By Bianca Miller (14 years)
The group arrived at Wharncliff Mill, Margaret River in Western Australia with a great adventure ahead of them. 3 and a bit hours in a bus from Perth after an overnight flight from Singapore meant they were exhausted. So day 1 was mostly about unpacking and briefing for the journey ahead. After everything was unpacked and all the students were sorted into their dorms they packed their day bags with waterproofs and headed off into town. Margaret River is about a 2km walk from where we were staying so not far as the students wouldn’t have been able to go much further that day. They grabbed what essentials they needed from town and went straight back despite being caught in a bit of a downpour. And later that afternoon Josh, a Wadandi clan custodian did a ‘Welcome to Country’ and played an awesome didgeridoo!
Canoeing the Blackwood
The Blackwood is a river running to the south of a little town called Margaret River which is about 3 hours south from Perth. This was one of the many little expeditions that were on the trip. Paddling a total of 17km from a campsite called Sues Bridge, to Hut Pool, where we got out over 2 days as most of the team hadn’t paddled before or even knew how to. Gear was packed into a 75L dry bag and shared between two people, this was fitted into the middle compartment of a 3 person canoe. The first day of canoeing we paddled approximately 8 hours with the next day being 3 hours on the water. Canoeing was a learning experience as well as a lot of fun. Boats were flipped, we were in laughter and by most means having the time of our lives. But that was not all……..
Caving and abseiling in Brides cave
No it most certainly was not all, not even close! After the river, we trekked to another campsite called Point Road in Boranup forest, with massive 60m Karri trees. This was where we would set off on our walk to the caves and sinkholes. The group was split into 2 smaller groups and while one was adventure caving the other would be abseiling. Nervous and excited the team went one by one; some very hesitantly and others not at all, down the practice cliff face which was about 8 meters. Three lines were set up on the practice face, 2 of them 8 meters and the other 10 meters. After everyone had had a go on the practice faces we set off for another trek to Brides Cave.
Brides Cave got given the name in the 1900s because it was a place where people would get married as here were lots of beautiful trees and lovely bushes. However, over the years with the rains the water was being collected on the surface and since it was a cave there was not much support. Over a couple of years the cave roof started getting weaker and weaker when suddenly it just collapsed leaving a sinkhole and a great place for abseiling. It is about a 35 meter drop and 28 meters of it is freefalling. As you looked up while abseiling, trees and natural limestone sculptures filled the scenery making it a breathtaking experience.
Being kitted up in all the caving equipment such as, helmets, flashlights as well as overalls was making the group more and more excited. Creeping through small gaps and finding your way into large underground chambers past limestone sculptures in the cave roof was just amazing.
Cape to cape trek
This walk is for trekkers that goes from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin. We trekked with all our bags so minimum luggage which the instructors checked at the beginning. We walked in massive Karri forests, then high up along the sea cliff edge’s with white sandy beaches beside turquoise blue waters below. Along the way we saw western grey kangaroos, little Euros (type of Kangaroo) and a mulga Snake - one of Australia’s well known poisonous snakes. Our campsite was a sheltered clearing with overhanging trees and dunes right next to the sea. A gorgeous place to camp and easily accessible to the surf!
We arrived at the campsite and unpacked. The same two groups took turns surfing the crystal clear waters of Redgate beach with instructors coming and teaching them how. By the end everyone knew how to surf. We had small briefs about the techniques of surfing and got kitted up in full wetsuits. The freezing cold waters didn’t seem that cold as we were concentrating on catching waves. And as the instructors pointed out at the end, we were all grommets!! (Aussie term for young surfers).
Rock climbing at Wilyabrup Sea Cliffs
Nearly coming to the end of the trip we finished on a fantastic note. Climbing the soaring cliffs of Wilyabrup next to the sea was amazing. Lots of different lines were set up for different skill levels. They were all put in groups of three: one was the climber the other the belayer, and the last one, the backup belayer in case of help. The group was able to belay one another and felt secure about doing so.
Over the course of the trip the group learned a lot of new life skills and other outdoor abilities that possibly they would never have learned anywhere else. It was an incredible and life changing experience...