Great West Walk wins community initiative of the year

The launch of the Great West Walk in October 2019 was attended by community volunteers and government dignitaries including The Hon Rob Stokes, Parramatta Lord Mayor Andrew Wilson, and Blacktown City Council Mayor Tony Bleasdale OAM.

Western Sydney’s stunning 65km walking track stretching from Parramatta to the Blue Mountains has been recognised as the top community initiative in NSW and ACT.

Western Sydney Local Health District has congratulated Blacktown City Council’s Recreation Planning and Design team for taking out the Community Based Initiative of the Year award for the Great West Walk.

The council’s contribution to the establishment and delivery of the Great West Walk in Western Sydney was acknowledged at the recent Parks and Leisure Australia NSW/ACT Awards of Excellence.

Open since October 2019, the trail traverses a varied landscape of protected Cumberland Plain woodland, local river systems, public parklands, Australia’s oldest architecture, and some of Western Sydney’s most iconic urban landscapes. 

The Walking Volunteers are behind the incredible initiative.

Developed by community group, The Walking Volunteers, and created in collaboration between landowners, councils and governing bodies, the Great West Walk shows what can be achieved when government and community work together to tackle obesity in western Sydney, said Western Sydney Diabetes director Professor Glen Maberly.

“We know from routine diabetes testing conducted at Blacktown and Mount Druitt emergency departments, that nearly half of western Sydney is affected by or at risk of type 2 diabetes,” Prof Maberly said.

“Being overweight or obese plays a key role in increasing your chance of getting type 2 diabetes.

“By making walking your regular physical activity, it is possible to lose some excess kilos, prevent diabetes, reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke and improve your blood pressure and cholesterol.”

The walk has become a community favourite in the 11 months since its official opening.

WSLHD worked with the council and project partners including the Walking Volunteers, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils, Penrith City Council, Parramatta City Council, and Western Sydney Parklands Trust.

Blacktown City Mayor Tony Bleasdale OAM congratulated the council’s Recreation Planning and Design team on the accolade.

“The Great West Walk puts on display some of the fascinating and diverse landscapes we have here in Blacktown City,” Mayor Bleasdale said.

“This wonderful walking route not only showcases our area and the wider beauty of Western Sydney, but also inspires people to get out into the natural environment and to stay active.

“I encourage Blacktown City residents and visitors alike to try the walk for themselves and to experience the unique natural and built landmarks of our great City.”

The Blacktown section of the walk starts from McCoy Street, Seven Hills, at the railway overbridge and continues through Marayong, Doonside, Rooty Hill, Mount Druitt, Whalan and Tregear, taking in parts of the Western Sydney Parklands, Nurragingy Reserve, Whalan Reserve and Wianamatta Regional Park.

Blacktown City Council’s Great West Walk submission will now be the representative for NSW/ACT at the national Parks and Leisure Australia awards in October.