What a great start to the program! Sixteen participants from various parts of Australia arrived on the Gold Coast for the beginning of their Rainforest Navigator at Outward Bound Australia’s northern NSW operational base. It was straight into meeting and finding out a bit more about each other and beginning to form what will be a valuable support network for the next 12 days. The group was then straight into the activity ‘pamper pole, an incredibly challenging high ropes course element where participants have the opportunity to leap off a pole at an extended height.
Day 2 was a very early morning start in order to achieve a memorable Mount Warning sunrise. After conquering the ‘chain climb’ in the dark, the group was rewarded with spectacular views across to the coastline and beyond. A memorable place for the instructors to share the history of Outward Bound with the group in order to understand “why we are here”.
What a great start to day 3 of program! On another early and beautiful morning the group challenged themselves by abseiling down a steep rock face. Although they were stretching their comfort zones, everyone decided to take on this incredibly memorable activity which was a brilliant all-round effort. The second half of the day had its own challenges as the weather heated up. It was a great opportunity for the group to push boundaries while walking through forest, grassland and up steep hills to reach their campsite. At this campsite they were perched in a saddle between two national parks where they were rewarded with some breathtaking views. Everyone was excited and happy to have achieved a tough walk, arriving reasonably late in the day. Despite a tough day, the group kept in good spirits and are starting to form a great team!
On the morning of day 4 the group were woken up to the tunes of native birds in the Nightcap National Park. After packing up camp the group got ready to start their scenic walk along the Nightcap Trail via the big old Postman Tree. While walking through the rainforest, they stopped at a lookout to soak in the breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean on one side and the mountain ranges to the other side. The group made really good time and got used to carrying their backpacks containing all their personal items, group gear and food. Today’s challenge was not only the long walk, but the group also had the opportunity to participate in an activity called “tied lunch” where all lunch preparation had to be done as one group. This activity involved a lot of communication and teamwork. The biggest learning from this activity was how their journey, the people involved and the end goal all contribute to the feelings of group success. The group reached their next campsite where goannas and koalas were spotted. New friendships have formed and many stories told around the campfire.
On Day 5 the group started a walk alongside a creek reaching a 100m waterfall called Minyon Falls where participants had journal time. What a spot to reflect! The waterfall descends more than 100 metres over the huge rhyolite cliffs which were once part of the Tweed Volcano. They were then transported to the Clarence River to prepare for a 3 day white water canoe trip.
What a wonderful outdoor education experience to be canoeing whilst moving from campsite to campsite on a nearly 4 day river expedition! The group have been white water canoeing in up to grade 2 rapids down the Clarence River. These adventurous navigators started their water expedition at Tabulam where they learnt and practiced their canoe skills in 2 person canoes. They then explored the pure wilderness of the Upper Clarence and camped in some remarkable spots throughout the tour, experiential learning all the way! The beauty of listening to the fast flowing water whilst falling asleep in their tents will stick with most of the group for a long time. It was an absolute challenge to push through and paddle every day for many hours, much tougher than most school camps. Some had the chance to get beached in their canoes on a submerged rock in a rapid but the guides were not far away to help to push the canoe through. Day 8 was the final day on the water. After arriving at Yate’s Crossing the group were transported to the beautiful Mebbin area where a short hike led them to their next campsite.
Solo time!! In the early morning the instructors took each participant to their personal space in the wilderness of Mebbin National Park. Everyone got to take a tent, sleeping equipment and food for the solo period, along with writing utensils and a lot to think about. For the group the biggest challenge was just being alone. It was great to have the chance to experience solitude and have the time to reflect and think of who you want to be. This was framed with 3 questions: think of a dream/goal, what is the way to achieve it and what is your decision to get there. They also reflected on the 6 social diseases or declines in society: Fitness, Initiative, Memory, Skill, Self-discipline and Compassion. The instructors checked in on each participant every now and then to see how they were going and noticed some great art being made out of nature. Everyone seemed to be enjoy this special time.
The sun had not fully risen when the group started to get ready for another day in the wilderness but it was now time for the adventurous Navigators to experience Mountain biking at its finest! The Group cycled for 2 days through Mebbin National Park along great tracks with some terrific scenic views.
Over these days, the group faced some challenging terrain with some steep track sections. All Navigators successfully rose to the challenge and conquered after a skills session and of course the encouragement of their fellow peers.
Day 11 saw the Navigators not just face the challenge of mountain biking, but also of climbing a tall Hoop Pine Tree as a group. Teamwork and communication was the main focus besides a lot of laughter and fun. With the encouragement and support of the group some Navigators pushed their fears of heights and the group as one conquered this tall challenge.
The Group later returned to base camp to a delicious cooked dinner. This was a time to review and reflect on the past 11 days. The group finished the night with something not so familiar, a hot shower and clean clothing! The excitement and appreciation of the Navigators was great to watch.
On day 12 the Navigators rose to their final day outward bound. Before saying their goodbyes the group lowered the Blue Peter Flag, symbolising the group was home safe and received their certificates. The group received a special visit from a Lions Club representative to help celebrate the group successors. This gave the participants who received sponsorship from a local Lions Club to say thank you for the opportunity they had been provided.
It was now time for the Navigators to say farewell to friends and travel home with new learnings, self-confidence, personal growth and the memory of an adventure of a lifetime.
One final quote:
A ship is safe in the harbour but that is not what ships are built for.
As always, our partners and sponsors have played a big role in getting this program up and running. Their contribution ensures that even more young Australians get the chance to discover, develop and achieve their potential. Outward Bound Australia wishes to thank the following sponsors and supporters.
QI District Lions Club – Outward Bound has partnered with Australian Lions Clubs for over 50 years to give local youth the opportunity to take a unique journey of challenging, yet fun-filled self-discovery. The very first Outward Bound Australia program included an Australian Lions Club participant – making us natural partners since the very beginning. Our Youth programs focus on challenging all young people to be better than they believe they are, recognising and building on their strengths, and overcoming perceived weaknesses together.