One of the best ways to become intimately acquainted with an area - to feel its pulse, to hear its secrets - is by traversing it, on foot. So residents keen to get up close and personal with some of Brisbane's most fascinating neighbourhoods will be in for a treat with 'The Rosalie Ramble' and the 'Hills and Valleys of Paddington' walking tours taking place during the first weekend in May 2015.
These Brisbane excursions are just two of hundreds happening around the world as part of Jane's Walk, a broader movement of free, citizen-led walking tours inspired by urban thinker, writer and activist Jane Jacobs. 'No-one can find what will work for our cities by looking at ...suburban garden cities, manipulating scale models, or inventing dream cities. You've got to get out and walk,' she wrote in her 1957 manifesto Downtown is for People. And so the Jane's Walk movement is one of discovery and sharing as people are invited to tell stories about their communities, explore their cities and connect with neighbours.
Anouk Cafe in Paddington. Image courtesy Brisbane Marketing.
Brisbane's inaugural participation in Jane's Walk came about last year thanks to the efforts of urban planner Greg Vann. It is he who is leading the charge again this year, not to mention 'The Rosalie Ramble' on Saturday 2 May 2015. 'It's really about the rich history of the area, from the early days to its flooding and its emergence as a village within a city,' Vann explains. 'It'll focus on the village area and the school/Gregory Park loop, which I think functions like a big village green.'
Meanwhile, the 'Hills and Valleys of Paddington' walk on Sunday 3 May will be led by architect and long term resident, Malcolm Middleton. 'He's a distinguished architect and urban designer, with great depth of knowledge and insights about the area,' says Vann.The walk will explore a range of panoramic views, back lanes and main street activities that contribute to the character and urban fabric of this largely intact inner city suburb.
Thinking about joining one of the walks? Vann recommends the following few steps to success:
1. Dress comfortably
It's not a forced march, but it's not a fashion parade either. Wear sensible shoes.
2. It's as much about the talking as the walking
The Jane's Walk philosophy is more walking conversation than guided tour. It's a chance to get to know your community as well as your neighbourhood.
3. Sharing is good
The walk leaders will know something about your area, and no doubt you do too. Contributing your knowledge and ideas about the area can enrich the experience for everyone.
4. Turn up and go
Jane's Walk is about community and volunteering. It's free. You don't even need to RSVP or register - just turn up at the right time and place and look for the walk leader.
5. Be respectful and caring
Walk leaders give their time freely and with the intention of making a contribution to their area and city. Please do as they ask and make sure everyone on the walk looks out for one another, especially in a big group.