"My husband recently went away to New York without me (it's ok - we discussed it first) leaving me home alone. The weather had been pretty beautiful so I wanted to try something new in the great outdoors, however finding a willing companion on short notice was proving hard!
Being a bit scared to venture out too far on my own, I was looking to join a group for added fun and safety - not that I was looking for anything particularly dangerous but I am very uncoordinated and a bit of a wuss.
After a little bit of Googling I came across Emu Trekkers, a not for profit organisation who organise guided hikes in various areas across NSW. I signed up for a 4 hour hike through the Blue Mountains which I looked forward to all week while also feeling pretty great that my money was going towards a good cause, supporting Indigenous literacy.
Yes, thats right - all proceeds go to a 100% not-for-profit charity run by volunteer guides - I felt good about myself and I hadn't even done anything yet!
While I chose not to take this option, the guides (and fellow hikers) all meet at Central Station and ride on the train together, so you don't have any worries about missing your stop or anything like that. Alternatively if you wish to make your own way, they can meet you at Wentworth Falls. Upon all parties assembling at Wentworth Falls station, we got a bit of background about the organisation and the area and then we were off!
My cohort was a mix of different ages and backgrounds, some uni students, some office workers like me as well as some international visitors. Being in a group and meeting some new people was fun, although I have to say there were many periods were we were all walking in a happy silence. So a real balance - don't worry introverts, you can zone out and enjoy the scenery, promise!
Along the way the guides (Chris and Manon) gave us fun and interesting narration about different areas as we passed by. We also found a Bowerbirds nest which I thought was pretty cool.
What to say about the scenery. Amazing, incredible, beautiful, majestic. The views are just drop dead gorgeous and because its so beautiful you kind of don't notice the time passing - when we stopped for lunch about 2 hours in I felt like no time had passed at all!
As I am often stuck in an office, it was just so refreshing being out in the mountain air and forgetting about the hustle and bustle of the city. Back in Victorian times the fresh air of Blue Mountains was seen as a miracle cure for any number of ailments, which made it a popular destination for what we would today probably call 'medical tourism'. Maybe they were on to something because something about all the open space and the crisp clean air that does make you feel pretty amazing.
For the last hour I was pretty knackered but having the rest of the group there and the supportive guides keeping it fun was just the encouragement I needed. I felt a massive sense of accomplishment when I reached the top and felt like I was walking on air the whole way to the train station!
Please be assured you don't need any fancy hiking clothes if you're just starting out - I wore normal pants and sneakers. Just remember to bring something waterproof just in case. Also if you can't be bothered packing your lunch you can grab something from the numerous cafes around Wentworth Falls. Apart from that you don't really need to worry about much, just bring yourself!
In conclusion, just go for it. You dont have to go alone, your can bring a friend or partner, however if you are flying solo for the day also good. Just get out there and enjoy!"
We like to think that anyone who comes on a hiking tour with Emu Trekkers becomes a member of our Emu Trekkers family. For us, this is more than just a bushwalking tour. It is an opportunity to connect, to bring together the community, and make a positive difference to the lives of others.
It has been so exciting to see participants in our first month of operation respond so positively to our guided hiking tours in Manly and the Blue Mountains. To celebrate this milestone, we would like to showcase our first 5 reviews and thank each of the reviewers for spreading the word. It is inspiring to see the idea of Emu Trekkers come to life and make an impact on others.
Emu Trekkers is proud to announce that the proceeds raised from the treks in 2017 will be going to the amazing charity, the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. This Australian charity focuses on improving literacy rates among remote and very remote Indigenous communities in Australia.
Being able to read opens so many doors, but unfortunately, according to the 2017 Closing the Gap report, only 42% of Indigenous Year 5 students in very remote areas in Australia are reaching national minimum reading standards, compared to 94% for non-Indigenous students.
