The Rotary Aussie Peace Walk will be held on 27-28 March this year, and organisers are calling for people to take on the challenge and enter a team – from businesses, sporting clubs, community groups and schools – with everyone encouraged to represent their cultural heritage.
However, the event is not a race, and event director Chris Edwards says its intention is to bring people together and break down barriers, encouraging participants to connect while they walk and generate conversations.
Chris is the youngest of a unique group known as The City2Surf Legends, men who have run the famous Sydney city to Bondi fun run 49 times.
“When you’re participating in a running event, you’re usually focused on your own performance, not on the people around you,” he says.
“I’ve noticed that at the end of the City2Surf, people talk to each other a lot because they’ve put themselves through a 14km run together so there’s a connection that breaks down all barriers.
“So the idea is that if you’re going to do a walk, then back it up and do it the next day, people will be on the same journey and more likely to talk with each other. We want people to take their time, meet people, amble along and have conversations, talk to each other and make some new connections.”
The Rotary Aussie Peace Walk will donate proceeds from the event to Rotary’s Give Every Child a Future project, which aims to improve the health of 100,000 children in nine Pacific Island nations.
There will also be quite a few prizes, says Chris.
“Hotel Realm [in Canberra] has donated a romantic weekend for two, which will go to a person who has raised more than $1000, and there will be prizes for people that get into the spirit of the challenge, with volunteers around the route voting for teams,” he says.
“There’ll be a prize for a junior team, a work team and a community group team. There might be a few individual ones, too – they will all be for people who stand out and get into the spirit of it.”
The Rotary Aussie Peace Walk will begin on Friday, 26 March, when Governor-General of Australia His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC will ring the Canberra Rotary World Peace Bell in Nara Park at 4:30 pm, followed by a Rotary Centenary Peace Dinner at the National Museum of Australia, with guest speaker the Honourable Dr Brendan Nelson AO.
The peace walks will be held across two days, with 7km, 12km, 21km and 42km walks scheduled for Saturday, 27 March, and 7km, 12km and 24km walks scheduled for Sunday, 28 March. Participants are encouraged to enter one walk on each day, with routes around Lake Burley Griffin, starting at the Canberra Rotary World Peace Bell. The year 2021 is the Centenary of Rotary in Australia, and peace is a fundamental pillar of the organisation’s focus.
“Everybody is exactly the same when you break it down – we all want to be loved, to be appreciated and feel recognised for the work we do and have equal opportunity, have a roof over our head,” says Chris.
“It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, those are the fundamental things. Everyone deserves that because we’re essentially all the same. That’s our focus for the weekend.
“When you challenge yourself with long walks such as these, you see your fellow entrants as people rather than as a policeman, public servant or alien. We want to see lots of teams representing different organisations and community groups, whether it’s a business, a soccer club, a multicultural group or a dance troupe, it is the people who will make this a successful moving festival.”
If you wish to enter a team, head to Rotary Aussie Peace Walk. For further information, or to contact a Rotary Club in your area, click here or email the Rotary Aussie Peace Walk organising committee.