I’d been looking forward to this event for a long time. It had been cancelled two years running due to COVID but all the stars aligned this year with fine weather, low restrictions, and a free weekend to enjoy it! It’s a ten kilometre walk linking 5 coastal villages of the Central Coast, encouraging a sense of community, showcasing art and music along the way whilst highlighting First Nations peoples culture past and present. I have been exposed to past indigenous culture on my walk via the many hand prints and carvings hidden away in the bush, but I’ve seldom had opportunity to be exposed to modern indigenous art and culture.
The walk began at McMasters beach and we arrive just in time to be led down to the beach bagpiper! A message stick was also being carried from village to village with the intention of spreading a sense of community and togetherness. I’d managed to convince my son to walk with me and he was thoroughly impressed.
On the beach it became apparent really quickly that the hiking shoes should come off. My son walked in the water the entire way along the beach. There were some buskers out and some folks set up to do some art-in-the-open painting on canvas.
We reached Copacabana and checked out the art exhibition in the surf club showcasing the works of local schools. Some of the prices were really awesome. Then we lined up for the free face painting (a shark of course) followed by yet another queue for the first ice cream of the day! We sat a bit and listened to some Maori performers before head off.
I considered catching the bus to the next beach but we wanted to go to the lookout and see if we could see any whales. It was a tough climb along a paved road and really not much fun. We had thought we had seen some water spouts from the beach and maybe a tail splash but couldn’t see anything from up on the lookout. Others had reported seeing whales so we had probably seen them but they just weren’t jumping out of the water.
We considered again whether to catch the free shuttle to the next beach but after waiting five minutes we gave up on it and walked. The bus shot past us pretty much straight away earning me a grumble from my son!
We entered a pocket of bushland and it was quite lush and provided some much needed shade. There was a beautiful spot at the bottom but then we had to climb again. My lack of fitness showed again and I was puffing. I felt a little better seeing most folks around me similarly puffed. But I’m definitely out of shape so I just need to keep pushing myself a bit.
We arrived at Avoca beach and there was a lot going on! The message stick arrived so we got to hear the message read out. A barber shop quartet kicked in and we decided to go for a slash in the water. After all that climbing it felt great to take the shoes off and soak our feet in the freezing cold water. My son had his full swimmers on and we enjoying himself in the water. We grabbed a sausage sizzle and really just lounged on the beach and played in the water together for a while. It was so relaxing!
We decided to walk along the beach again, following the other walkers but generally sticking to the water.
At North Avoca Beach there was a display of massive kites. There was a magnificent blue whale and a shark and other colourful kites flying overhead. There was a little stand set up where kids could make their own kite. That consisted mainly of holding the bits whilst the organiser sticky taped it together. Kids got to choose the colour of the kite body and the ribbon tail. and then it was half an hour of kite flying fun!
At North Avoca surf club there was more entertainment. There was also a display of modern indigenous art. My son somehow convinced me to buy him a kangaroo skin wristband and a boomerang painted by a local indigenous artist! He really liked the style of art and felt a bit special getting something painted by a real artist.
We could see the next part of the walk was a climb and beyond that it would pass by the Skillion formation which we had explored recently so we hopped on the free shuttle bus at this point and headed to Terrigal.
This is where our hotel was so we showered and collapsed in the hotel for a bit. Then we bought a frisbee and a ball and played on the beach for hours!
This walk was interesting in that it was meant to connect people to nature and community and it turned out that the worst part of it was climbing up along constructed road surfaces. The non natural bit was unpleasant precisely because there was no connection with nature! The bush section was tough but at least there was some views and shade, you know, a little bit of nature!
There was a lot of art on the beach and one of the pieces, to me, exemplified what the day was all about. It was created by a group of first graders working with a group of sixth graders. It was connecting the two groups to spur conversation and collaboration.
In terms in local indigenous culture there was music and art, but there was also a stand with the stuff used in a traditional smoking ceremony on the table but on closer inspection it was related to aboriginal health services. This is probably one of the most important connections that can be made for an indigenous person, to ensure proper health care and services appropriate to them. The fact that a seperate service is necessary speaks to the historical and present challenges. It showed that connection is needed in all aspects of community. I dunno, it just made me think a bit.
So there was a lot to enjoy on this walk. There was the beaches, the lookouts, the bush tracks, the activities at each village, the entertainment, the art, the food, the fellow walkers and the fellow walkers four legged companions! Most of all I think the organisers did a great job trying to inject some meaning into the day and worked to find ways for folks to connect on the day and also, for the locals, to connect in the days leading up to it. I am so glad I did this walk. My son even started talking about doing it again next year(though I think he just wants another wristband!).
2 thoughts on “5 Lands Walk”
Yeah yeah it’s not all about smokin that wacky tobaccy down there on the Central Coast with all the hippies and free love on the sands and what not! Give the community a bit of a shake up with some culture, or even a bit of a leg over if they wanna go down that path LOL!!!! Hell yeah, forget about lights out, it’s game on my brother!!!!