South-West Navigator September 2016 | Youth Development Program
Welcome to the Blog for our South-West Navigator program. Follow along as these young Australians undertake this challenging and inspiring journey through the rugged wilderness of the south-west. 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 South-West Navigator course got underway on Monday with eight participants congregating in Walpole for the start of their 12 day adventure. After receiving their equipment (backpacks, shelters, stoves etc.) and packing their bags, the group was transported to their first campsite near the beach. Here they learnt about how to set up their shelters (bivvies) using the appropriate knots – definitely something worth knowing how to do properly given the weather! The next morning (Tuesday) the group continued to get to know each other with some games as well as an introductory lesson to navigation. Throughout the trip the group will be required to navigate for themselves using a map and compass, and for large portions, the group will not be on tracks either. The rest of the second day was spent hiking toward the Franklin River. The group described it as an “intense” start to the trip, having to contend with heavy rain and some thick bush bashing but they are taking it in their stride and are in good spirits. Their hike will take around a day and a half before the group starts their first rafting leg later today (Wednesday).
Stay tuned for more updates! In the coming days the group will be paddling across the Nornalup Inlet before taking part in some high ropes challenges!
Thursday (Day 3 of program), was the day the group started having ‘Leaders of the Day’. Each day from now on a pair within the group are allocated on a rotational basis, with the role of stepping up and working together to lead the group. They are responsible for providing the base motivation for the group, navigating throughout the day, keeping track of time and making sure everyone is involved and enjoying themselves!
The first Leaders to kick the group off were Aashka and Ambrose, who had the challenge of leading the group through the thick scrub over sand dunes to The Frankland River .The group said “Everyone got the chance to talk to each other” throughout the walking which they enjoyed, and their “navigation skills are progressing!” Apparently James discovered his love for ‘bulldozing’ through the scrub at the front of the group and making a path for everyone.
The Navigators ate lunch at a high point above the river where they enjoyed the ‘beautiful view’. Having hit the river, and the stash of rafts and gear they need to continue their journey, they had to figure out how to get their whole group and backpacks full of necessities safely to the other side. . Ambrose and Jarrod were deemed to be the ‘heroic swimmers’, who swam across the river initially to get the first raft, apparently looking like ‘lobsters’ when they got out of the water from the cold! They then worked as a group to ferry back and forth across the river making sure not to leave anything behind!
Now completely finished their first land based section of the expedition, the group jumped in the rafts and continued along the Frankland river enjoying the warmer, drier weather and ‘cruisy paddling’. The group saw an amazing wedge tail eagle hovering close above the shore. They followed the river to where it enters the Nornalup inlet and further along to their ‘inlet side’ campsite for the night.
The group reported they were feeling a “little home sick”, but “pretty awesome” at the end of the day, super happy they had some sun, and proud of their efforts of navigating well so far on both the land and water parts! According to the instructors Sam & Vicki, they worked really well together with leadership from Aashka and Ambrose, who set high standards for those who follow them!
Thursday started off with a crisp cold morning, ice on the bivvies (open tarp-like tents), but the sun was shining so the group had smiles on their faces. With Jarrod and James the leaders of the day, the group began their day’s activities with a successful raft across the glassy Nornalup Inlet, enjoying the chance to relax in the calm, warm weather- Ella even got a cheeky nap in on the rafts!!
Once they had crossed the inlet then began the paddle up the Deep River, which proved to be more of a challenge against the current. A sighting of two Oyster Catchers (an endangered species of native bird) protecting their eggs at the beach. The total paddle was over 8 kilometres before the Navigators finally reached their pull out destination after a big effort and lots of snack stops along the way. The group learnt the importance of resilience – “that if we keep trying we will get to our goal”, and are becoming very independent from the Instructors.
The group ended their first rafting section at a small jetty in the late afternoon, where after getting themselves organised they began a service activity for a local family that allow Outward Bound to travel and camp on their land. They spoke with the group about service and involvement with Outward Bound and the group showed a lot of enthusiasm and persistence during their activity of weed clearing and made some excellent progress. Afterwards they walked the last kilometre to their campsite – which they were glad to find out was theirs for two nights, and they would have the luxury of not having to pack up and set up again for a day! Sam and Vicki (Instructors) said that “everyone is more vocal and honest with one another – coming out of their shells – as they enjoyed a campfire cooked meal from Ambrose, and went to bed feeling “awesome”.
