It’s strange to think that I discovered one of the most beautiful ways to connect people to land and culture in my own back yard on the Central Coast of NSW, Australia.
It’s amazing what you discover when you wear travel glasses instead of those jaded by years of the sameness.
It’s called the Five Lands Walk and is held every June, shortly after winter solstice.
It is a 10km cultural, spiritual and physical journey covering five major beach villages of the Central Coast, starting at MacMasters Beach, migrating through Copacabana Beach, Avoca and North Avoca Beach before ending at Terrigal Beach.
The 5 Lands Walk is a spiritual ceremony created to welcome the coming of warmer seasons and longer days.
It’s also the time of the year when the humpback whales migrate north.The humpback whale is the totem of the Darkinjung people of the Central Coast and so an important symbolism of the celebration.
This year the walk was held on the busiest whale migration day.
They swam alongside us out beyond the cliffs blowing their sprouts and waving their flukes. They provide respite at the Captain Cook Lookout after a slightly strenuous hill climb.
Well, strenuous if you are carrying a 12kg child on your back.
The Five Lands Walk celebrates the diverse cultural communities that make up each of the five beaches.
The Aboriginal culture is the common thread that unites the Five Lands and so at each beach Aboriginal dances, art work, and cultural artifacts are on display, and a smoking gum blessing is performed.
I got a little carried away wrapping myself in the Eucalyptus smoke and almost singed my eyes out.
Tears streamed down my face and I blindly groped my way through the crowds for a smoke free space. I could barely make out the Latino band from Ecuador sharing their home tunes.
This year the different beaches celebrated the Chinese, Latino, Irish, African and Filipino cultures. You can try some of their food, watch dances and music performances and buy some of their crafted wares.
There was also Australian wildlife on display for the kids including an echidna, snakes, and this cute koala.
Last year, I did not do the walk as I was recovering from surgery. I drove from beach to beach meeting up with Craig and picking up Kalyra when she tired. This year, we enjoyed the walk together.
We watched the starting ceremony at McMasters, and after the smoking blessing, we followed the pied piper down to the beach.
We picked up a paper Chinese lantern and snake and laid it further down the beach at the end of the line. It was a symbol of how our story was a part of the greater one being made today.
The surf was wild and the crowds jovial. Friends, partners, and families came together to enjoy the sunshine, the stunning coastal scenery, and the cultural uniqueness and unity of this great land.
The walk is fairly gentle (unless you have a child on your back walking on soft sand) and there are several long steady climbs, up and down, and a couple of short steep sections with rough tracks and steps.
We weren’t too long in before Kalyra demanded a seat on Daddy’s shoulders and the whining started.
Savannah weighed down mine in the hiking carrier, but tried to ease some of that by rubbing my shoulders and singing me little songs.
I didn’t think we were going to get too far with them, but after a short whale watching break, Kalyra found her rhythm and walked quite a long way to Avoca Beach.
It was all thanks to the mud. It captured her attention enough to make her keep going.
By the time we reached Avoca Beach, the halfway point, we knew the girls had reached their limits. My back had too. So we played instead by the water.
We jumped on the shuttle bus to skip to the end at Terrigal Beach.
The best way to end such a fabulous day was with a cup of hot coffee by the beach and watch the storm clouds roll in.
I think we timed it perfectly.
The Five Lands Walk is such a peaceful and special way to connect people to people and people to land. It’s also proud to claim it as being a wallet free day!
I highly recommend anyone travelling to, or living in, Sydney to schedule it into their calendar as a worthwhile event.
The Central Coast is just over an hour north of Sydney. The area is so stunning and not explored much by those on the tourist trail.
I invite you to put the travel glasses on and be surprised.