What we love about the Indigenous Literacy Foundation is that they not only give children thousands of new, culturally appropriate books - with a focus on early literacy and first language- but they also run programs to inspire the communities to tell and publish their own stories. Many of these stories, such as Nginingawila Ngirramini – Our Story, are written by the students themselves in their first language and English. These stories focus on their heroes, sacred places and favourite memories.
As the National Indigenous Language Survey has shown, growing up bilingual or with a good knowledge of other languages, not just English, is an advantage for Indigenous Australians. “Far from being ‘irrelevant in the modern world’”, the Survey reports, “the old languages are providing crucial ways of understanding the present and are assisting Indigenous groups to survive as distinct peoples with a unique culture into the future.”
At the time of European arrival, there were 250 distinct Indigenous language groups in Australia. Now, only around 145 of those languages are still spoken and many are on the endangered languages list and are at risk of being lost forever. On global scales, Australia is singled out as the continent where languages are disappearing fastest.
Emu Trekkers wants to support the Indigenous Literacy Foundation as much as it can. So if you are keen to take a positive step, come join us on a trek in Sydney or the Blue Mountains and help us raise funds for this great cause!
So you are considering heading out on your first multi-day bush walk? Or perhaps you have done a long distance walk before but it has been a while and you want to refresh your knowledge.
Here are 5 simple tips to make the experience that much more pleasurable
1. Pack light
One of the most common errors made by first-time hikers is carrying too much stuff in your backpack that you do not really need. These may be items such as heavy books, appearance items such as hairbrushes, chairs or excessive amounts of clothing. There are multitude of pack checklists available freely on the internet these days. The important thing is to choose a list that suits the conditions you will be hiking in, whether it is desert sun or coastal rain, and stick it to it. Do not add more. Remember, on a multi-day hike, you are going to get dirty and smelly. You have to just live with it and remember that it is not date-night.
2. Test out your shoes before you go
Making sure you have the right footwear is one of the most important things when going on a multi-day walk. It can determine whether you love the experience or hobble off back home never to return again.
There is much discussion as to whether you should wear heavy leather hiking boots or lighter weight, but less sturdy, runners. Very little of this discussion is particularly scientific, and it probably depends on your personal comfort as well as the conditions of the walk and the cost of the shoes.
One thing that you should always do before starting a multi-day hike however, regardless of your shoe preference, is test them before you go. Being confident that your shoes will not give you blisters will make a huge difference in the long run.
3. Be safe
These days most multi-day hikes are never too far away from roads and other signs of human life. Yet, this does not mean you should abandon some basic safety precautions. If you are going out without a professional guide, make sure you tell people where you are going, carry maps, compass and a first aid kit, and if you are going more remote some emergency device such as a personal locator beacon. For those who saw the movie 127 hours, you get a sense of what can happen when you fail to follow some of these basic tips.
If it is your first walk, it is also a good idea to choose a walk within your fitness and skill capacity. Start with a two-day walk to test gear before you commence a walk like Larapinta in Australia or the Pacific Crest Trail in the USA.
4. Start early
One of best things you can do to ensure you get the most out of a multi-day walk is start early in the day. Having the full day to walk means you will not be in such a rush to get to a campsite before dark, it will give you more time to rest, and it will also allow to get through several kilometres of walking before the heat of the day starts. This is really important in hotter climates where you want to minimise fatigue and not use up all your water at once.
In all likelihood, you probably will not have the best sleep of your life the first night in the tent so you are probably going to be awake early the next day. Starting early will also help alter your body clock for this as well so that you adjust to the natural circadian rhythms of the bush.
5. Walk with friends
Walking with others has several benefits when going out bush on a multi-day hike. First, there are others to help you if something goes wrong or someone gets injured. Also, you can reduce your overall pack weight by sharing equipment such as tents, cooking pots, gas cylinders and safety items. Bushwalking standards normally recommend that you walk in groups of three or more as a precaution. Finding the right number is ultimately up to you. Lastly, there is joy to be had in walking with friends. Who can forget the famous last words of Into the Wild, “happiness is best when shared”.