5 Lands Walk
Thousands of people take part in the 5 Lands Walk, where you’ll discover stunning scenery, meet local Indigenous people and celebrate the community.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the 5 Lands Walk, an extraordinary community event that was originally inspired by the famous Cinque Terre hiking trail on the Italian Riviera.
The first 5 Lands Walk, back in 2006, attracted about 200 local enthusiasts – in 2019 more than 22,000 people from all over NSW turned out for the 10-kilometre walk that connects five coastal villages between Macmasters Beach and Terrigal. The 2021 event – a day-long celebration of art, dance, Indigenous ceremonies, surf culture, food and music on June 26 – promises to be bigger than ever.
“It’s not a race,” says Pauline Wright, one of the organisers. “You can do the whole walk, jump on a shuttle bus between beaches or just check out what’s happening at any one of the places along the way. However, completing the walk certainly maximises the experience.
“It’s all about taking a journey at your own pace through and with the communities of the Central Coast, experiencing their diverse cultural offerings and the landscape they live in.” Indigenous people from the 5 Lands will be present throughout the walk, sharing their cultural understanding of the country, its environment and its spiritual significance to us all.
And by the way, there is no entry fee or charge to jump on the shuttle buses – the 5 Lands Walk is a “gift from the community to the broader community”.
The spectacular multi-media Opening Ceremony kicks off at 5pm on Friday June 25 at Avoca Beach. Overseen by well-known composer and filmmaker Yantra de Vilder, the ceremony will feature the 50-piece Ephemera Choir, some of the Coast’s finest musicians and a host of multicultural performers. Expect an entertaining and highly interactive evening!
1. Macmasters Beach
5 Lands Walk starts at Macmasters Beach Surf Life Saving Club, a popular community hub set on land that was an important occupation site and meeting place for the Darkinjung people. On Saturday June 26 the registration desk at Macs will open at 7.15am, and earlybirds get to dig into the famous free breakfast, which starts about 7.30am and is limited to the first 550 walkers. At 8am, the Beginning Ceremony starts on the grounds of the Surf Club.
You’ll be Welcomed to Darkinjung Country and entertained by the talented children from Kincumber Public School and pre-schoolers from Imagine@MacMasters, and local performers will be busking around the surf club. Cleanse your spirit in the Aboriginal smoking ceremony as you start your journey along the beach, where you’ll see art installations and The Beginning of Macmasters Beach photo exhibition on the sand.
The second stage of the walk is Copacabana, known by residents in early European settlement days as Tudibaring (an Aboriginal word meaning ‘where the waves pound like a beating heart’). It was also known as Judi Barn, Allagai (‘a place of snakes’), Kincumber and Macs – today, everyone calls it Copa.
The walk is held on the Saturday closest to the winter solstice when humpback whales, a significant totem of the Darkinjung people, are migrating north. Captain Cook Lookout on the headland above Copacabana is a top whale-watching spot, so there’s a good chance you’ll see the mighty marine mammals swimming past on their way to Queensland.
Local naturalist and whale expert Jeannie Lawson will be on hand to share her knowledge about whales, dolphins and the natural environment – look out for Jeannie at the Marine Touch Table. Copa residents will also present art and photography exhibitions, and there will be plenty of live music featuring emerging artists alongside some seasoned performers from the Girrakool Blues Festival Band Challenge.
3. Avoca Beach
Avoca Beach celebrates the 5 Lands Walk each year with art and music. The Connections art exhibition in the Surf Club, live music on the Bulbararing Stage in Hunter Park and the Ephemera exhibition of sculptural installations on the beach are regular fixtures. You can take a break from walking and wander around the Community Fair while kids will enjoy a dip in the rock pool
4. North Avoca
The Indigenous people of Darkinjung Country have chosen North Avoca as their place to participate in ceremony and cultural activities, and everyone is welcome to join in. You’ll hear about the importance of dreamtime stories such as the celebration of whale migrations and learn about age-old customs and practices in one of the most glorious settings imaginable. The surf club will host demonstrations of traditional weaving by Mirring women, canoe-making workshops and an exhibition of works by Indigenous artists.
Meanwhile, on the beach you’ll see a colourful display of giant kites; enthusiasts come from all over Sydney to show off their kite-flying skills and you can also join a kite-making workshop to learn the basics of building and flying your own kite.
A highlight of the day will be the arrival of the Message Stick at Terrigal, the final stage of 5 Lands Walk. The Message Stick is an important symbol of connection in Aboriginal tradition and is carried through each of the 5 Lands by its Guardian, an Aboriginal Youth, representing both the Central Coast and Aboriginal community.
Once you’ve finished the walk, check in to the finish line marquee to collect your certificate and free souvenir photo – and then relax and enjoy all the activities laid on at one of the Central Coast’s most popular tourist spots.
The Terrigal Live Stage will feature a talented line-up of musicians and performing artists throughout the day. Around the foreshore you’ll find buskers, artworks and installations from professional artists and local schools, free community activities, and a live Triple M radio broadcast, culminating in a spectacular Closing Ceremony.
The Day After
Why go home on Saturday night after the 5 Lands Walk? There’s plenty to do on Sunday June 27, so stay another day!
5 Lands Walk is proud to promote the literary arts with 5 Lands Words. Writers present their works to an audience, who have the opportunity to meet the authors and discuss their works.
An art trail will be held from 10am until 2pm, where you can meet artists in their studios and buy amazing original artworks; for more details, see 5landsartstudios.com.
And if you’re keen to take your whale-watching experience further, join a whale-watching cruise organised by FantaSea; for more details, see fantasea.com.au/palm-beach-ferries/whale-watching.