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Media release by Rosemary Cadden and photograph courtesy Rosey Boehm.

They walked, backpacked, rode on horseback and camel, travelled by wheelchair, cycle and horse-drawn wagon. Along the way they collected mementoes, took photographs, met new friends and made momentous decisions about their life post-WomenTrekólike the 39-year-old who took the saying "life begins at 40" to heart and decided finally to leave the job she hated and take a new pathóleading to who knows where.

Seven hundred girls and women, aged from 10 months to 80 plus, took part in the three-month WomenTrek relay along the 1000 kilometre length of the Heysen Trail. One hundred more had to be turned away, as the various sections quickly filled to capacity.

"WomenTrek not only captured the imagination of the participants - it took hold of them," said Deb Nanschild, internationally recognised outdoor educator and leader, the force behind the mammoth event.

With grants from Recreation SA, Foundation SA and the Women's Suffrage Centenary Steering Committee, Deb and Chris Hales from YWCA of Adelaide had just 18 weeks to organise the event, pulling together a band of 40 leaders and 30 support drivers.

Finally, WomenTrek 94 was launched on July 23 on the steps of Parliament House by the Federal Minister for Family Services Senator Rosemary Crowley.

Before setting off for Parachilna Gorge in the Flinders Ranges for the first three-day section to Bunyeroo Gorge, the first group of Trekkers, were presented with a copy of the original petition for suffrage and a contemporary Charter of Women's Demands which was used as a baton, passed from group to group as they walked the Heysen Trail.

Over the next three months, relays of Trekkers passed through country towns, such as Hawker, Melrose, Spalding and Burra, many using their arrival to herald their own celebrations of the Women's Suffrage Centenary.

Two months later, the Hon. Anne Levy, MLC, one of the first to register for the Trek herself, launched the section starting from Cape Jervis on September 16 stating "what a wonderful way to celebrate being a woman."

"Women have claimed the Heysen Trail back!" laughed Wendy Willow, a grand daughter of Sir Hans Heysen, who became hooked on WomenTrek after completing the first 10 days from Blinman to Bunyeroo Gorge, part of it on camel, and re-registered to complete this south section.

Journey's end came on October 9 when trekkers from north and south converged in the Mount Lofty Botanic Garden.


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This page last updated on Friday 11 April, 2014 15:16



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