Walk on the wild side

Kristin MacfarlaneSouth Western Times
Bunbury Bushwalking Club president Raymond Parks has lost count of the number of kilometres he has walked over the years but says it helps him to keep healthy.
Camera IconBunbury Bushwalking Club president Raymond Parks has lost count of the number of kilometres he has walked over the years but says it helps him to keep healthy. Credit: Emily Ace / South Western Times

At the age of 76, Raymond Parks is no stranger to keeping both his mind and body in good shape – and a lot of what he does links back to a career he spent close to two decades doing.

Commonly known as Ray, he spent 19 years working as surveyor, spending long days walking long distances and travelling around Western Australia. In his profession, he also spent a lot of time being part of the beginning stages of a variety of projects.

“I did so much walking when I was a surveying,” Ray said.

“You’re always there where it’s just starting.

“I’m quite interested in history, I always have been.”

Given his background, it seems no surprise the Bunbury man has a keen interest in history, especially pioneer surveyors who worked in the country, and a passion for bushwalking, both of which are still a priority today.

He says it’s in his blood.

Since retiring in 1995, Ray has kept his mind sharp and himself healthy by keeping active, and much of that can be attributed to his involvement with the Bunbury Bushwalking Club.

He describes bushwalking as a “cross-country orienteering sport”, meaning that finding your way through trails stimulates both the mind and body.

Ray became the president of the Bunbury Bushwalking Club about three years ago but has been involved with the group on and off since he retired.

The club was set up in 1986 as a way for people to keep active and enjoy the outdoors. He said club members promoted that to others, showing them the different trails around the South West, planning walks and guiding them through their trip.

“It’s a positive recreation sport where you build up your fitness,” he said.

Ray says the club is also a good place to meet like-minded people and encourages members of the public to get involved, especially younger people given the club’s ageing population.

The club walks are graded and can cater for beginners to the more experienced, taking in national parks, forest reserves, urban and private land and even heritage and established trails.

“Get out and enjoy the outdoors, even if it’s just a short walk ... you build yourself up,” Ray said.

“We would like to have a lot more young people in it.”

Although retired, Ray has plenty to keep him busy.

“Keeping busy keeps you young,” he said.

On top of heading outdoors to walk as much as he can, Ray also makes walking sticks from peppermint trees as a hobby, some of which he has made for other keen walkers.

He’s also an award-winning writer, a member of the Bunbury Heritage Committee, a keen gardener, a volunteer, an educator having held roles at TAFEs in Kalgoorlie and Bunbury over the years, and a talented poet.

He is even entering the Australian Bush Poetry Competition in November.

There is no doubt Ray is a man of many skills with lots to be proud of – his family for one.

He highlights marrying his wife Dianne about 20 years ago as one of his biggest achievements in life. Together they have five adult children and 10 grandchildren and he hopes to share his love for bushwalking with them as soon as he can.

Another highlight is “when I won the Bicentennial Award for the paper I did on on Lord John Stokes”, one of the pioneer surveyors he has been intrigued by over the years.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails