If strenuous activity or organised team sport doesn’t take your fancy, Perth’s gay bushwalking group the WA Wanderers might just be the club for you. Jess Jones reports.

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Not many sporting groups can say the whole outdoors is their playing ground.

The WA Wanderers are a men’s bushwalking group based in Perth who travel all over Western Australia to exercise and enjoy the great scenery of the west together.

 Club chair Ro Richardson has been with the Wanderers for over seven years, joining shortly after migrating to Perth from Cape Town. He and his partner have made many friends through the group, which is for gay and bi men as well as their other male friends.

“We had a fairly active walking group in Cape Town, and I really enjoyed that,” he says.

“Most of the friends we have now have some connection to the Wanderers.

“For some members of the group, it’s their only social outlet.”

Every month brings a different adventure for the Wanderers. The group meets for a Sunday day trip, or even a weekend away if they’re travelling further afield.

On a weekend together the guys will rent accommodation at their destination and usually do a different walk each day.

The Wanderers have travelled as far as nine hours north to Kalbarri National Park on the Coral Coast, and south to Bluff Knoll, one of the highest points in the state.

“There are some really quite attractive places to visit around,” says Richardson—a massive understatement given the stunning desert, bush, and beach vistas Western Australia has to offer.

A typical walk involves between about 10 and 20 guys.

“I think one of the reasons our members quite like the walking format is because it’s a very easy social way to talk to people,” Richardson explains.

“Over the course of a walk you get to chat to everyone else in the group.”

Richardson says the group is very friendly and newcomers are always made to feel welcome.

The Wanderers have a Facebook group for members to join. In addition to the official monthly walks, members can organise their own walks online and get a group together to join them.

Most walks are an easy physical level, but some of the members like a challenge and will occasionally arrange a harder trek, with a heads up to the group, naturally.

Despite their adventures all over the state, the Wanderers have never gotten lost or misplaced a member. They do carry an emergency beacon in case a walk gets a bit too exciting, but so far have never had to use it.

A potential hazard for the group is the daytime heat in the west. During summer, the Wanderers have a pleasant solution: afternoon beach walks, or occasionally even guided nocturnal tours of a local animal sanctuary.

As well as walking in a range of beautiful natural settings, the group gets together for other activities, such as bowling, social dinners, and cycling trips.

Perth locals can find the WA Wanderers on Facebook or at wawanderers.com.au for details of upcoming walks.

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