Social media power leads Illawarra Branch and Bushwalk the ‘Gong to decide to work together to launch a Walk of the Month program in the Illawarra.

For a few years, the NPA has been offering a Sydney based Walk of the Month program in conjunction with Wildwalks.com. The walks are advertised to the public through the internet and this magazine. Illawarra Branch have been keen to replicate this program in our region with the view to promoting bushwalking, enjoyment and knowledge of the Illawarra bushland.

The branch has been watching with interest the success of a new local initiative called Bushwalk the ‘Gong which was established in 2016 and has enjoyed good local media coverage. Recently an opportunity arose for us to join forces with Bushwalk the ‘Gong to offer a Walk of the Month style program in the Illawarra. We expect this will widen the participation and reach of the branch.

NPA member and founder of Bushwalk the ‘Gong, Jenae Johnston, has enjoyed a successful 2016 with a rapid uptake of support and media interest in her program of local walks for young people and families. In less than a year her social media following has grown to nearly 4,000 followers. They are able to see Jenae’s photography, videos and detailed blogs about the Illawarra’s natural landscapes.

NPA Illawarra and Bushwalk the ‘Gong have been in discussions for several months now, sharing experiences and ideas on how to best incorporate the two for a mutually beneficial partnership. Meeting Jenae has given us a great opportunity. She’s used her initiative and talent to launch a program of walks that are targeted at a different group from our own. She has gathered an amazing number of supporters and set up an excellent Facebook page and blog. We plan to have some active cross-over, including advertising of NPA events and providing conservation commentary on Bushwalk the ‘Gong’s social media posts.

Jenae says, “it’s a privilege and an honour to work with the NPA. It’s wonderful that there’s a local association actively protecting and encouraging the development and maintenance of safe and beautiful walking trails. As we work together we’ll be able to share knowledge and expertise by providing accurate information and education to locals. More people will then be able to make informed decisions about the local environment, its preservation and general appreciation and enjoyment.”

The partnership will provide an introduction for new bushwalkers to learn to enjoy the activity in a safe way. Bushwalk the ‘Gong will provide guided walks in parallel with the NPA’s existing regular program. Planning for the first walks is well underway and will appear in both the NPA program and on Bushwalk the ‘Gong’s social media pages.

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