Australian Alps Navigator April 2017 | Youth Development Program
Welcome to the Blog for our Australian Alps Navigator program. Follow along as these young adults undertake a challenging and inspiring journey through the Australian bush. Here you will find updates from the program including a written account of each day’s events as well as photos. You can expect the written portion to be quite up-to-date (although their may be a few days over Easter without a post), photos may take a day or two as they are a little harder to get out of the bush via the kookaburras! Please join in and leave your comments – we’d love to hear from you! Stay tuned for the first post!
All Navigators have arrived safe and sound to a sunny but cool Canberra day. The participants will be divided up into two teams to be accompanied and lead by our group leaders Matt and Kelly and Sam and Sarah. All participants settled in well with their first lunch together and have had an interesting afternoon learning about the gear they will be carrying. All participants will have the chance to lead their team over the next few days as well as each being integral team members. Stay tuned for some of the photos over the next few days from their first challenge – the High Ropes.
Today is a day of adventure and challenge! Both teams are getting to know each other well and friendships are already beginning to be formed especially on the High Ropes course. Both teams have spent much of the day having fun in the air. The high ropes course requires individuals to climb up to 10m and challenge themselves on the elements (all harnessed and connected to safety lines of course!). For many it pushes their comfort zones as they let go of the ropes to see how many claps they can get balancing on the foot wire. For others it is a chance to enjoy the adrenaline of running across the Indiana Jones bridge which wobbles like jelly.
After completing the high ropes course each team had a chance to work together on the Giant Ladder. The Giant Ladder rungs get wider as they climb and they soon find themselves working with their climbing partner to help each other to the next rung. One participant proudly pointed to the top after they were back on the ground and said “Wow, I got to there!”. The teams will head south in the vehicles today to begin their journey back. It’s an exciting start to their journey and we look forward to welcoming them back on Day 12 to our National Campus. Good luck teams!!
Day 3 and 4
Both teams began their journey north after spending the night near the historic Brayshaws Hut. The teams were excited to begin the first section of their expedition. The mood in the teams is high and individuals are already helping each other out. One team reported in success with their first section of navigating. All team members were taught about map reading and compass use and this lead them to a nice grassy campsite to set up their bivouacs. Fin, Ryan and Jake were especially helpful in helping team mates with the hiking.
This morning the teams would continue on towards the Yankee Hat area. Yankee Hat is renowned for its Aboriginal rock art, as well as the beautiful valley with rabbits running through it. Today Michael, Dylan, Ihab and Ryan M had a go navigating the team to their first food drop. The teams would camp further up the valley before heading off track to climb once again into the hills. Please bear with us as the kookaburras haven’t dropped the photos to us yet. Both teams are doing great and really picking up the skills that will help them excel as a team and individuals.
Day 5 and 6
Happy Easter everyone! The teams are still making their way north and have arrived in the Orroral Valley for their overnight solo. They have had a couple of challenging days and whilst the days have been reasonably warm by the afternoon they woke up to frost on Saturday morning. It’s nothing that they can’t handle although getting out of a warm sleeping bag on a cold frosty morning takes some courage.
The teams hiked up Rendezvous Creek range to Nursery Swamp – a huge trip. Nursery Swamp is nestled among the mountains and technically is a fen completely covered in sedge grasses. From here the team dropped down into Orroral Valley to the supply drop and found an Easter treat – Hot cross buns!
They write that while some team members have some sore feet from the big hike they are feeling “pretty good” to “great” and were determined to finish what was a physically and mentally challenging hike. As the scribe for the day Madi writes it was “SO hard but SO worth it!”
The team members will have a rest day with their overnight solo before heading once again into the mountains for some abseiling and bouldering. Stay tuned!
Day 7 and 8
The two teams have completed their overnight solo. Solo is a chance to refresh, reflect and enjoy the nature by themselves supervised in the valley by our group leaders. For many it is a chance to enjoy the serenity and peace and quiet after being around others for the entire time. For some though solo is more challenging than rock climbing and abseiling combined and they learn something about themselves they may not have realized. Participants are given a small tarp, some basic food and positioned in a private place with their personal belongings and journals. Group leaders will check in on them at regular intervals but apart from that the only visitors they will encounter at their site is the odd kangaroo or bird. Participants are asked to be creative and make a gift for their team as well as set themselves some goals and reflect on their strengths. All team members came off the solo feeling “refreshed, re-energized, strong and outgoing” and some have shared some poems:
“Swigity, swag, what’s in the bag? Some water, food, that makes me glad. If only I had someone to share the time that it took to think up this terrible rhyme” R
On Easter Sunday here we are
We come together from near and far.
The morning sun it melts the ice.
Freezing? Sure but the view is so nice.
Wallabies, roos gallivanting around,
The crickets chirp, do you hear the sound?
Nothing rhymes with orange, that’s very true.
But our team? We stick together like glue.
Before us lies a challenge, it’ll be hard,
So instead of handing out Easter Cards, I will present some words which will guide
Or in serious cases, save your hide:
“That is hard, but you can do hard things”
Doesn’t that sentence have such a nice ring?
It keeps me going when the going gets tough
When the night is cold and no ones around,
When I found that my bivy was on an ant mound,
Remember you’re strong, you’re always enough
You can do things which appear to be rough
Listen to the thump of tiny bird wings
And recall only this:
You can do hard things!
After the solo the teams headed out of the valley up onto Honeysuckle ridge line. The ridge line is renowned for it’s huge granite boulders where the teams abseiled over precipitous edges. Hearts thumping, and palms sweaty each participant pushed their own comfort zones.
Following this they headed on north and began their final expedition prep. This would take them over two challenging Mountains – Dead Mans Hill and Mt Tennant.
Each team would choose some of their fellow team members to lead them in the final expedition and instructors were very happy with the skills that everyone had picked up from the beginning of course. It would be up to the teams now to really demonstrate those qualities of compassion for others, resilience and self responsibility to see them through to the end under the watchful, encouraging supervision of the instructors.
Unfortunately one of the cameras decided to go off on its own camping trip so photos from one of the groups have been missing. Stay tuned for more news on the Final Expedition.
Both teams stepped up well into leading themselves with all the new skills that they had learnt over the preceding week. Whilst the teams had some big hills to climb they worked together well and managed to get to Mt Tennant for the sunrise of Day 11. This was a great achievement and from there they could see part of the journey that they had come as well as see Canberra to the north. It was all down hill from there and they arrived back at National Base to camp that evening and have a celebratory dinner.
Day 11 and 12 finished well with team members having the opportunity of one last high ropes challenge – the Giant Swing! Rushing through the air tied into the safety rope was an exciting Adrenalin rush to finish the program. Almost as good a feeling as having their first shower at the end of the program. All participants in this Australian Alps Navigator should be proud of what they have accomplished. Congratulations once again and all the best!!