At OTBT, our passion lies in crafting unforgettable outdoor experiences that transcend boundaries and create lasting memories. Recently, we had the incredible opportunity to partner with the First Hike Project in Perth for an expedition that remains etched in our hearts—the Stirling Range & Porongurup 5 Peak Adventure.
First Hike Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing all-expenses-paid hiking and camping experiences to youth from refugee backgrounds in Australia. Their mission is to introduce newcomers to the country to the beauty of nature, fostering a sense of belonging and connection to their new home. These overnight adventures in the Australian bush include culturally sensitive provisions, equipment, and guidance by experienced volunteers. The organization aims to break down social barriers, creating stronger bonds between participants, volunteers, and the country itself. Founded in 2015 by Neil, an immigrant from South Africa, the initiative has expanded, now boasting over 400 volunteers across the nation, driven by the shared goal of welcoming newcomers and sharing their passion for hiking. First Hike Project seeks to facilitate a smooth transition for refugees, offering them memorable and breathtaking experiences while promoting a sense of belonging and connection to Australia.
Imagine a group of 15 bright and courageous young individuals, recently arrived refugees and migrant students, ready to embrace the raw beauty of the Australian outback. Our collaboration with First Hike Project aimed not only to introduce them to the mesmerizing landscapes but also to provide an avenue for connection, growth, and empowerment.
We kicked off our expedition by establishing base camp amidst the serene surroundings of the Stirling Range. With torches guiding our way, we embarked on the ascent of Bluff Knoll, greeted by a freezing, icy morning. Although thick clouds obscured the view, the spirits remained unwavering and enthusiasm soared.
Our next challenge beckoned—a Class 5 climb up the majestic Talyuberlup peak, promising a breathtaking sunset. Most participants embraced this challenge with determination, while a few opted to rest their legs from the dawn hike. The Porongorup’s granite peaks awaited us the following day, adorned with the wonders of nature—a roaming dugite and the majestic Granite Skywalk.
Every step of this journey was a testament to resilience and unity. The experiences shared amidst these natural wonders left an indelible mark on each participant. They conquered physical peaks and, in turn, discovered the strength within themselves. These moments will undoubtedly accompany them as they acclimate to life in their new home, Australia.
For us at Off The Beaten Track, facilitating this adventure was an honor beyond measure. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to our lead guide, Sarah, and the remarkable First Hike Project Team—Louise, Anne, Reza, and Anas—for their unwavering support and dedication.
It transcends boundaries, celebrates diversity, and fosters connections that bridge cultures and communities. Through the language of nature, we found common ground and created lifelong memories, embodying the true spirit of adventure and inclusion.
As we reflect on this transformative journey, we are reminded that the wilderness not only reveals the grandeur of nature but also illuminates the resilience and unity within us all.