‘We encourage every entrant to represent a country. Maybe your country of origin? Let’s add some colour and culture to the weekend’
It’s On In ’21
A ceremony took place on Saturday, 12 December at the World Peace Bell in Nara Park to announce the inaugural Rotary Aussie Peace Walk.
Dr Michael Moore AM, District Governor of Rotary District 9705, began by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land, the Ngunnawal people. He stressed the importance of peace as one of Rotary International’s key areas of focus, citing several Rotary peace programs. In particular, he mentioned the Rotary Youth Exchange and the Rotary Global Peace Scholarship programs.
Coincidently, a current Global Peace Fellow, Elly Torres from Honduras, was in the audience. Elly is doing a double masters in peace studies at Queensland University. Currently in Canberra for a workplace internship with UN women.
Guest speakers, District Governor of Rotary District 9705, Dr Michael Moore AM, with Dr Marisa Paterson MLA, representing the ACT Chief Minister.
The ceremonial party left to right: MC, Michael Rabey, Rotary Club of Canberra Burley Griffin, Elly Torres, Rotary Peace Fellow from Honduras, Chris Edwards, Rotary Aussie Peace Walk Event Director, Dr Marisa Paterson MLA representing the ACT Chief Minister, Dr Michael Moore AM, Rotary Governor, District 9705 and past event organiser Diana Marshall of AussieWalk IVV.
Past organiser of the Canberra Two-Day Walk, Diana Marshall, of AussieWalk IVV, spoke about the history of the two-day walking event, first held in March 1992. She said she was excited to see how the event could be developed with the support of local Rotary clubs.
On behalf of the Rotary organising team, Event Director, Chris Edwards, explained a key component of the vision for the 2021 event;
‘By renaming the event the Rotary Aussie Peace Walk, we hope to create a colourful festival weekend focused on peace. And, because of travel restrictions, our overseas friends can’t get here, so we encourage every entrant, to choose a country to represent. It may be their place of origin or just a country they are passionate about. But to choose a country and bring a little of the culture of your chosen country to the event.’
Edwards announced that there would be prizes for individuals and teams that add to the multicultural feel of the event. There would also be incentives and prizes for participants that raise money for the event’s chosen charity, Rotary Oceania’s Give Every Child a Future.’ The first of these being a Romantic Weekend for Two donated by one of the event sponsors, Hotel Realm.
Dr Marisa Paterson MLA, said that representing one’s cultural heritage, wearing national colours or carrying a national flag is a marvellous idea to include an international presence at an event while COVID-19 restrictions remain in place.
‘Participants will be able to discover and explore some of the attractions, spectacular views and beautiful autumn weather Canberra has to offer through a range of walking distances and options to suit all levels of fitness.’
‘This unique two-day event will be a tourism driver. Through Rotary’s extensive networks it will attract participants from across Australia to our city at a critical time in Canberra’s economic recovery,’ she stated.
‘I encourage all Canberrans, from the young to the young-at-heart, to get behind this Rotary initiative, to get active, and ultimately support the health and well-being of 100,000 children in the Pacific Islands.’
Each of the four speakers spoke one line from a quote accredited to the Chinese philosopher Laozi before gonging the bell. Rotary Global Peace Fellow, Elly Torres was invited to join the ceremony and read the final line;
‘If there is to be peace in the home, there must be peace in the heart.’
They then invited attendees to come up onto the platform and repeat a line from Laozi before striking the bell.
Canberra Two-Day Walk founders, Harry and Kathleen Berg ring the Peace Bell.
Event Director Chris Edwards said, ‘It was fabulous to have the Bergs here today. The Two-Day Walk has always been underpinned by international peace and friendship. Although this will be the inaugural Rotary Aussie Peace Walk, it is also the 30th Canberra Two-Day Walk and when I saw them ring the bell, it felt as though they were entrusting us with their legacy. To me, it seemed to symbolise the end of one era and the beginning of the next.’
St Nicholas Walk
After the ceremony, a group of walkers made up of members of AussieWalk and Rotarians from a few local clubs, headed off for an 8km walk.
Traditionally, the AussieWalk IVV holds a walking event on this weekend each year to celebrate St Nicholas Day.
The group usually walks around the embassy district, wearing red and white Santa hats. As they usually stop outside the Dutch Embassy for a picnic and a brief reminder of the deeds of St Nicholas, before returning to the start.
This year, after regrouping outside the Dutch Embassy, the walkers continued back to the Peace Bell in Nara Park for a morning tea of fresh fruit and pastries donated by Supabarn, a key sponsor of the Rotary Aussie Peace Walk.
Not far from the World Peace Bell, walkers enter the natural bushland that can be found throughout the city. Walkers on the Sunday 7km and 12km walks will pass close to this spot.
What is The two-day challenge?
Everyone who completes the two-day challenge will get a special commemorative medal.
In 2021, Rotary celebrates 100 years of community service in Australia and New Zealand. The 2021 event will also be recognised as the 30th Canberra Two-Day Walk.
A special medal will be struck to commemorate the 1st Rotary Aussie Peace Walk on one side and the 30th Canberra Two-Day Walk on the other.
Each of the Sunday walks will pass this point.
Sunday walks include 7km, 12km and 24km.
You will walk past this point on Saturday in the 12km, 21km and 42km walks.
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