Rainforest Navigator – January 2015

The 2015 Summer Rainforest Navigator course has got off to a great start under the shadow of Wollumbin (Mt Warning) in Northern NSW.

On Day 1 the group spent the afternoon getting to know each other, after a short period of time it was obvious that the participants had really bonded well with lots of chatter, laughter and new friendships forming. The crew then organized their essential equipment before boarding the bus to shuttle them to the beginning of their expedition, a 5km uphill hike into the middle of the Mt Jerusalem National Park. The pace was slow but moral was high. After setting up camp and preparing dinner the group settled into the new evening routine of sitting around the campfire sharing stories and laughter.

Day 2 began with a short walk to the top of a ridge where the participants were encouraged to step outside of their comfort zone and do a 15m Abseil. After a few sweaty palms and shaky knees all of the participants stepped up to the challenge, putting their trust in the equipment and more importantly themselves to create a really positive experience.

The journey continued with a 10km hike in the rain through pristine hills and valleys to a great campsite perched high in a saddle between two mountains. It has been quite a journey already with participants pushed both physically and mentally but all involved are flourishing and enjoying the experience.

Stay tuned for more blog entries as the group continues their epic journey!

Day 3 After a productive morning in camp the group was ready for the next part of the adventure, retracing the footsteps of some of the earliest pioneers of the region. They hiked the Historic Nightcap walking track which was constructed in the 1870’s as a connection between Murwillumbah and Lismore. The 13km leech slapping journey had the participants in awe of the World Heritage rainforest with breathtaking escarpment views across Nightcap National Park. The journey took the whole day so the crew where happy to finally make it into camp and get some dinner cooked. The effect of hiking almost 30kms in the last few days with a large pack has caught up with the group as all was quiet in the camp by 9.00pm.

Day 4 The day began with positive vibes throughout the camp with the knowledge that most of the hiking component has been completed. Ownership of the camp has almost been completely handed over to the participants with them making all the decisions regarding time management and day to day organisation. After a short 2km hike along Boggy Creek the group got to spend some time at the awe inspiring Minyon Falls. A 97m single drop waterfall which has some of the most amazing views of the region.

From there a bus was boarded and the crew were taken out to the Clarence River to spend the afternoon developing their canoeing skills in preparation for the 3 day Canoe trip down the river. After multiple swims the group prepared dinner then had an in-depth discussion on River Ecology.

Days 5, 6 and 7 There were lots of smiles as the bunch of happy campers enjoyed the time canoeing down the Upper Clarence River. The group was in great spirits and thoroughly enjoyed the transition from back packs and hiking boots to swimmers and river shoes.

They had plenty of time to swim and appreciate the environment they were in.

On day 6 the crew where hastily woken up at sunrise by the Instructors and were told to grab basic belongings and quickly get into their canoes as a mock WW2 air raid scenario was taking place. Once the group where on the water Siobhan and Charlie (instructors) retold the” Outward Bound story” which tells of the hardships endured by merchant sailors during the war and ultimately led to the creation of Outward Bound. This exercise then lead into some meaningful discussions about human values and what is truly important to us.

With hot temperatures and bright sunny days there was no better place to be other than paddling down the river.

Days 8 and 9 With the Canoeing component completed the group then separated and spent 24hrs alone in individual bush campsites where they had time reflect on life, create a vision for the future and take some well-deserved down time to re-energize. This “solo” experience is an incredibly powerful and empowering experience and provides an opportunity to spend time in silence away from all the normal “distractions”.

Day 10 and 11 With the program entering the final days the participants are making the most of the experience and fully embracing their time with Outward Bound. The course has had a huge impact on members of the group with conversations relating to “not wanting it to end”, “Let’s do it all again” and “how do I get a job with Outward Bound so I can do this all the time?”

Day 10 brought a new mode of transport for the participants with the start of the 2 day Mountain biking journey. After the morning spent practicing and doing a skills session the group were ready to tackle the trails that took them into Mebbin National Park.

It wasn’t too long before participant confidence increased and the long hill climbs and fast flowy downhills were tackled with enthusiasm. After lunch on the trail a sub-tropical storm dumped a large amount of rain on the group and causing the trail to turn to thick sticky mud which eventually covered them all from head to toe.

Day 11 will see the group continuing their mountain bike ride back onto the Outward Bound property and returning to base via some great trails. Once back the bikes are cleaned and the participants will take part in the “Pamper Pines” activity which is a platform 8m up a tree that the participants climb up to while attached to a safety line. Once on the platform a huge amount of confidence is needed as you are required to jump from the platform and try to grab a trapeze bar, the instructor then lowers you down to the ground. This activity always rattles a few nerves.

The day will conclude with something completely foreign for the group, a HOT SHOWER. After this a celebration dinner and slideshow will be held to congratulate all who completed the expedition.

Special Thanks

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.

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