It’s the end of another year and many of us are getting bushfires for Xmas. We just completed the Great Walk of Peace (GWOP) in 40 degree heat and I’m feeling a little depleted after my drive back home to my forest. However, I look back on the last year, and the last 31 and a half years we have been walking together, and I see the beauty of it all despite the insanity that surrounds us. Our Objectives state that we are to balance personal and community development with environmental activism, and that is what I have been trying to do this year.

Our walk into Perth was surreal. We swam in the river and walked the roads, finally arriving to collapse in the park until it was cool enough to join Extinction Rebellion in the city. We walked through the streets looking for them, and at one stage ended up in a department store at the end of a mall, being assessed by security and all the shoppers frantically shopping, as that’s what you do at Xmas. The shops were airconditioned, the air outside was oppressive and we were obviously the mad ones as we exited into it again.

The welcome was lovely and we gathered and spoke, and danced, in Forrest Place. I gave a bit of a spiel about the forests, the three end to end Bibbulmun Great Walks that I have done and what I have seen, and then we went and celebrated and slept on Herrison Island with the permission of the traditional custodians. They conducted a traditional welcome and Delly Stokes (WAMI award winner from “Coloured Stone) played and sang in his language for us. Emmanuelle fed all 32 of us and a quiet celebration continued into the night. Fox did a fantastic job with the organisation of this walk and our support and involvement of the GWOP is an example of the actions we need to mentor in order to continue, and maintain relevance, for the next 31 years.

GWN has joined the West Australian Forest Alliance (WAFA) and I am on the committee. I am working with them to monitor forestry activity and take appropriate action where we can. This was demonstrated this year when we had a planning weekend with WAFA at our Tribal Grounds, followed by an action at Simcoa to prevent them burning forest to power their silicone plant. John Vukovich once again put himself at the forefront of the action and his words were admirable in articulating the purpose of the protest.

In the sense of personal development and community building we had a wonderful Cape to Cape walk, organised by Wally. We had many Great Walkers from the past rejoin us, as well as new, younger walkers. We walked 135 km along the South West Coast and created many memories together. Six of us walked end to end and there were 49 of us altogether, a return to the numbers of our early walks.

In an organisational context we are also looking healthy. The website is updated, the facebook page is active, we have over 80 paid members, the Tribal Grounds have been well maintained by Wally and we have money in the bank. The Summer Camp is in the forests we love and my only wish is that we have more people who want to be involved with decision making and actively creating the GWN that I joined nearly 32 years ago.