About The Great Illawarra Walk

The Great Illawarra Walk is back for 2024 and we're going to make this year bigger and better than ever. 

We are excited to announce a new partnership with KidsWish, an Illawarra-based charity that provides special programs and events for children living with disability or illness. Your donation will bring joy and opportunities to families across the Illawarra.

The walk goes from Shellharbour to Austinmer. Walkers are able to walk any distance (up to 40km) over Saturday 9 March 2024.

Registrations are now open; $40 per adult and $20 per child.


All walkers should take extreme care and obey all pedestrian road rules.

Please stay on the footpath and take care crossing roads. Concentration may be less than normal when you are tired so please be aware of cars and other vehicles at all times. 

Emergency Contacts

The support vehicles are identified by yellow discs and are there to support the walkers. They have first aid kits and water on board. In an emergency or in case of any serious problems the ambulance service should be contacted on 000. For other assistance the best contact is Chris on 0414 335 769.

History of the Event

The Great Illawarra Walk started as a result of a casual conversation between Chris Lovatt and Darrel and Cleo Pitt, the owners of a coffee shop that Chris often stopped at during his regular walks. Darrel and Cleo asked Chris if he ever considered walking for charity. By coincidence he had thought about walking from Shellharbour to Sydney and mentioned this to the Pitts.

Darrell and Cleo said they had a friend who was involved with Camp Quality which did amazing work for children with cancer.  With this in mind the first walk was organized for June 2008 and a group of 150 people joined in to walk from Addison St Shellharbour to Botany Bay which was 100km in total distance.

This involved a section through the national park to Bundeena where we actually lost a few walkers (temporarily). The road was also quite dangerous and tired walkers had to get home from Botany Bay at the end of the two days. It was decided the next year that we would walk from Shellharbour on the first day and return to Shellharbour the next day, maintaining the distance of 100km.

2009 proved to be a success and we had an additional 100 walkers join in. In 2010 there were almost 400 walkers. And in 2011 over 560 walked. In those first four years close to $200,000 has been raised for Camp Quality.

Darrel and Cleo moved to Melbourne in 2011 But still support the event from a distance.

In 2014 an application was made to become a registered charity as the committee recognised that there are many worthwhile causes that need supporting. Our constitution was developed further and our main mandate remains helping children in need as well as their immediate family and carers. 

The Committee 2024

  • Chris Lovatt
  • Martin Merritt
  • Emilie Wells
  • Michael Wells
  • Christian Lovatt
  • Ruth Lovatt
  • Katie Hayes



No big walks for five days prior to the walk for  maximum energy levels.

Some tips and ideas to make it more fun and beneficial.

Finding time can be difficult but try to make time. Get up half an hour or so earlier and do a walk. You will feel great for the rest of the day. If you need to post a letter walk to the post box or stop the car half way there and walk the rest. If you are going to buy something small stop your car 20 minutes from the shopping centre and walk the rest of the way. One or two rest days each week is fine and will still keep you on track.

Plan a destination with a break for refreshments. (a good coffee shop works for us!)

Think positive as your fitness (weight and body shape) will improve.

No excuses... If it’s raining use a raincoat. Walking in the rain is fun and you can only get so wet...

Wear a hat, sunscreen and drink lots of water.

Stick to the training timetable and put a tick next to each day you do to show your achievements.

Add up your total distances. Invest in a pedometer and set a weekly target. Improve your totals each week. Be flexible with the timetable days if you need to in order to suit your family life and work. (Swap days but don’t miss too many). Have fun!

Safety Issues

Walkers are responsible for their own safety and should keep this in mind at all times. We want people to enjoy the camaraderie of friends and the challenge of achieving their goals, knowing they are helping a good cause at the same time - but awareness of their personal safety must be at the top of everyone's minds at all times.

  • Do not wear walkmans, ipods or anything else that impedes your senses. You must be aware at all times.
  • Do not wear dark clothing and you may wish to wear reflective arm bands to stand out to traffic, especially if you are walking late in the day.
  • Cross the road only when it is safe.
  • If the path at the side of the road narrows, only cross onto the road when it is safe to do so. Cars travel at high speed and drivers only have a split second to react if you are on the road.
  • If you feel fatigued or unwell - do not continue. Take a break or go home so you can walk another day!
  • Drink plenty of water.

Water stops thanks to One Agency Southern Division

There will be water available as the route passes by the various One Agency offices along the route.

Shirt Pickup

Your T-Shirts can be picked up from two weeks prior to the event. More information to come in early 2024..