By Ellen Hill – Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism
Aboriginal art and culture, free bush tucker, entertainment and the chance to hear about a new and exciting bushwalking experience first at the official opening of the Bicentenary Festival of Walking at The Gully, Katoomba, on October 5.
The annual Blue Mountains, Lithgow & Oberon Tourism (BMLOT) festival will be held throughout the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region from October 5 to 13 and includes an extensive program of activities for all fitness levels from foodie, history and quirky walks to multi-day hard core treks through the wilderness.
The Bicentenary Festival of Walking is a celebration of the beauty of nature, the health and wellbeing benefits of walking, acknowledgement of Aboriginal custodianship and culture, and homage to the history, heritage and conservation of this special region.
The event has been organised by BMLOT in collaboration with The Gully Traditional Owners, Gundungurra Aboriginal Heritage Association, National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS), Blue Mountains City Council (BMCC) and other activity providers with funding support from Destination NSW.
The official festival opening will be held at the historically significant The Gully site at Katoomba from 9am to 1pm on October 5.
The day will include guided interpretive walks around The Gully, an Aboriginal chalk mural created on the old Catalina Raceway for children, an Aboriginal cultural exhibition in the gallery, face painting and the opportunity to meet and have photos taken with members of the Blue Mountains Blue Wave 1813 explorers re-enactment walk team.
NPWS will showcase walks across the World Heritage Area with the help of popular cuddly mascot Wanda the Wombat and other visitor information will be provided by BMCC and BMLOT.
Official proceedings from 10am to 11am will include a Welcome to Country, a traditional Aboriginal dance performance, the Junior Rangers Choir, opening of the Aboriginal Cultural Experience Guide for the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, opening of an iconic upper Blue Mountains bushwalk to rival the great walks of the world and the opening of the latest series of Bushtrackers guides (walks for kids by kids) including one for The Gully.
Visitors to the site on the day will then be treated to a bush tucker lunch and refreshments.
BMLOT chairman Randall Walker said: “We thank The Gully Traditional Owners and Gundungurra Aboriginal Heritage Association for the opportunity to showcase the wonderful new indigenous cultural experience at The Gully at the opening of the festival.
“This will be a fantastic day for the whole family to take in the fresh air and learn more about the World Heritage Area, individuals and organisations which care for it and the marvellous activities they can take part in during the festival and beyond.
“You can’t possibly choose just one activity during the festival, so why not stay a night or two?’’
After activities conclude at 1pm, visitors will have an opportunity to walk with the Blue Mountains Blue Wave 1813 explorers re-enactment walk team at 2pm at Wild Valley Art Park, Wentworth Falls.
The Bicentenary Festival of Walking opening will be held at The Gully, Warriga St (off Gates Ave), Katoomba, from 10am to 1pm on Saturday, October 5. Cost: FREE.
Beginning just three years ago, last year the festival attracted more than 2000 recognised participants. This year, it is anticipated that because of the bicentenary and growing awareness of the festival there will be more than 5000 recognised participants.
Go to www.festivalofwalking.com.au for Festival of Walking information and bookings.
Go to www.visitbluemountains.com.au for accommodation information and bookings.