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The Great Sandy National Park

A once in a lifetime opportunity was given the Year 9 students to hike the Great Sandy National Park. At first, we were daunted at the thought of walking all day, but by the end, we had forged great friendships and wonderful memories of struggles and triumph that will remain with us forever.

The challenge of mountain bike riding to a campsite entailed a journey of 16 kilometres and a few cuts and scratches along the way and our safe arrival in a clearing amidst dense bushland was cause for celebration. Planning and packing of essential items into a rucksack was the next part of preparation for the hiking component of the camp and along with our own items, we also evenly distributed all the supplies which included food, cooking utensils, gas cylinders, pots and pans and the yet to be used poop tube!

After a night in sleeping bags and tents, we were greeted with some unpleasant news. Firstly, a 30 kilometre hike was ahead, secondly, there were still supplies to pack into our already laden bags, and thirdly, we had to pack up our tents and sleeping bags and cram them into our bags. Selflessness was shown and some boys kindly volunteered to carry more items. We set off across the river by taking turns going on a canoe, and the hike officially began. We walked single file along narrow, uneven tracks through dense bushland, dark forests, and dry grasslands.

By late afternoon, we ran out of water and still had at least 3 hours to go so our Camp Leader, Maroo suggested a shortcut that could reduce the hike by 5 kilometres but there was a catch. It involved walking straight through the dense bush. Everyone too eagerly agreed to the ambitious plan and Maroo began to clear a pathway with his machete. We followed making our way past thorns and through thick shrubbery for over an hour. As the sun dipped and light faded, we finally arrived at our campsite by the ocean. This final stretch was one of the most challenging parts of the hike and only managed with the support we gave each other.

Day 3 was known as the ‘piece of cake day’ because we only had to walk 10 kilometres along the beach to our next campsite and the support truck transported all our packs for us. This allowed us to enjoy a well-deserved sleep in and a late start for the hike. That night, after telling stories around the campfire, we looked back at the monumental effort it had taken to get to this point and we all fell into bed exhausted!

Heading towards a lake for a swim the next day the pace we set was fast and powerful. In fact, this swim ended up being one of the most memorable parts of the camp as it felt like a gift; a well-earned reward after conquering the challenges that had been thrown at us.

Reminiscing on the week, thoughts of the gruelling hike vanished and were replaced with the incredible feeling of accomplishment. Conquering a seemingly impossible obstacle, working together as a team and enjoying the camaraderie of mates made this year’s camp undoubtedly a highlight that will be a topic of conversation for years to come.

Xavier Cuolahan
Year 9 2019