Every Sunday, the Tumut and District Bushwalkers set out from the Tourist Information Centre and into the pristine wilderness with which our region is blessed.
Last Sunday their destination was the Buddong Falls. This adventure required a full business day’s worth of putting one foot in front of the other (and also, of course, stopping occasionally to take photos). The group met at 8am, while the town was still encased in frost, strode onto the track near Talbingo at around nine, and returned to their 4WD’s under the light of the moon at 5.15pm – a solid effort involving an over 550 metre climb and mirroring descent, 23 kilometres of ground covered, and plenty of scrambling over fences and creek beds. They’ll all tell you that the views were easily worth the trouble. As with all walks, too, it was as much about the journey as the destination.
“All the magical places that you wouldn’t get to any other way, that you wouldn’t get to see…. just being able to get out into the bush, is so good,” said walker Margie Thornton.
“It’s also a physical, mental, and emotional challenge. That’s part of it as well, a very important part, is testing yourself. You sometimes get pushed to your limit, and you know that you can go a little bit further…and you always do!”
Leader of Sunday’s walk Michelle Johnson agrees.
“The beauty of bushwalking is that we’re so busy all the time, rush rush rush, and this makes you stop and just focus on what’s happening here and now,” she said.
Although she hastened to add that last week’s walk was fairly difficult, and that there are also trails more suitable for beginners that the group goes on – each week varies in difficulty to suit different members.
The group began over 30 years ago as the Talbingo and Tumut Bushwalkers, and has seen a fluctuating rotation of core members and drop-ins since then. The joining process is pretty informal – just show up.
“Generally we have around 10 people turn up, but it can be anywhere from three or four to 20,” said Ms Johnson.
“It’s always different people; you’re not committed to going every week – it’s not one of those things where you have to do it every Sunday.”
The walks change every program and are chosen by the members of the groups themselves, who lead the trails they know the best.
For Ms Thornton, who moved to Tumut from Canberra twelve years ago, the group allowed her to kill two birds with one stone.
“Not everybody would, for preference, join a bushwalking club when they’re new to a town, but I think it’s a really good way to meet people and get to know the area – that’s what appealed to me,” she said.
“I was just fascinated to be in a group of people who just knew so much; there’s a lot of knowledge here. You can get to know a history of the local area.”
The walks usually finish around 3.30pm, and include an afternoon tea as a reward for a hard day’s trekking.
Their walks program can be picked up at the Tourist Information Centre, and any questions can be directed to their Facebook page.