The Walking Volunteers
‘The Walking Volunteers’ were formed in 2004 when a number of experienced walkers and groups including North Sydney Walking Volunteers, came together to create a network of significant walking routes in Sydney. Over time this resulted in a partnership between The Walking Volunteers, Department of Planning, NSW Government agencies, Sydney Coastal Councils Group and individual councils to develop the 760 km Sydney Harbour and Coastal Walking Network from Palm Beach to Cronulla and around the foreshores of Sydney Harbour to Parramatta.
This project was completed in 2014 and marked by the 315 km Inaugural Sydney Harbour & Coast Walk over 30 days. The Walking Volunteers identified a need for local and long-distance walking routes in Western Sydney. In 2014 Walking Volunteer Leigh Shearer-Heriot set out to identify a walking route from Parramatta to Penrith that maximised walking in bushland and parkland and linked Parramatta Park with Western Sydney Parklands and Wianamatta Regional Park. He was joined by Bill Avery in 2015.
The Walking Volunteers are working with the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC), relevant Western Sydney councils, Western Sydney Parklands Trust and NSW National Parks to develop the Western Sydney Walking Network, now comprising 340 km of tracks and pathways. On 11 October 2019 the 65 km Great West Walk was officially opened between Parramatta and Penrith, with The Walking Volunteers leading the five-day Inaugural Walk.
Sydney Harbour & Coast Walk
The Sydney Harbour and Coast Walk passes through four national parks and many heritage sites. It is of national and international significance. The walk along the coast features rugged headlands, sweeping beaches, lagoons, bush tracks, cliff-top walks, dramatic views, historic sites and remote sand dunes. Walking the Harbour foreshore offers a wide range of wonderful experiences, including headlands with bush tracks, heritage sites, breathtaking views, quiet bays, superb parkland, islands, ever-changing maritime activities, historic streets and interesting urban areas, iconic city buildings and grand bridges.
The Great West Walk
The Great West Walk links Parramatta Park, Western Sydney Parklands, Nurragingy Reserve and Wianamatta Regional Park with Blue Mountains National Park. The route across the Cumberland Plain provides sweeping pastoral views, surprising parkland gems and constant reminders of Sydney’s colonial past when these vast suburbs were the new colony’s breadbasket. The sandstone cliffs and gorges of the lower Blue Mountains are a wonderful precursor to the sweeping views of the golden ramparts and blue barricades of the Jamison and Kedumba Valleys.
The person who brought the Walking Volunteers together was Bill Orme. The Walking Volunteers who were involved in the Sydney Harbour & Coast Walk project include: Bill Orme, Ian Napier, Leigh Shearer-Heriot, Bill Avery, Phil Jenkyn, Graham Spindler, Charles Pitsillidi, Dominic Adshead, Geoff Lambert, David Eager, Nedra Orme, Caroline Minogue, Jim and Therese Archibald, Neil and Pamela Hardie, Don and Laura Riddell, Bruce Robertson, Cameron Sparks and Paul Webb.
Tragically, Bill Orme died in April 2016 but his vision continues.
Current members of The Walking Volunteers are: Ian Napier, Leigh Shearer-Heriot, Bill Avery, David Eager, Phil Jenkyn, Graham Spindler, Charles Pitsillidi, Dominic Adshead, Geoff Lambert, John Illingsworth, John Baird, Matt McClelland, Nick Hollo and John Faulkner.
The Walking Volunteers involved in the Great West Walk project are Leigh Shearer-Heriot, Bill Avery, Charles Pitsilllidi and Ian Napier.
WORKING WITH GOVERNMENT
Sydney Harbour & Coast Walking Network The Walking Volunteers share a vision with the Department of Planning and the Sydney Coastal Councils Group and others to promote public access to, and appreciation and enjoyment of Sydney’s harbour, its tributaries and coast, for the benefit of the people of Sydney and visitors to the city. They have, as experienced walkers and volunteers, developed the series of maps and brochures that make up the Sydney Harbour & Coast Walking Network. The Department of Planning and Infrastructure through its Sharing Sydney Harbour Access Program (SHHAP) and its Metropolitan Greenspace Program helped fund significant parts of the walking route and contributed funds to the development and printing of maps and brochures.
The Sydney Coastal Councils Group has funded, maintained and promoted, through its Walking Coastal Sydney project, a special website www.walkingcoastalsydney.com.au containing all the maps and brochures, and its member Councils have helped fund and promote the walks.
The development of the Sydney Harbour & Coastal Walking Network has been a partnership project between the NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure, the Sydney Coastal Councils Group and The Walking Volunteers, in association with the following government agencies, local councils and community groups:
Bidjigal Reserve Trust, Department of Health, Department of Premier and Cabinet, Department of Transport, Destination NSW, Historic Houses Trust NSW, Land and Property Management Authority, NSW Maritime, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Office of Environment and Heritage, Office of Sport and Recreation, Parramatta Park Trust, Parramatta River Catchment Group, Premier’s Council for Active Living, Sydney Harbour Federation Trust (Commonwealth), Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, Sydney Metropolitan Catchment Management Authority, Sydney Olympic Park Authority and The Upper Parramatta River Catchment Trust.
Ashfield Council, Auburn City Council, City of Botany Bay, City of Canada Bay, City of Sydney, Hunters Hill Council, Lane Cove Council, Leichhardt Council, Manly Council, Mosman Council, North Sydney Council, Parramatta City Council, Pittwater Council, Randwick City Council, Rockdale City Council, Ryde City Council, Sutherland Shire Council, The Hills Shire Council, Warringah Council, Waverley Council, Willoughby City Council and Woollahra Council.
Association For The Greening Of, Coastal Environment Centre, Concord Heritage Society, Discover Hunters Hill, Heart Foundation, Manly Environment Centre, National Parks Association NSW, National Trust of Australia (NSW) and Parramatta and District Historical Society.
Great West Walking Network
The Walking Volunteers are working with the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils Ltd (WSROC) Parramatta City Council, Blacktown City Council, Penrith City Council, Blue Mountains City Council, Western Sydney Parklands Trust and NSW National Parks to promote public access to, and appreciation and enjoyment of Western Sydney’s parklands, rivers and creeks as well as the magnificent sandstone cliffs and gorges of the Blue Mountains plateaus for the benefit of the people of Sydney and visitors to the city.
WORKING WITH INDUSTRY
Airview Aerial Photography, Avro film-video, David Liddle Photography, David Messent Photography, SkyShots Aerial Photography, Sydway Publishing and John Illingsworth (video).