“I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits unless I— Henry David Thoreau, “Walking, and the Wild”.
spend four hours a day at least — and it is commonly more
than that — sauntering through the woods and over the hills
and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements. […]
the walking of which I speak has nothing in it akin to taking
exercise, as it is called, as the sick take medicine at stated
This essay is a beautifully crafted articulation of the art of walking. The writers shine a light and then position a looking glass on the simple act of walking. They are gently exhorting us to reject technology for walking purposes and revisit what it means to be human. We are at a unique time in evolution where we are being challenged by technocrats to change the old ways and let these new tools become our master. Our challenge in the Order of Walkers is to maintain the course of the old ways and so nurture a simple, small footprint, satisfying life.
Of course the irony of walking is not lost on me. You go out walking to think. You think of great ideas around technology, which distorts the purpose and purposelessness of walking in the future.
I commend this essay to the Order and may you dwell on its sentiments when you next take the path.
I commend this work by Clive Austin to the Order.
I commend this piece to the Order.
This essay by Canadian, Tian Ren Chu, is a grand articulation of both the importance and joy of walking. Discussing and promulgating the connection to nature, is critical to future generations. You don’t destroy the things you love. You fight for them. It appears tech companies want us to walk around with ear pieces and phones, and be servant to trivial notifications. I fear this is creating social isolation and divide. We are in danger of losing what it is to be human. I commend this piece to the Order of Walkers and I commend the practise to all.
As the car made its way up the tarmac ribbon that runs from Harrietville to the top of Mt Hotham, the setting sun filtered its way through the trees. One of the intrepid hikers aboard took a moment to enjoy the comfort he would leave behind for the next few days. He closed his eyes and smiled, enjoying the dysrhythmic dance of light and shade being performed upon his eyelids.
In time the car climbed above the snowline and disgorged its occupants. They stood on the slopes of the broad mountain looking across the ridge to the north, the left hand side of their faces painted a gentle orange by the hazy orb that hung so low in the sky it seemed beneath them.
The Razorback – the ridge upon which they would be walking was well named as each undulation that rose along it bore an undeniable resemblance to the lumbar joint of a giant. The spine of this sleeping titan stretched far out into the distance, crowned by a steep conical peak ten kilometres away – Mt Feathertop.
With nary of word said among them, the group of five shouldered their packs and set off down the track that led along the ridge. Such was the ethereal calm that soon fell over the party that conversation seemed an unnecessary ornament to the occasion. In the distance the occasional cry of an unseen bird was all that could be heard beyond the crunching footfall of the five men.
The world – the other world, full of demands and denials became hard to perceive, hidden behind the veil of nature that had been drawn around them. Payrolls and pay rises seemed inconsequential as the soft light of dusk gave way to the clarity of night. To the west the sun fell below the horizon as a hunter’s moon rose in the east. Up the centre of the celestial equilibrium walked the hikers, each man in his own headspace, interpreting the outlook in his own way.
The stars came out so slowly, no-one was sure when they had first appeared. Of course, they had always been there, even in the daytime, staring down dispassionately from the heavens. But they did not seem indifferent to the walkers – they were as benevolent as the maternal moon which lit the way across shards of granite and mounds of loam that lay across the track.
In the cooling alpine air, a faint umbra encircled the moon, a halo upon the head of the walkers’ guide. The line of men stretched out and the distance between the fastest and slowest walker grew to half an hour. And yet despite this space, there was a unity that had enveloped the group. A unity of purpose and of place. They had separated themselves from bricks and steel of the city and were now a part of the sublime architecture of the Australian bush. Although the path ahead could be seen for miles – literally – each step taken uncovered a unique perspective upon the land before them. Subtle changes in mountainscape rewarded their labours: little moonlit dells and wooded enclaves were glimpsed at; an unseen brook played a delicate tune somewhere beyond a copse of thin, dark trees; a line of rocks resembling hunched trolls appeared and disappeared like Celtic spirits. And whilst they walked across this surreal stage, each man’s thoughts gradually turned inward, persuaded there by the peace that lay upon the land. Their ruminations they kept to themselves – it was not their way to share such things – but one thing was clear by the time the last man walked into the campsite below Mt Feathertop – all had found that special peace known to people who venture out into the wilderness. Without articulating it each man had been reminded of the secret that all hikers know – the further one goes out into the natural world, the more he travels towards himself.
Paul Stewart is an educator, writer, walker and talker. He can do some of these things at the same time. Paul spends his working days as Head of Middle School English at Melbourne Grammar School and the rest of his time is spent enjoying friends, family and the world at large.
A simple omission on my behalf, a typo, an awareness deficit. We are walking on something. Sometimes it’s crunchy, sometimes sandy, sometimes muddy, sometimes hard and jagged. An unconscious connection is made with each stride. The humble blister is formed on a foot to remind you that you walk on a sacred ancient land and you better think about how you do it.
It’s the stuff beneath our feet, it means something to the Order of Walkers and it means something to Australian first nations people.
I am always disappointed when I reach the fence that is loudly signed “Trespassers Prosecuted”. Why would they want to prosecute me for just passing through. I am a walker not a thief. I can only imagine the patience first nations people all around the world must have as they journey around their traditional homelands looking at these petty barriers as a metaphor for the larger issue.
The last stanza of The Uluru Statement From The Heart reads
“In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.”
Head over to https://www.1voiceuluru.org/ and browse the site. You might find it’s a good walk to do.
Author Jono Lineen has recently released a new book entitled “Perfect Motion”. Core business for the Order of Walkers. He talks to Hilary Harper on Radio National about his pursuit.
“A bad day for the ego is a good day for the soul”
This is a quote from one of the walkers in the documentary and is the first time I have heard it.
At times it felt voyeuristic to be watching the raw honesty of these pilgrims as their camino unraveled. The cinematography is beautiful. Core business for the Order. I enjoyed this documentary