In June, Mission Australia CEO James Toomey took on Together we Trek alongside a group of passionate Mission Australia supporters. Over five days, the group trekked more than 60 kilometres along the Larapinta Trail in the Northern Territory. From exploring the mountains, valleys and rivers, to summiting Mount Sonder at sunrise, and camping under a sea of stars at night, the group bonded over their shared passion for the services Mission Australia provides across the country to reduce homelessness and strengthen communities.
We spoke to James to hear about what the adventure meant to him:
You recently travelled to the Australian Outback on the Together we Trek challenge. What were some of your personal highlights?
My favourite memory was trekking to the summit of Mt Sonder for sunrise. While it was far from easy trekking in the darkness, we persevered and were rewarded with the most spectacular sunrise and incredible views across the MacDonnell Ranges. Once at the top, we shared such an amazing sense of achievement for all that we had overcome to reach that point.
I was awestruck by the commitment shown by the group to raise money for Mission Australia. I found myself at times quite emotional as I watched people pushing themselves through physical barriers of discomfort and near exhaustion to raise money to help disadvantaged and vulnerable young Australians.
Some other personal highlights included:
– Learning about the Aboriginal culture, history and Dreamtime story of Creation of the area. This allowed us to gain a different perspective and a deeper understanding of the land we were visiting.
– Watching the team grow together and overcome personal challenges both physically and emotionally. It was inspiring to see everyone supporting each other and really embracing the name Together we Trek.
What was the most challenging part of the adventure?
The trail itself was challenging at times. A lot of the walk was very loose and stony underfoot, which meant that each distance took a great deal longer as each footstep was a considered move.
How did you choose the location of your adventure?
As an Australian charity we felt a strong desire to select a local adventure and if possible one in the state or territory where the service we are fundraising for resides. Upon review of the adventure options in Australia, we were able to align Together we Trek with the need for a Missionbeat service in the Northern Territory.
We work extremely closely with Indigenous communities, and currently 20% of people accessing our services identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. Increasing awareness of disadvantage is part of our Reconciliation Action Plan and Together we Trek enabled both a fundraising and an advocacy alignment for our organisation.
In your opinion, what are the key ingredients for a successful adventure?
– A group of passionate and motivated individuals who want to make a positive impact for your cause.
– Professional and enthusiastic trek leaders. We were extremely lucky to have two guides who were not only incredibly knowledgeable of the local area but were extremely supportive of all participants. They were able to make the group a team and cater to all individual needs.
– Consistent contact in the lead up to the trek. We wanted our participants to feel supported, appreciated and confident ahead of the trek.
How has the fundraising from Together we Trek made a difference to Mission Australia’s goal to launch the Missionbeat service in the Northern Territory?
The trek earlier this year raised a remarkable $74,000 towards our fundraising target of $150,000 and we hope to raise the remaining $76,000 on our second Larapinta trek in May 2019. Every participant walked away from the trek with a deep understanding of the significant need for services in the NT and a richer understanding of Aboriginal culture, and will continue to advocate for vulnerable Australians for many years to come.
Check out the upcoming adventures on our calendar!