Australian Alps Navigator – September 2016

Australian Alps Navigator September 2016 | 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, photos may take a day or two as they are a little harder to get out of the bush! Please join in and leave your comments – we’d love to hear from you! Stay tuned for the first post!

Days 1 & 2

The Australian Alps Navigator program is up and running! After saying goodbye to loved ones, the group met their instructors, Jakarra and Morgan who then led them in some “ice-breakers” – games designed to help people get to know each other and to act a little bit silly while they’re doing it! Following this the group got into some of the introductory parts of the program such as receiving their backpacks and other equipment before learning how to set up camp and cooking dinner on the fire.

On day two the group were still getting to know one another as they participated in the Giant Ladder. The Giant Ladder is a fantastic activity for developing trust as it requires close co-operation and physical assistance for the two people to climb the ladder. It is next to impossible to climb the ladder as an individual and furthermore, a team of people on the ground, the belayers, are tasked with keeping the climbers safe, all under the watchful supervision of the instructors.

As well as the Giant Ladder, the Navigators also took part in a tree planting activity which also incorporated a lesson on biodiversity from a local volunteer, Tim. Before getting out and enjoying the national park for the better part of two weeks, it is always great for participants to give something back and learn more about the sub-alpine environment they will be travelling through. Following their tree-planting, the group was dropped off at their first campsite where they will begin their first major hike. We hope you enjoy the activity update and the photos, stay tuned for more updates throughout the program!

Day 3

The Australian Alps Navigator group had a fantastic day on Tuesday. One of the focuses for the day was creating a bit of group identity which the group did by creating a flag for themselves as well as a “Full Values Contract”. This “contract” is essentially an agreement between each member of the group to uphold certain behaviours and values. Most importantly, it is generated by the participants themselves with minimal input from the instructors, this way, the group can begin to take ownership of their program. The three key values identified by the group were: Teamwork, Support and Commitment.

The other focus for the day was learning some new outdoor skills, in particular, off-track navigation. The group had a short(ish) hike which required them to navigate by map and compass to collect checkpoints along the way. This is a skill they will use many times throughout their program, particularly toward the end when they will spend the majority of their time away from tracks and formed paths. They finished their hike at the base of Mt Tennent which they will be tackling on Day4. Visit us again tomorrow morning to read about how the group went climbing this formidable peak!

Days 4, 5 & 6

The group has face challenges on many fronts over the past couple of days. The weather has been number one on this list with approximately 30mm falling in the past two days (Wednesday & Thursday). The group climbed Mt Tennent – their first significant physical challenge – amidst this rain and windy weather and made it to their campsite on the other side in good time. They set up a good camp and were able to withstand the weather to stay relatively dry throughout the night. The next morning the group began hiked further in to the Namadgi National Park, heading toward the Honeysuckle Campground. This campground was once the site of a significant tracking station, used during the Apollo moon landings. The group’s mood was somewhat matching the weather as the consistent hardship started to bring out some underlying tensions. When the group attempted “The Box” – a large problem solving initiative – some of these tensions came out in the open which allowed the group to discuss them in a constructive debrief.

The group awoke to snow at their campsite on Day 6! Their course has been somewhat modified to give them an easier day, the team at base camp is also sending out more equipment such as tents and thermal sleeping bag liners to keep the group well protected from the elements! Today the group will be hiking toward the Orroral Ridge where they will take part in a challenging abseil activity tomorrow.

While the group has definitely had their share of hardship early on, things like the weather only serve to make the experience that mush more impactful, particularly when they come through the other side with a level of resilience they may not have otherwise discovered in themselves. Stay tuned to read about the group’s progress!

Days 7, 8 & 9

Despite tough conditions the Australian Alps Navigators completed their abseil activity along the spectacular Orroral Ridge. The abseil activity is a great opportunity for individuals to challenge themselves and step out of their comfort zones. The group had a long day, eventually arriving in their campsite at 8pm that night after hiking down in to the valley below their abseil site.

While the weather was cool and blustery overnight, the group woke on Sunday to a beautiful and sunny day, certainly a well-earned change and perfect for their solo activity. The solo activity sees the group members receive individual shelters and food and spending a 24 hour period by themselves, though visited and within contact of the instructors. It is a great opportunity to rest and recuperate as well as to reflect on the journey and how lessons can be applied back at home. The group woke to another fine morning on Monday before the weather turned sour again in the afternoon. Nevertheless, the group had a very positive experience on their solo activity and enjoyed sharing their stories at the group debrief.

The final element of the course is the ‘final expedition’. This culminating expedition will see the group take responsibility for every element, from planning, right through to execution. Despite heading off in to yet more wind and rain, the group were in excellent spirits and made good progress on their first afternoon of hiking (Monday). Check back in tomorrow to hear about how their final journey is progressing!

Days 10 & 11

The Australian Alps Navigators had another epic day on Tuesday, hiking through some steep and heavily vegetated terrain before reaching their campsite amidst heavy rain and even some lightning! The group stayed safe during the storm by following Outward Bound’s severe weather protocols including the use of the “lightning position” as they waited for the worst of the storm to pass them by. Even once the main part of the storm was passed , they still had a night of heavy wind and rain to contend with – no doubt something they are getting used to by now – and their final expedition is certainly living up to its billing as the culminating experience of the trip!

Today (Wednesday) the group awoke to much finer weather with blue skies and sunshine for their last full day together. As the course begins to wind down, the group will have an easier day, spending time during their final day of hiking to reflect on their journey and prepare for their re-entry into life back at home. The weather has been the dominant element of the course and no doubt these young adults have developed a great deal of resilience throughout their journey so far. As the group is still out on their expedition we haven’t received any recent photos just yet, we should be able to post them up tomorrow morning with a final update. Thanks for following along!

Day 12 – Final Post

By now the Australian Alps Navigators are either on their way home or already there! It was a mixture of tiredness and excitement in the group this morning, but they were all looking very happy to have a hot drink, a cooked breakfast and a shower! The course wrapped up with the traditional lowering of the Blue Peter – a naval ensign that signifies a ship leaving the harbour. In lowering the Blue Peter the group is recognising that they are leaving Outward Bound to return to the challenges back at home equipped with a new set of skills and self-beliefs.

Thanks so much for following along! It’s been a pleasure to read all of your comments, no doubt you’ll all be hearing plenty of stories tonight and over the next few days. Our instructors always love to hear “what happens next” so if you have any stories, messages or any feedback for us here at Outward Bound, please get in touch with Nick Atkin. Thanks again for joining us on the blog and for trusting us with your loved ones!

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