NPA Partnership

MEDIA RELEASE – 19 January 2017

Social media power leads National Parks Association (Illawarra Branch) and Bushwalk the ‘Gong to decide to work together

The National Parks Association, Illawarra Branch (NPA) and new local initiative Bushwalk the ‘Gong today announced a partnership. This will widen the participation and reach of the local branch of one of the state’s largest bushwalking and conservation organisations. It will also bring a popular local initiative under the umbrella of the statewide organisation’s resources.

The local branch of NPA runs bushwalks and other activities and campaigns for better management of our parks, conservation reserves and marine sanctuaries. A recent focus has been lobbying for completion of the long awaited multi-day Illawarra Escarpment Walking Track. Jenae Johnston, founder of Bushwalk the ‘Gong, has enjoyed a successful 2016 with a rapid uptake of support and media interest in her program of local walks for young people and families. In less than a year her social media following has grown to nearly 4,000 followers. They are able to see Jenae’s photography, videos and detailed blogs about the Illawarra’s natural landscapes.

‘Our members are fairly fit and many know a lot about the bush,’ said NPA Illawarra president Graham Burgess. ‘But we’ve often wondered how to attract more young people to bushwalking and nature conservation in our region.

‘Meeting Jenae has given us a great opportunity. She’s used her initiative and talent to launch a program of walks that are targeted at a different group from ours. She’s gathered an amazing number of supporters and set up an excellent Facebook page and blog.’

NPA and Bushwalk the ‘Gong have been in discussions for several months now, sharing experiences and ideas on how to best incorporate the two for a mutually beneficial partnership. The partnership is in the early stages of social media incorporation. The two bodies plan to have some active cross- over, including advertising of NPA events and providing conservation commentary on Bushwalk the ‘Gong’s posts.

Jenae says ‘it’s a privilege and an honour to partner with the NPA. It’s wonderful that there’s a local association actively protecting and encouraging the development and maintenance of safe and beautiful walking trails.’

‘As we work together we’ll be able to share knowledge and expertise by providing accurate information and education to locals. More people will then be able to make informed decisions about the local environment, its preservation and general appreciation and enjoyment.’

The partnership also hopes to provide an introduction for new bushwalkers to learn to enjoy the activity in a safe way. Bushwalk the ‘Gong will provide guided walks in parallel with the NPA’s existing regular program. Planning for the first walks is well underway.

Media Contacts:

Bushwalk the ‘Gong – Jenae Johnston, 0431 271139

NPA Illawarra – Graham Burgess, 0416 325266