Welcome all to the Navigator – Australian Alps blog for these April holidays. We are super excited to have two teams of 14 young adventurers set to go on their 12 day challenge through the spectacular Namadgi National Park. Everyone is settling in and getting to know each other. Stay tuned for more news during the week. Whilst we may have a lag in photos flown in via kookaburra we’ll try and get some stories out to you daily. Stay tuned for more great stories of team work, participants overcoming lots of challenges and fun times!
A huge shout out to the 28 young people heading out on this big expedition. At the welcome ceremony the 28 participants were divided up into two teams and they had an afternoon of getting to know their new team members. Team 1 have the fabulous Bec and Luka as their instructors and Team 2 have Gresh and Chelsea as their instructors. One team started with the high ropes challenge course whilst the other team settled into some team building challenges to help them tackle the high ropes challenge course tomorrow.
SO it’s been a big day for both teams with members showing their courage and bravery on the challenge ropes course. Both teams soared to great heights and showing some good support and camaraderie for each other. They’ve headed out towards Brayfield Hut in the buses this afternoon to begin their long journey homewards. They will be learning to navigate through some beautiful sub alpine terrain and having a go at being leaders at different points. Keep giving them a shout out so that they can see your comments in the post below.
Yesterday the bus wound up into the mountains south of National Base to drop off the two teams for their expedition home. They began to understand the journey ahead as they passed many mountains!
The instructors spent some time with all the team members giving them their first lessons in navigation. Today they will put these new skills into practice. With packs on the teams headed off on their own independent journeys. Each team will plan a route and take turns in being the leaders.
Shout out to Team 2’s first pair of leaders from their instructors. Their instructors wrote: “Rosie and Luke stepped into the (leadership ) role quite well considering it was the first leadership day and set a good example for future leaders”.
We probably won’t get photos for a few days but will hopefully be able to get some stories of their first hike tomorrow. Stay tuned!!
Teams have headed today to the beautiful Yankee Hat area. Yankee Hat is a small dome shaped mountain which has Indigenous rock art at the bottom. Both teams have started to place different individuals as leaders of the day. They have reported that their challenge mostly since starting hiking is getting used to hiking with packs and waking up early!
Team 1 learnt about the local huts and what they were used for. They covered quite some distance hiking 10kms especially through some overgrown scrub. They have put in a big effort and were tired at the end of the day but excited about what they achieved.
It wasn’t all hiking though as the instructors gave them a few rope challenges. For each challenge the team became more accomplished at problem solving
Team 2 are hiking about a half day behind Team 1 who got a head start but also doing really great.
The highlights have been the serenity through the areas they’ve walked , stars at night time, amazing views and being in an amazing place away from the normal life style. Team members are showing good support for each other.
We’ll upload the photos from their photos in the the next 24hrs as we are able to pick them up.
Both teams have passed through the Yankee Hat area. Team 1 who are a half day ahead due to starting their expedition earlier (although it is definitely not a race!!) have hiked down to Orroral Valley. It’s a beautiful spot and tonight begin their overnight solo in a remote area. They will definitely be enjoying the stars tonight!
Team 2 will start their solo tomorrow. Apologies as we are still waiting on photos to come in. We’ll upload some over the weekend!
Here are some back dated pics! More to come tomorrow + some stories!! Thanks for your patience.
Team 1 had a massive hike up the mountains through thick shrubs to start their solo. The team enjoyed a full day of solo having the opportunity to do some much needed yoga, stretching, meditation and sleeping. The team are feeling good as they pass the halfway mark.
The challenges and biggest learnings that they report are “hiking in swampy land and ensuring everyone watches where you put your feet!”, not talking on solo (as they are by themselves) but on reflection they consider that the solo experience is good for thinking about what you want to do in life”.
Update for Day 6
Team 2’s report has come in:
“The group woke to a very frosty morning on the banks of Rendezvous Creek to begin their last expedition before solo. The morning hike was covered in fog as they headed up over a saddle and down into Orroral Valley to receive their solo briefing and additional gear and food to set up their own shelters. After a big few days hiking the team is understandably looking forward to a break although nervous about spending the night in their own shelter.”
Team 2 started their solo the day before and were enjoying their own time to rest up. A rejuvenated Team 1 hiked up from the valley to the granite tor area called “Legoland”. Huge granite boulders exposed by thousand of years of erosion and weathering provide the perfect backdrop for above ground caving exploration. Some tight squeezes through cracks and spectacular views back over the valley where they did solo certainly will provide some great photos – coming soon!!
