A Collaborative Adventure with First Hike Project

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.

At its core, this collaboration epitomizes the essence of "Welcome."

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.

 

Tracy,

Kind words from Neil, Founder of First Hike Project

I feel privileged to be writing this testimonial for Off the Beaten Track (OTBT) and all of those on Tracy’s team who helped us achieve an amazing adventurous experience for our participants. We found OTBT incredibly easy to work with and they took all our KPI’s on board when designing our bespoke adventure. Not only were all our participants treated to world-class service and equipment, but they had their imaginations feed whilst being cared for 24/7.

Our mandate at First Hike Project Inc is to provide overnight hiking and camping adventures for newly arrived youth from refugee backgrounds. There are many personal, physical, and cultural needs that must be considered when planning an event involving this cohort and OTBT managed to achieve excellence in this arena. We are happy to report that, not only did the event go ahead without any incident or emergency whilst tackling a variety of peaks and walks in the Stirling Ranges, but we heard such amazing feedback about the insight this gave our participants into their new home country.

First Hike Project believes that hiking is a great way to break down any perceived or real barriers between groups of people, creating greater connections between participants, volunteers, guides, and this wonderful country. The immersive hiking experience allows participants to strengthen their connection to Australia and ultimately to feel more at home here, integrating them in a unique way to the fabric of Australian social, economic, and civil life. Hiking is a new experience for these young people, and participants go on to develop greater resilience in navigating their new home and lives, expanding their networks, and taking up new new opportunities including potential employment.

We would like to thank Off the Beaten Track for coming along on this journey and welcoming our participants in the same way we do.
Cheers, Neil

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