Eastern Heart and Sole is a walking group in Melbourne run by Vision Australia with the Heart Foundation. The group is open to anyone who enjoys exercising in the fresh air and being social at the same time. Participants meet at 9.30am every Tuesday in the eastern suburb Boronia. The walk runs along a five-kilometre path and finishes up at a local café.
I had some free time one Tuesday morning and decided to meet with Heart and Sole. Despite the weather being overcast and cold, around half a dozen people turned up. The group comprised people with and without a vision impairment.
The route was generally flat. As we wandered along the track, sighted members of the group described the surroundings. A chilly wind fanned our faces but the air remained dry. The leader of the group, June, gave directions and ensured nobody was left behind.
When bike riders approached, we all moved to the left to allow them to pass. After a while, we entered the Tim Neville Arboretum in Ferntree Gully. It is a park with two lakes, children’s play equipment, barbecue facilities and a pergola. As we crossed over a bridge, the group paused to admire the ducks that came within a couple of metres of us. I was told they were about the size of my hand.
Time for a chat
Our final destination was the café. As we drew near I sped up as I was desperate for a coffee. We all sat in the café and chatted about this and that. I sat opposite June. She told me she enjoys leading the walk and that the long walk gets easier for people each time they do it.
This year participants will bring a picnic lunch and eat it in the park in the last walk before Christmas.
A different walking group
I found this group was especially patient and considerate towards everyone's individual needs. For example, participants without a vision impairment remarked on an intricate design of a pergola and were willing to wait while those of us who couldn't see to ran our hands over the unusual texture. They warned of approaching bike riders or walkers and helped those with a vision impairment to safely cross the road.
I would recommend Heart and Sole for people who prefer a quiet, safe stroll. The group follows the same route each week so members are familiar with the environment. For a person like me who enjoys more strenuous bush-walking this walk was probably a bit too easy, however I enjoyed the company.
Participants meet outside Zagame’s restaurant, on the corner of Dorset and Boronia Roads in Boronia. Anyone interested in attending must organise their own transport to and from the meeting points.
To find out more about walking with Eastern Heart and Sole contact June on telephone 9754 6279. If you decide to join the group, you will need to register with the Heart Foundation. This can be done either online or by telephone.