Cedars is proud to be affiliated with the Duke of Edinburgh Award, an internationally recognised program for young people that develops leadership, teamwork, community volunteering and outdoor adventure skills.
Recently, a group of Year 11 students, including Emma Atcheson, Tahlia Davidson, Clancy Duncan, Harrison Handicott, Madelin Hopkins, Jessica Humphreys, Madison Judd, Emma Thompson, Connor White, Ashley Wilson, along with Year 12 students Elisha Evans, Sophia Pesavento, Tiana Shannon and Kye Williams, accompanied by Ms Kirsty Martin and led by the College Program Coordinator Mr Neil Taylor, completed a 4 day hike as part of the Gold Level Award.
Located in Katoomba New South Wales, the Blue Mountains National Park is one of the most popular hiking areas in Australia. It consists of blue hazed valleys, incredible sandstone rock formations, rainforests and waterfalls as well as being a home to a large variety of tree and bird species.
The group adventure began with a 9am bus trip from the College to Victoria Falls lookout. With hiking packs fully loaded and compasses in hand, the team had finally embarked on a long awaited and highly anticipated expedition. Under the challenge of cool weather, student leaders took turns to navigate a variety of terrain down into the Grose Valley. Rock paved trails, overgrown grass tracks, large boulders and intermittent creek crossings presented numerous challenges. It wasn’t long before the spectacular ‘Silver Cascades’ came into view, a perfect rest stop before heading on to Burra Korain campsite for the night. The team set up their tents and enjoyed a warm camp fire before cooking a tasty meal.
A beautiful sunrise was the perfect start to the second day of adventures. A steady undulating walk followed the contours of the Grose River into the spectacular Blue Gum Forest where the team navigated through lush shoulder high ferns. Acacia Flat became the group’s base camp for the next two nights. A perfect area to relax, reflect and enjoy each other’s company.
The third day presented a challenging hike up to Lockley Pylon that included a spectacular creek crossing over a huge fallen eucalyptus tree log, traversing up track inclines and scampering cliff face rock steps.
Across the top the group passed through beautiful rolling hills with sweeping green grasslands, contrasted by a backdrop of picturesque valleys and magnificent ridgetops in the distance. The landscape was absolutely amazing and became one of the highlight experiences for many in the group.
Our final day started with an early 3am wakeup call to begin packing up our gear under a clear night sky littered with stars. With head torches on, the group made their way towards Govett’s Leap through a beautiful rain forest with multiple creek crossings. A very challenging climb ensued up to the base of the famous Bridal Veil Falls, where the team took a well earned rest before the final steep climb to the top of Gobvett’s Leap Lookout. An amazing achievement that reminded us how blessed we are to be able to encounter God’s awesome creation through opportunities such as hiking. A final walk led us to Blackheath Trail Station, ready for the return trip home.
Each student is commended for the exemplarily manner in which they represented our College during this trip. The group was truly privileged to experience God’s creation and take the opportunity to reflect on the many ways the Lord can positively impact their lives. Many thanks go out to Ms Kirsty Martin for her support, expertise, passion and enthusiasm throughout the adventure. Importantly, an extended thank you goes out to all parents involved and their ongoing support and encouragement.
We look forward to upcoming exciting adventures throughout the year.
Mr Neil Taylor, Duke of Edinburgh Coordinator.
“This hike was an amazing opportunity for us to reflect and appreciate the simplicity and complexity of nature, as well as create stronger bonds between our peers. We also took time out for devotions and reflections in terms of spirituality. I was very happy to achieve my goal of remaining positive throughout the hike when facing terrain and climate challenges.” – Jessica Humphreys
“I was proud of myself for finishing the hike, even though the track was difficult at times, particularly on the final day. I realise that I can do anything with enough motivation. It was good to develop my team skills to overcome conflict in challenging situations. Next time I would bring more food.” – Sophia Pesavento
“I thoroughly enjoyed this hike and the challenges it held. I was pushed both mentally and physically, but have grown immensely through the experience. Over the course of the four days I witnessed so much beauty and was overwhelmed by the environment and scenery Australia has to offer. As I was pushing myself up the last mountain and had to keep stopping (to catch my breath) and admire God’s creation. This was my final hike for the Duke of Ed Program, and I feel so accomplished and thankful for the experience.” – Elisha Evans