By Jody Hammond
Woohoo! Here at Emu Trekkers we are both proud and humbled to be awarded the gold prize for adventure tourism at this year’s NSW Tourism Awards, announced last week.
Acknowledging the great work of our volunteers, the NSW Business Chamber recognised our passion, skills and the work we do to raise money for children’s charities. While we were announced as winners of adventure tourism, there was also talk of how we are at the forefront of what may become known as social tourism.
There are more than 50 volunteers of all ages in our team. In their ‘other lives’, they are doctors, designers, marketers, lawyers, scientists, engineers and retirees, among other things.
Behind the scenes, we have volunteers doing the marketing and PR, business development, bookings, volunteer co-ordination, walk provisioning and website design and management. At the front end, our volunteers are leading walks from the Spit to Manly in Sydney, Blue Mountains (overnight and day walks) and the Royal National Park overnight. In the two years since we launched, we have gone from offering one walk to five different overnight treks and walks. As the judges of the tourism awards noted, a “wonderful tourism product” with a “high ethic” and “charitable foundations”.
We combine our expertise to run a not-for-profit business that puts smiles on so many faces – from our participants to the beneficiaries of our donations to ourselves. As our volunteer Tad put it: “I always enjoy hearing the stories and perceptions of people that come from all over the world. In return, I share my knowledge about the bush, history and life in Australia. The train ride back is quiet as we all rest our tired legs and take in the sense of accomplishment. I'm super proud of the entire Emu Trekker organisation for being awarded Best Adventure Tourism by the NSW Tourism Board.”
Some of the milestones we reached over the past year include:
Our ears and eyes are constantly open to feedback, but we get especially chuffed when we receive feedback like we did from this happy trekker, who posted the following on TripAdvisor:
My husband and I hiked with Emu Trekkers and had a wonderful day. Our guides, Sandra and Chris met us in the morning and our group rode the train together into the Blue Mountains enjoying the scenery and getting to know each other. The hike begins at the Wentworth Falls train station where we alighted and was well paced with enough time to enjoy the waterfalls and spectacular views while learning about the non profit Emu Trekkers supports with volunteers including both our guides. A highlight of our visit to Sydney!
We so enjoyed our day that we signed up for the half day 'Sydney Harbour Sunset Hike to Manly Beach', two days later. Tristan was our guide this day so we had a double bonus being he is the founder of this non-profit and grew up in Manly Beach! Lots of enlightening conversation accompanied by a beautiful hike to Manly.
Having only 5 days vacation in Sydney, we are so glad we spent 2 of them hiking with Emu Trekkers and these wonderful volunteer guides.
Next step for us is … off to Canberra for the National Tourism Awards which will be presented in March.