After much anticipation, all participants arrived not knowing too much about what exactly their 12 day Navigator experience would entail. Day 1 was fairly short; the groups arrived, bringing the rain with them. The evening was concentrated on learning the ins and outs of camp set up as well as spending some time getting to know each other. A highlight for all participants was learning about toileting in the bush- they said goodbye to the ease of flushing!
For their first full day at Outward Bound Australia the participants learnt basic navigation skills. They were able to put these to the test quickly by heading off track hiking through thick shrub to reach the picturesque beach. Everyone was in awe by the millions of starts that lit up their camp that night. Surrounded by the beautiful shining lights, jokes were told around the group causing contagious laughter. A few participants in particular have become to driving force amongst the group. As well as other stepping up by taking charge of the navigation first up! Everyone has bonded really well already, and are feeling exciting for the next day and the many challenges ahead.
Whilst the sun was rising, the group spent the morning bush bashing their way through coastal shrubbery to the river. Once they reached the river they had to swim 20m across to the other side where they 3 rafts waiting for them. They learnt vital rafting skills which would help them then paddled 3km’s down the river and into the Nornalup Inlet to their next campsite. They had many highlights of the day, especially doing “burnouts” in the rafts on the river! There were three participants chosen as the first leaders for the program and they all did a great job! Each person got a lot of learnings from their leader experience. The group is enjoying getting to know each other more and once again are looking forward to what the next day brings!
At the beginning of day 4, the group is beginning to take ownership of the program. The instructors are beginning to step back so the participants can lead the way!
A break from hiking was warmly welcomed as the group spent the day rafting across the inlet and into Deep River. The inlet was “like a mirror” with the sunrise dispelling a screen of fog in the morning. After a big day, the group all enjoyed a campfire, especially after all the rain they have battled through so far. The highlights for the day included getting to put dry clothes on, as well as pulling everyone off the rafts and plunging into the water.
There were a few new leaders today. They did a great job balancing their respective strengths and weaknesses to present a cohesive and united leadership unit! Bring on tomorrow!
Giant Ladder and High ropes was on the agenda for the group today. For many this was a great challenge but everyone was able to meet or exceed their own personal goals. “Everyone really enjoyed the high ropes and the challenges it brought.” The group is now feeling very comfortable with each other and have become sharing more from their past experiences. Each day they are taking more initiative as a team to get things done.
The highlight for today was definitely the high ropes course, everyone really enjoyed it!
It has still been raining quite a bit, which has meant the nightly fires have been very much appreciated. Members of the group have begun taking on more leadership roles, finding their own voices and making their way out of their shells! Others have really begun to push themselves as the challenges increase.
Half a day’s hike proved challenging for the group today, though a few particular members of the group kept everyone’s spirits high with lots of singing and laughter. As tough as they found the hike, many were more nervous about the 24 hour solo they would begin that afternoon. Before heading out on solo the group was given time for peer evaluation by giving feedback to those amongst the group – for many this was a powerful thing which left them feeling very appreciative. Then each handed their own survival kit, the group was split up and placed out on their own for some time to themselves.
After surviving a night on their own, solo still took up the duration of day 7. It wasn’t until the evening that they were brought back together again. Many described their experience as challenging yet positive leaving a big impact. By having the chance to reflect on who they were and what they had achieved in the program and in their everyday lives they came feeling more self-aware and like they have grown as an individual. People could even see a change in their fellow peers when reunited. Everyone was really happy to see each other again, even after only 24 hours. It made them realise what a strong team they had become so far.
The group have been mentally, socially, and emotionally challenged. Now it is time for the group to be challenged physically as they prepare for their final expedition. They will put everything they have learnt over the last 7 days to the test as they navigate their way for the next four days off track to their final checkpoint.
The group is beginning to tire but they still have their biggest challenge yet; final expedition. They spent the morning planning their route and marking out checkpoints to get them to their final destination.
Then with a break in the rain and the sun finally out for the first time, off into the bush they went as they worked their way up and over kilometres of sand dunes with some pretty spectacular views of the coast along the way.
A highlight for the group was stopping in the middle of a field full of wildflowers where they played a game called camouflage before continuing on their way to find themselves a spot to set up for the night. Camped on top of a sand dune the group had a spectacular sunset whilst they ate their dinner.
As they get close to the end the group commented that “we don’t want to leave in a few days”
Today the group took on ‘Woolbales’ – Three hills surrounded by some intensely thick Karri forest. It proved a big day for them as they continuously bashed their way through vines, karri forest and fallen logs. Though it was definitely worth the hard trudge as they reached each peak and were rewarded with a breathtaking view of the ocean and sand dunes as far as the eyes could see. The view also gave an opportunity for the group to see how far they had travelled during their time at Outward Bound Australia.
Once on top of the third peak it was time to make their way back down the other side to find their campsite. A patch of sword grass proved challenging as they waded their way through it before finally popping out onto a track and making camp for the night.
There are definitely tight friendships formed between the group as they achieved so much together.
This morning the group worked together by doing service. With tools in hand they had fun regenerating the campsite they stayed at that night, allowing the land to grow back.
The afternoon was spent working their way through some “gnarly bush”. Definitely being some of the thicker vegetation they’ve come across so far. All were in high spirits though, as they bashed their way through to find themselves a big granite boulder to camp on that night. The spot also rewarded them with a fantastic sunset and a night of star gazing.
The final full day of program! Setting off bright and early they continued their way through the bush to their final checkpoint – Mt Pingerup. Though the hike was challenging, the group still charged full of excitement and anticipation.
Finally they conquered the mountain where they could sit in awe at the view as reality hit of what they had faced and overcome since day one. With a sense of achievement they enjoyed sitting up there giving each other some final feedback and sharing their personal goals from the program with one another.
Then a celebration was in order as the group was taken to their final campsite and enjoyed a roast dinner and cakes cooked in the fire.
Excited faces met them in town as they were dropped off to their family and friends waiting eagerly. There was a buzzing atmosphere all around as they said their final goodbyes to the instructors and fellow participants.
Over the course of the 12 days they developed as individuals and have walked away with some incredible experiences and new friends. They were all very positive of what they had achieved and were grateful for the opportunity.
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