It’s winter. That time of year we tend to forget about until June rolls around. By July we have remembered that it is not, in fact, sunny every day in Western Australia! However, there are some definite perks of the West Australian winter. When it is not raining (which in reality is most of the time) we don’t have to hide from the sun. We can make plans for midday without worrying about it being too hot, too sunny, not enough shade. This is particularly brilliant if you have a child that naps twice a  day – that midday window is your time!

It is not reliably dry in winter here and, compared to the rest of the year, this can make it challenging for outdoor activity.Cancelled play dates. Weekends indoors. And if your kids are anything like mine, you need to get outdoors in winter as much as you do in summer. We tend to flock to the library and play centres.

However, there are a few outdoor activities that are better in winter. And no, I am not talking about surfing! Family activities.  The colder weather, less intense sunshine, and the rain turn our hiking and walking trails from barren dryness into beautiful lush spaces. As a hiker, I love the winter. We don’t need to be up at the crack of dawn to get out there, and I don’t need to carry six litres of water for a one hour hike.

Hiking as a family activity?

Some of you might be already thinking about how far your children can walk, or will walk. But our trails here in Perth are diverse and multi-use. Hiking might mean day packs with your kids. Or in a carrier. Stroller. Bikes and scooters. Hiking might be urban or wilderness. Or urban wilderness.

There are so many hiking trails to access here in Perth; you can head on over to trails.wa.com.au for a comprehensive list of everything you need to know to get out there with your family. Trails WA also have an app.

This article probably could have ended there with a conclusion that hiking is a fantastic family activity in winter. But here is the thing. I have known about all of these trails for a long time. I have been slowing picking away at them – but never as much as I would like. I love hiking, and I have all the gear.  But I have just not been getting out there with the kids, certainly not as often as I would like.  Why?

The answer came to me as I was sitting at a BBQ in a friend’s backyard. A number of them are runners: trail runners, adventure racers, ultra runners. I am not. I am a hiker. So I was tuning in and out of the conversation. Until a comment was made that struck me. A friend was saying that he planned to sign up for a race so it would motivate him to get back into running regularly. If he signed up for something and had a GOAL, then he knew he would start and stick with his training. And the other runners in the group? They all agreed.

It got me thinking; while I don’t think my kids and I need a hiking competition, wouldn’t it be great if there was something similar? Something that would give us a goal, and keep us accountable? A framework, a guide, a structure to get out and explore our local trails?

The Parkerville Trail Challenge

What is the Parkerville Trail Challenge?

The Trail Challenge is an opportunity to support an important cause while experiencing Perth’s hiking trails. As an individual or a group, you can choose from a variety of trails to walk. Location, distance, and level of difficulty of all walks are provided as part if the challenge. Enjoy the benefits of being in nature, exercising and building relationships as you walk; knowing your participation is making a difference to vulnerable children, youth and families affected by abuse. There is a trail for everyone.

There are 11 trails to choose from in the challenge. Participants are welcome to walk the same trail multiple times or explore around and walk all the featured trails another day! Participants are given long on access to record their walks and track their progress!

The Inspiration of the Trail Challenge

Local business owner of MiCasa Property and community activist Sue Pember dreamed up this challenge while hiking with her family. Already an advocate for Parkerville, she wanted to find a  way the community could provide some support,  that would also benefit the individual families and businesses participating. Hiking and walking are fantastic activities to do as a family, with friends, or as an office sponsored activity.  It is a way to be active, outdoors, and together; all essential elements of a healthy lifestyle.  Many of the Trail Challenge walks are accessible for wheeled transportation devices, like strollers, bikes, scooters, wheelchairs, and buggies.

What is Parkerville?

Parkerville Children and Youth Care is a well-established organisation with 115 years’ experience supporting vulnerable children, young people, adults and their families in Western Australia. Their mission is to protect, care, advocate and promote recovery for children and young people who have experienced trauma from abuse, to support families and to work with the community to prevent child abuse.

The money raised from Trail Challenge for Parkerville Children and Youth Care 2018 will go towards building the Stan and Jean Perron Child Advocacy Centre in Midland, directly helping WA’s most vulnerable youth.

After meeting with Sue, I went home and signed up. Our first walk was a section of the Melville Waters walk. It runs from Canning Bridge to the Fremantle Traffic Bridge. We focused on the part that runs thought Point Walter, including the wilderness walk about Blackwall Reach. With its gorgeous views and hidden beaches, this trail feels like you are hidden away in the bush. As the main path is paved, it is fully accessible and can be tackled with a stroller.

The trails are spread around the greater Perth area, as seen in the map below.

If you would like to set a goal and join the challenge, you can do so here.

Make a real difference, take the challenge.

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Kris Peter

Kristine Peter is a Canadian expat who is celebrating 11 years living in Australia. Formally an Outward Bound Instructor and, more recently, Project Manager in Community Development and Mental Health, she started Healthy On The Go in mid-2017. The mission of Healthy On The Go is to support families and individuals to make simple healthy lifestyle changes, while creating a flexible employment opportunity to allow her to be with her family. Kris lives in Bicton with her husband and two young children.You can follow Healthy on the Go on Facebook Facebook