Suggestions for Leaders
Enhancing Walks by describing History and Features
Walks are usually pretty good at any time, but the addition of interesting information along the way can enhance the walk significantly for the whole group. This extra information can be about anything, from the history of the area, or its geology, to the plants and animals we see along the way.
So where do you get all this information? The traditional sources are libraries. The club library is a good place to start (click here to see what is available), but there are lots of other resources available. If you haven't got the information at home, try the following -
1. Council Libraries - Shoalhaven City Council has libraries at Nowra, Milton, Ulladulla and Sanctuary Point, as well as a Mobile Library Service which visits smaller communities on a two-week schedule which is available from the council website. Membership is free to residents and ratepayers - to join, go to any library and take along some form of ID which shows your current address. Books are free to borrow, and you can keep them for four weeks at a time.
2. Google (or other search engines) - where would we be without search engines? For example, say you were doing a walk around Huskisson. Type "Huskisson" into Google and we find there are over 200,000 results. Search the results for "history" and there are only 43,000 results. The first result tells us that "The British Colonial Secretary after whom Huskisson is named is mainly remembered for the rather bizarre way in which he met his death. Only a few years after the tiny settlement was named after him, William Huskisson was run down and killed by George Stephenson's recently invented steam engine, the 'Rocket', at the opening of the Liverpool to Manchester railway line." This is just the sort of stuff that people like to hear!
3. Wikipedia is another excellent resource. Type Huskisson into Wikipedia and you find out about the town, as well as getting a link to William Huskisson. You can fascinate everyone on your walk by letting them know that William Huskisson was born at Birtsmorton Court in Worcestershire, and that he narrowly escaped being killed when a horse fell on him during his honeymoon.
4. The Shoalhaven City Council Website has all sorts of relevant information. For example, it has pages about shire history and statistics. It also has an excellent mapping facility showing all the private property boundaries and rights of way in the shire. The most recent topographic maps do not show property boundaries any more, so this facility can really help you find out where you can and cannot walk, or where you have to be really careful ...
5. Human Resources. During the walk, make use of the people on your walk. If there are experienced birdwatchers on the walk with you, ask them about the birds you see. If someone knows about the flora, ask them about the trees around you, or about any interesting flowers that you see. You could also ask people at the start of the walk whether they know any history of the area, or whether they have any anecdotes about previous walks done in the area. For example, if you were going to Wineglass Tor, you could ask Brett Davis about the time he led the same walk and never reached the Tor ...
6. Yourself. Make use of yourself too. What do you know that other people might not know? What specialities do you have that could enhance the walk? It does not even necessarily have to be walk related. Jock Finlayson, for example, knows bugger all history, couldn't tell a black-faced cuckoo-shrike from a dodo, and wouldn't know a woollybutt if it fell on him, but he does make great shortbread which he sometimes passes around at morning tea when he leads walks, greatly enhancing the enjoyment of all of his fellow walkers.
7. Improvise. If you can't find any information about history, about the flora or fauna, about the geology, or about incidents on previous walks - just do what Lauri Ball does ... make it up!
8. Lastly - and now we come to the most important information you can provide, and the most interesting places you can go on any bushwalk - trigs! If there is a trig on your walk, just get in touch with Karen Davis for some information, and the success of your walk will be guaranteed!