Day 5! A full day of ‘adventures at heights’ was lined up for the group on Friday, who had to overcome various challenges to complete each activity! Led by Ella and Leilani, they began the day with the ‘Giant Ladder’ activity, which consists of a massive swinging ladder structure strung up between two big Karri trees. Each pair must problem solve with each other and work together to make their way up the far spaced rungs. The group said that this activity especially helped them “build trust within the group”, as they have to rely on each other to belay them safely as they climb.
After everyone completed the ladder activity the group was set with their next challenge; ‘the Beam’. Having to problem-solve the physical and logistical challenges of getting the entire group safely over a head height beam complex strung up between two trees. The group really had to work hard and well with one another to succeed.
Their final roping activity for the day was the High Ropes Course- set 15m up in between the Karri Trees- the second tallest flowering plant in the world! To complete this, each individual begins with the vertical climb up the stapled Karri, to reach their first platform at height and transfer onto the next element, a tightrope walk called ‘ The Multi-Vine’. Then, after two leaps between small platforms on the trees, they finish off with the Flying Fox.
Amongst being physically and mentally challenged during the day the group said their highlights were Ella sprinting across the tightrope and Patrick overcoming his fear of heights! Enjoying Ambrose’s cooking again by the fire the group said they “feel like great friends now and are pumped for the next seven days!”
The group hiked a section of the Bibbulmun track and “bush-bashed” to reach their next campsite, led by Louis and Patrick. During this, they learnt further navigation techniques, specifically how to follow the co-ordinates on the map as they walk. They battled some stormy weather and even got hailed on, but there were no complaints, and are still reporting they are “enthusiastic and pumped!”
The walk took them out to a section of coast near where they saw lots of Banksias, Grass Trees, and coastal wildflowers! After reaching their campsite, the group were challenged to complete ‘The Box’ activity – which made them “very satisfied and victorious after successfully completing” it. Although feeling tired and worn out from the big day of weather, they said they are “excited for the rest of Outward Bound”, the instructors reported the group is “getting on like mates that have known each other for years.”
Sunday the group had an early start, walking a short distance to their next campsite, where they would complete solo activity. Set up by the Instructors, Sam and Vicki, with the necessary equipment, food and water they would each be placed out in their individual areas where they would spend the next 24 hours alone, given time to rest, reflect on their adventures so far, and get mentally prepared for the rest of program.
Today was Patrick’s birthday! After coming back from Solo, “glad to be in each other’s company again”, each individual had been challenged by being alone yet were “feeling refreshed for their Final expedition!” They said they had experienced some “homesickness” whilst having so much time to think, and also some “team sickness”. They said the separation from one another had “made us appreciate each other’s company more and value each group member.” They had the opportunity to give ea
ch other both positive and constructive feedback after having the time to think on solo, as well as everybody presenting a ‘gift to the group’.
They came to the group decision to name their team “Storm Troopers”, and were given time to prepare and plan for their “Final Expedition” – their last expedition where they really get to put to the test all the knowledge and skills they have learnt and work with one another, whilst the Instructors step back and give them the opportunity to fully lead themselves! Led in the afternoon by Ella and Jared, after they had planned all sections of their upcoming 3 days, the group began their 13km hike to their next campsite, which took them along the Bibbulmun track, on long stretches of beach next to the Southern Ocean and 4WD tracks to their next campsite where they celebrated Patrick’s birthday!
Yesterday (Tuesday) the group began their expedition along a ridge-line sandwiched between the Southern Ocean and Broke Inlet. As part of their final expedition, the group was given a series of grid co-ordinates as checkpoints along the way, and had to plot their route between, navigating between the different features. The group made it up to the highest point on the ridge-line today at ‘Cliffy Head’ peak, which holds beautiful views of the surrounding bushland and ocean. They continued on to find a safe ‘expedition’ campsite, carrying all the provisions they will need to get them to their next re-fill of food and water the next day. The group are in good spirits and are making the most of their last full days together, particularly now the sun has decided to come out! As the group is still out hiking, we haven’t received any new photos, we will post them as soon as we get them! Thanks for following along!
Days 10 & 11
The South-West Navigators finished their last hike in good form, arriving in to their campsite in early Wednesday afternoon. Their beautiful campsite and relaxed afternoon were the perfect setting to reflect on all they have learnt throughout their journey and to begin contemplating their transition into life back at home.
The group had a paddle this morning (Thursday) across a fairly windy and exposed inlet – one last physical challenge before they are finished! The group will be rewarded with a nice campsite with a fire-place and a celebration roast and cakes cooked in camp ovens. It will be a great way for them to wrap up the course, no doubt many a story will be recounted around the fire tonight as the group prepare to head home tomorrow morning. We are still waiting on photos, they should be posted early tomorrow morning. Thanks again for following along and for all of your comments and well wishes!