17 November 2022

These Belconnen men meet every Saturday to walk and talk - the results are lifesaving

| James Coleman
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Four men taking a selfie

Craig Durbidge and the crew from The Man Walk Belconnen. Photo: Craig Durbidge.

A group of men will set off on a walk around Lake Ginninderra this Saturday with one objective: talk.

‘The Man Walk’ will take place across Australia on 19 November to mark International Men’s Day.

Founded in Kiama in 2018 by a bunch of local mates who saw the benefit of walking around the harbour together, Man Walks have taken off across the country to get men to share what’s weighing on their minds.

Belconnen resident Craig Durbidge first heard about the initiative in October 2020.

“One of my close friends had died unexpectedly and I was having a sort of mental breakdown,” he says.

“I began looking at ways I could get myself out of the depression, so I approached the organisers and offered to start the Belconnen Man Walk.”

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Since then, a group of five or so has gathered in front of the Lighthouse Pub on Emu Bank every Saturday at 7 am for a relaxed walk and talk around the lake. The 5 km walk takes about an hour.

“It definitely helped,” Craig says.

“I think men can find it hard to talk to each other. There are a lot of mental health organisations promoting the idea that ‘it’s not weak to speak’, but there’s still a high rate of suicide among men.”

According to the latest statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), 8.6 Australians die every day by suicide – double the road toll. Up to 75 per cent of those who suicide are male.

“A lot of it has to do with a generational thing, but there’s a lot of other reasons why men don’t want to share their feelings, such as loneliness and not having someone to talk to,” Craig says.

The topics don’t have to be serious, either.

“It’s whatever anyone brings up. It’s about coming along, meeting other people, and talking about anything – work, life, weather, sport. It’s just about opening up to someone.”

Since the first walk in 2020, the group has been joined by men from all backgrounds, from those going through divorces and relationship issues to those just wanting to try something new.

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“There are so many different reasons why people come along.”

Damien Clarke is on the organising committee for The Man Walk Australia. He says if the last two years have taught us anything, it’s about how getting outdoors, exercising and spending time with others are crucial for all aspects of health.

“COVID taught us all a tough lesson, but one of the positives to come from the pandemic was the positive impacts we saw from connecting with your local community,” he says.

“This is exactly why The Man Walk has been such a resounding success around the country.”

Six men with a banner

Craig Durbidge, organiser of The Man Walk Belconnen. Photo: Craig Durbidge.

Further south in Tuggeranong, a group meets outside Bunnings every Wednesday at 6:30 am for the same purpose.

The Man Walk Belconnen starts from The Waterfront on Soundy Close (outside of Lighthouse Pub) at Lake Ginninderra this Saturday (19 November) at 7 am. There is no need to register.

Visit The Man Walk Belconnen, or The Man Walk Tuggeranong for more information.

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