Update from Team 2
The team members finished their 24 hour solo which helped to rejuvenate them and they report feeling more”pumped, excited and energised”. The 24 hour solo was a huge learning experience for them all as they realised that they are capable and can rely on themselves. Their instructors poetically report:
“While there was much apprehension within the group towards spending time alone in the bush on their solo experience, once reunited all members of the group agreed it was a valuable experience that many would like to recreate in their life. The day concluded with a short walk through the picturesque Orroral Valley, while the storm clouds danced on the terrestrial plains still higher above their already soaring spirits”
Update from Team 1
The team hiked up through the scrub to the top of the ridge which is quite a challenging hike. The instructors have put them on “mountain time”. This means that they have given them the chance to go without their watches and have to guesstimate the time based on the sun’s movements (and how hungry they feel as it gets towards meal times!). The team have also had some workshops on leadership styles which will help them as they take on more and more leadership responsibility over the final few days.
Both teams have headed through abseil and Legoland after a big climb up onto the ridge. Team members record on their notes that the best moment of the day was watching Mitchell abseil and Ethan navigating up the hill.
The instructors have handed a lot of the leadership over to both groups and groups are spending time completing the preparation for their final expedition which will hopefully see both teams summit Mt Tennant over the next day or so before heading down the Australian Alps track back to our National Base. Good luck teams!!
Team 2 got up bright and early to go above ground caving at Legoland. They then headed back along the ridge to pick up some food and arrived at their camp at 5pm. Due to a big day the group is a bit tired and looking forward to a rest at camp. The best moment of the day was “experiencing the wonders of caving and the view of ramp rock overlooking the Orroral Valley”. The instructors report that the group is working well to overcome some issues and importantly worked out some solutions in their nightly sharing circle.
Team 2 had another big hiking day and covered some big distance of 7km this included an inadvertent summit of Dead Man’s Hill (yes that is the name of the hill!). They held an Anzac service to remember those who have served for Australia. With such a big day they were relieved to make their campsite in the saddle of Mt Tennent – a short distance down from the summit. This will give them a great lead into getting to the top and down for the next day. They are almost at the end now and feeling relieved to have their goal in site.
Team 1 are travelling well and both teams will summit Mt Tennent tomorrow before heading down toward Tharwa.
“Today we arose at 0430 to climb Mt Tennent for sunrise. After a very rushed breakfast we started the last leg to the top of the mountain. The last part of the mountain was very steep but not as steep as what we had done before. We reached the summit a few minutes before sunrise and all admired the view. In one direction we could see all the mountains that we had climbed past or over and in the opposite direction was the twinkling lights of Canberra. You could see the highway marked by the car lights and witness the city slowly wake up as the street lights faded out. It was a sight of true beauty and showing how humans change the surface of the Earth. We all posed for photos and watched the crimson sun rise over the mountains. When people had used up their camera film for the day we moved into a circle and discussed the things we had learnt, taken for granted and wanted to change about ourselves. Once we had finished that conversation we symbolically threw a rock that represented what we wanted to accomplish after this camp. After that we looked around and then quickly hiked down the hill.
“We stopped at a lookout for morning tea and admired the view. We then hurried on and reached basecamp half an hour early. On the way, we passed a rock cemetery (editor’s note: Desalis cemetery) and a rustic old shearer’s shed.
“Once we arrived at basecamp we ate honey and vita weets and proceeded onto the Giant Swing. This consisted of being pulled up a large height then pulling the quick release which made you swing from one side to the other. It was invigorating and an awesome time. The harnesses were also very comfortable! (winky face!!). Chelsea and Gresh also had a go which was hilarious.
“We had lunch after that (lunch was inhaled as usual and there were few leftovers. We then went to plant trees for a service project. Tim showed us how and discussed why it was important to help the environment. We then planted native hop bushes and got to write messages on the guards. One of the messages was: “Please grow! I climbed a mountain for this!!”
“We finished planting and then started preparing for bush cook. We have got lamb shoulders, vegies and cakes so it should be splendid. We are also using dutch ovens which is most exciting. All in all we are happy campers!!”
Congratulations to all of the participants who took part in the Navigator – Australian Alps program these holidays. Both teams successfully finished the program at our National Base campus in Tharwa. There were many highlights but summiting Mt Tennent was a great achievement.
Great to see all enjoy their final day packing up, sharing stories and swinging high on the Giant Swing. Here’s some last pictures and a quote from our founder Kurt Hahn:
“Think highly of yourself because the world takes you at your own estimate.” – Kurt Hahn