Four parkruns Down Under

Having completed her extended tour of Australia, Elizabeth O’Mahony broke down her parkrun adventure for us:

“I’d heard that Parkrun obsession could reach another level when planning holidays and indeed realised that just under six weeks in Australia could allow six parkruns if we travelled midweek.

Distance and then Covid scuppered the first two Saturdays but then my first 8am (!) Australian parkrun, Huskisson, was a stunner and more than made up for the previous disappointments/withdrawal symptoms. An out and back flat route along the shore of Jervis Bay with views of white sands and crystal clear waters. And my first post parkrun dip in the sea. Idyllic. And a bonus…. my husband Rory was persuaded to do his first ever parkrun, walking with two friends. Indeed, walking seems far more common down under.

Cottesloe was the next venture and it was here I caught up with Maria and Luca. Great to see them and their running friends, confirming that if I ever have to move away from Newcastle, parkrun will be an ideal way to make friends and become part of a new community. This was another beautiful Australian coastal run, on the coastline west of Perth and just north of Fremantle. I was grateful for the cloud cover as at 8am it was already 20° and I was regretting the 30km Rottnest cycling adventure the previous day. My fears that the section on sand would be tough were well founded. It was brutal, especially coming up off the beach with about 1km to go.

Dolls Point was next. Another beautiful, flat, out and back route on the shore of Botany Bay, towards, of all places, Ramsgate. Tall Norfolk Pine trees are common on the coast in New South Wales, and are an imposing sight along Botany Bay, with the city skyline also visible in the distance. Further delight was added by sighting dolphins in the clear, calm waters. Again there were plenty of parkwalkers at this event

My final Saturday began with a parkrun in the Eastern Suburbs area of Sydney, on a peninsula known as La Perouse. The real challenge for this one was the 7am start. Again I was thankful for cloud cover as humidity levels were high and it was already high teens.

Kamay parkrun is an undulating 2 lap route with contrasting views of the white sands of Yarra Bay, heritage-listed market gardens, the industrial centre of Port Botany and a huge cemetery. It starts near the actual landing point of the First Fleet Ship under the command of Arthur Phillip in 1788 and is definitely a parkrun for historians. This was the smallest of my four parkrun adventures, with a field of 85, but just as friendly and welcoming as the others.

It became clear over the weeks that the phrase we hear every week, “Please give way to other park users” is definitely required Down Under as so many other runners and walkers are out and about at what we in the UK consider early in the morning. In fact it struck me that it might sometimes be a challenge for event photographers to discern who was a Parkrun participant.

I know the warm Spring climate and stunning locations contributed enormously to my overwhelmingly amazing Australian Parkrun experience, but it was also comforting to know that exactly the same inclusive nature, routines, welcome and encouragement are evident at Parkruns Down Under. It goes without saying that I highly recommend the experience!”

Laurie Johnson -