2020 Convenors Report

2020 has been a wild ride for many people. The year started for GWN with the Summer Camp at Boranup Maze, where we walked and swam every day, before we moved to our Tribal Grounds. We made plans for both the Easter walk and the Spring walk, elected a new Committee and I left  with my passion for saving the forest reinvigorated.


Through our alliance with WAFA we were alerted to a blockade at Helm’s, near Nannup, in late January and I, along with other GWN members, supported, until the world went pear-shaped in late March and we were told to isolate in our homes. Unfortunately the Forest Products Commission was designated an essential industry so, while we were locked in our homes, the destruction continued and escalated. By the time we were allowed to move they were clearing a section that had been excised from the National Park in Dalgarup, between Bridgetown and Nannup. A group of us, from a variety of environmental groups,  were activated and our actions resulted in the cessation of logging.


As a result of Covid restrictions we were forced to cancel our Dwellingup Walk, reconnoitered by Ann Leah and planned for April. Joanne Toovey proposed a Winter Walk in July to Kalbarri and did a wonderful job of coordinating a walk that was well-attended, putting money in the bank and reducing our costs for the year. 


We undertook the Dwellingup Walk in October and we not only saw the beauty of the Northern Jarrah forests, but also the devastation created by the Bauxite Mining Industry. Fiona Wheeler helped coordinate this camp using the groundwork set by Ann. Pia and I drove from the camp to Leederville where we attended a meeting at Outdoors WA. Dave Osbourne, the President of Hikewest, (which is the umbrella Organisation we are insured under), gave a presentation detailing the extent of the new lease applications for the mine, the effect of mining on outdoor recreation and the limited success of regeneration efforts.(We were not permitted to see these areas when we were at camp.) I have made a number of submissions on GWN’s behalf as well as circulating information. I also was blessed by the attendance of two of my sons as well as my daughter in law.


The Tribal Grounds has continued to be overseen by Wally. It has also been utilised by WAFA for training and over  the period of the regional lockdown a group sheltered there. There was some angst during this time as a result of the psychological stress suffered by many in our community, and this resulted in a run of mad emails, accusing and slandering GWN members.I have treated this as compassionately as possible and organised offers of professional support as it is outside my personal expertise.  I have fully investigated the allegations and I am certain that the accusations were untrue, however we will be holding a healing ceremony at the Tribal Grounds on the 12th December 2020 to cleanse and reconnect.


GWN supported and participated in the creation of the film Cry of the Forests, directed by Jane Hammond. This fantastic and moving film has won awards and is currently being shown around Western Australia I recommend all members see the movie. GWN is acknowledged in the credits and you will see some of our members flash past onscreen.


I am an original member of the Nannas for Native Forests and we met with Dave Kelly, the Minister for Forestry, on Tuesday 24th November 2020. I spotted Great Walkers in the crowd and heard them scream when I mentioned GWN. In 1988 I was 26 years old with a baby, and I joined the walk thinking we could save the forest. All these years later that baby has babies of his own and I realise we still haven’t. The objects of the Great Walk are as relevant today as they were then and I only hope we can save and enjoy what is left of our unique Australian landscape as well as continue to grow The Great Walk and maintain its relevance. We have been walking for 32 years and I think we will continue to walk for the forests and for ourselves as a community for many more years.