In May, the Step Up for Kids' Cancer Larapinta trek team Kristen Lopes, Greg McCann, Olivia Boyages
and Jack Hamilton
completed a once in a lifetime hiking adventure in Central Australia to support The Kids' Cancer Project
(TKCP), a charity committed to fighting children’s cancer and improving the lives of those suffering.
The trek was part of our major fundraiser Step Up for Kids' Cancer for TKCP that was due to take place in August 2021, but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year our people walked, ran or hiked the Larapinta Trail virtually instead, and raised $64,000 for TKCP.
This year's Step Up for Kids' Cancer fundraiser has raised over $66,000
for TKCP! The funds raised will help TKCP fund scientific research that will translate in accessible treatment to improve the outcomes of kids diagnosed with cancer.
The trek covering 65 kilometres in six days had its challenges for the trekkers. Overcome by the beauty of the rugged land, the group encountered some of the most incredible aspects of Australia's ancient landscape.
Below our trekkers regale their highlights and provide some useful tips for anyone wanting to take on the Larapinta challenge.
"I was very honoured to walk with Kristen, Olivia and Jack to represent Colin Biggers & Paisley, in undertaking the Larapinta Trek for and with the Kids' Cancer Project.
We were with eight other trekkers who were participating with the same goal, supporting kids to survive cancer.
The walk was hot and tough in some parts, but, as everyone said, it was nothing compared to what kids with cancer have to endure. We were all very proud to be part of the team.
The walk commenced on the first day with trekking the first stage of the Larapinta Trail, which commences on the outskirts of Alice Springs. It was 14 kilometres of undulating terrain, in hot conditions. We were rewarded with a swim in Ellery Creek Gorge, which was ideal to soothe the muscles and prepare for the next day.
We then travelled onto our Bush Base Camp, located about 130 kilometres west of Alice Springs.
The bush camp included tents or swags, an open fire, great BBQ food and good company. Except for the mice plague, ideal.
Sleeping, in the open, under the Milky Way, was the highlight.
Our guides were very experienced with Indigenous culture, native fauna and flora and the history of the landscape. It was great to hear about the Aboriginal history and the uses of the many plants.
The walks each day then continued to impress with magnificent mountains, gorges and swimming holes.
The walk up Mt Sonder, commencing at 3am under the stars and moonlight, using headlamps, arriving at the top at 6.30am for the sunrise at 7am, was amazing and worth every step.
Our last day was a casual 10 kilometre walk into Ormiston Pound, with a river crossing and swim, where we were joined by the next group of 12 trekkers undertaking the same trek for the Kids' Cancer Project.
The tips we passed on to the next team were gratefully received. Placing your tent bed outside the tent, in lieu of a swag, to soak in the stars (and avoid the mice), was a favourite.
I highly recommend the trek. It is an amazing ancient landscape that is unique to Australia." Greg McCann
"This trek forced me to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of life and instead to reconnect with myself and nature. I was completely focussed on each step forward, the sound of the birds, the crickets and the breeze. I didn’t drink a single coffee all week, but I didn't need it - the 10-20 kilometre walks every day in the fresh air were caffeine enough. Exhausted at the end of the day, I would fall asleep in my sleeping bag reading my book by the light of my headtorch. I wasn't quite as game as Jack and Greg to sleep under the blanket of stars, but luckily I was too tired to hear the mice foraging through our tent.
I think my favourite walk was the Ormiston Pound walk on the last day. We traversed large boulders and marvelled at the rock formations, before capping it all off with a river crossing. With our boots strung around our necks and our bags held overhead, we waded through the bitterly cold water over mossy rocks and sand." Olivia Boyages
"The Mount Sonder summit hike was a strenuous but unforgettable experience. It starts and finishes from the Redbank Gorge and required a 1.30am wake up time to ensure we had sufficient time to reach the summit of Mount Sonder and capture the beautiful sunrise. The views all the way up Mount Sonder were magnificent and, once you reach the top, you are rewarded with some of the most spectacular views all along the West MacDonnell ranges. The hike is not for the faint-hearted but well worth the effort." Jack Hamilton
"The 8 kilometre trek up Mount Sonder in the dark, by torch light, starting at 3am to watch the sunrise at 7am and then descend 8 kilometre along the same trail was the highlight of the trip for me. One of the guides said that it would be the highlight of the trek and, he was right. It was.
When we started the trek up Mount Sonder, I could not see more than a metre in front of me. The night air was crisp and the stars were bright, providing limited light. I could also see the torch light of other trekkers off in the distance but little else. We knew that we had an 8 kilometre ascent but could not see the terrain so we literally focussed on the immediate steps in front of us. We also knew that the ascent would take between 3 to 4 hours so that guided us. However, we had to primarily rely on our mental resolve going up given the lack of external stimuli to guide us. I was focused on the moment… of each step going up the rugged trail. That is something that I rarely do. I am usually juggling many competing interests and am bombarded with demands on my time. It was a luxury to be solely focussed on the moment. Whether members of the team realised it or not, we had to trek in step up the mountain. In doing so, we trekked in unison which reminded me of basic training. It was then exhilarating to watch the sun rise when we reached the top. The temperature was just above 0 degrees so we huddled in a team as we watched with anticipation. It was a great sense of accomplishment, knowing that we had all gotten to the top of Mount Sounder, together. After watching the sun rise, we then started our journey down. It was fascinating to see the terrain we had travelled along with the beauty of our surrounds that we were largely oblivious to on the way up. Again, I was very much "in the moment" and soaked it all in.
More generally, the trek was a great example of how effective "collaboration" can be. As a group of 12, we each had different strengths on the trek. We shared the benefits of those individual strengths to become a stronger unit. For me that was exemplified going up Mount Sonder." Kristen Lopes