Willandra Honours Past Caretakers of Illustrious Cross-Country Track

We are one week away from the Cross-Country Challenge, incorporating the NSW Cross Country Championships on Saturday, 22 June.

Based in Tapitallee, the XC Challenge takes place on land purchased by Andrew Wilson in the early 1900’s. Many decades later, that land was renamed in 1985 to ‘Willandra’ by his granddaughter to honour the original Aboriginal caretakers.

“To honour two great generations of Wilson land, I decided to search for an Aboriginal name in honour of the original caretakers – our search ended when we discovered the aboriginal word Willandra,” said caretaker Jan Gibb.

“It included part of my ancestors name, and most importantly the word land, which is now our responsibility of caretaking.”

The aboriginal word Willandra means ‘creek’ or ‘little waters’, perfectly describing the property – that is, with the exception of floods and drought.

Willandra has been hosting ANSW winter state events since 1991, when the inaugural Cross Country Relays were staged, and the very first State Cross Country Championship event began in 1993. Multiple name changes ensued, before the revamped ANSW winter series renamed the event to XC Challenge in 2017.

Willandra has also been used by numerous schools in the Shoalhaven area for XC carnivals, as well as Zone and Regional events.

Nowra Athletics Club had use of the land from 1963 up to 2018, but it is now the home ground for Victory Runners.

In the past few months, thousands of school students have run the course – schools have been using the venue since mid-1980’s.

The Willandra caretakers enjoy sharing the land they have been fortunate enough to inherit, especially with cross-country athletes who enjoy and appreciate the challenge it offers.

Many race distances will be on offer, including an all-aged 1km, 2km and 4km Fun Run which starts at 12:40pm. These events are open to anyone, of any age, from anywhere.

Full ANSW members can also represent their club in their age group for the Championship events.

A variety of food and drinks will be available from the Willandra Country Canteen, a Victory Runners home baked ‘goodie’ stall, plus a coffee cart. Lastly, a jumping castle will be provided to occupy energetic youngsters.

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