Initiative. See Mark’s GoFundMe page for more details.

*Image source, Wikipedia.


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