12 September 2018 Emily Yong   | News | Extra-Curricular  
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Michael Lopes Year 11

On the 24th of August, a group of year 9, 10 and 11 students completed the 2 – day bronze Duke of Edinburgh hike with Ms Yong, Mr Howard and Ms Coutinho. With the threat of rain, it wasn’t until the afternoon before that we decided that we would complete the hike. We met at Strathfield station at 8:30am with our 65 Litre bags packed and covered along with our raincoats and jackets zipped up. We arrived at Cowan railway station just after 9:30am and were greeted by the sun, blue skies and about 2000 Oxfam hikers, who completed a 100km hike for charity.

We began our 14Km journey through Jerusalem Bay with the year 11’s leading, as they were completing their qualifier. After a long day battling the heat, we arrived at our campsite at Brooklyn Dam after 3:30pm. We set up our tents and prepared ourselves for the evenings events. This was dinner, bonding activities and fun with our friends. We ended the night early at around 8:00pm with marshmallows. The next morning began bright and early at 7:00am. We packed up our tents, ate breakfast and prepared ourselves for the rest of the hike. We left at 8:00am and arrived at Hawkesbury River train station before 10:00am making the train as the doors were closing. Our journey had come to an end.

Overall, the hike was a very enjoyable experience that I would definitely recommend to anyone and everyone. It is time that we can spend as a group, away from our technological devices, while getting to know our classmates better. It is also a very challenging experience that tests you both mentally and physically. Finally, I’d like to thank Ms Yong, Mr Howard and Ms Coutinho for volunteering their Saturday and their free time away from their friends and family to supervise us and guide us through this challenge.

Duy Quang Mai Year 10

Throughout my hike for Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award from Brooklyn to Cowan, there was one thing I could never forget in my life and it was the first steep climb uphill. I actually thought I might faint and could not fulfil the challenging climb as I was not at all used to this rigorous use of physical effort. During that part of the hike, my eyes really did blur away and my limbs were all like boiled noodles - which are easily squashed. I had that urge to just stop for a second in the middle of the climb then I would go. But after seeing all members of the hike climbing up so unrestrained, I kept on pushing myself forward, thinking, “Okay, after this you may scorn upon your stupidity for having missed four weeks of running in the Running Club – as it could somewhat prepare yourself for this terror. But not now. Now, you climb as vigorously as when you’re procrastinating doing all of your schoolwork.” After such gibberish jumbles of thoughts, I actually did reach the flat ground unknowingly. In conclusion, my overthinking self was finally proved useful at times of dire need for physical support, especially during the fun-filled Duke of Edinburgh hike.

Peter Gock Year 11

An aspect of completing the Duke of Edinburgh is to do an adventurous journey/walk. The walk is long and difficult. On top of this, everything that you bring is carried by yourself in a large pack (e.g. Food, clothes, water). This walk is also conducted over 2 days and 1 night, meaning you must also carry a tent to sleep in. My advice to doing the Duke of Edinburgh walk is to be well prepared and understand the expectations of doing such a walk. The walk is difficult alone and constantly carrying a heavy pack will just make it harder. Understanding the difficulty of the walk is essential as you need to know what you are getting yourself into and whether you’re capable to do such an exhausting task.

Fitness is another key to completing the walk. If you are unfit, the walk will make it extremely difficult and you might not be able to complete it. However, if you have a high fitness level, the walk will be easier for you. I would also recommend packing early and get used to the weight of the pack. Doing this can make you well prepared early for the walk as well as make the weight of your pack less daunting as you have accustomed yourself to its weight. The weight of your pack should also not be more than 25% of your own body weight. My final suggestion would be to bring enough water. Water is essential to completing the walk as it hydrates and energises you to continue walking. An insufficient amount of water will lead to dehydration and muscle cramps, making it harder for you to complete the walk.

Lakshaya Kaushik Year 9

The year, my mates and I performed a hike from Cowan to Brooklyn. We did the hike as a part of the Duke of Edinburgh course. Even though the hike was short, I learnt a number of life lessons from the hike that will come in handy in the future. The hike was 14 km long, and consisted of many challenges. Our Duke of Ed team managed to complete the hike in two days, and camped overnight at a campsite next to a very beautiful dam.

When we finally got rest, after a long day of walking with fifteen kilos on our backs, the feeling of joy we felt from inside was priceless. Even the food we had after finishing, felt like we had just won a trophy in a marathon. This taught me that the harder you work for something, the sweeter the rewards get. This experience also taught me the value of the simple things that we might take for granted, as at our campsite the ground we had to sleep on was very bumpy and hard (something we are not used to), which caused bad sleep and drowsiness the next day. Just imagine sleeping on very hard and bumpy ground everyday.

Just like the terrain in the hike, there are always ups and downs in life, your life can never stay stable. This experience taught me that, because life is always unstable it is alright when you go through the ups and downs, as they are unstoppable. But what matters more is what your reaction is towards it. I learnt that, when you are low, you should realise where you went wrong and learn from the mistakes, so you don’t make the same mistakes again. While on the other hand, when you are high, try not to be overconfident and stay level headed. This helps to maintain balance.

In conclusion, this hike taught me plenty of life lessons that I will come in handy in the future while dealing with real life problem, as it taught me to value the simple things around me; the harder you work for something, the sweeter the reward gets; learn from your past mistakes; and not to be overconfident.

Evan Xiong Year 9

The Duke of Edinburgh was an experience of a lifetime, you will never get another chance like this. I got to interact with other hikers who encourage and support you during the hike.  This 13.4km hike from Cowan-Brooklyn had rugged rocks, steep hills, my heavy backpack and the burning sun which resulted from me to challenge myself, physically and mentally. When completing the hill, a sense of relief and accomplishment flows through you. You feel different. I am not sure how but you just feel different.

Duke of Ed also gave me an opportunity to see a different part of NSW. A NSW that is more green and natural. This taught me the importance of keeping nature clean. While hiking you get to appreciate the surrounding trees and lakes. Duke of Ed has given me a guide of sleeping in the open where there's no civilisation. I had to learn to set-up tents, be resourceful. As I had limited resources. Also sleeping for me was difficult as in the night it was pitch-black and I have to sleep on the hard surface. Thus, I had a bad night.

Duke of Edinburgh is not easy, so you must be prepared. Your hips, shoulders and legs will suffer. The path is not some normal footpath. It is full of rocks and broken branches. You have to learn to manoeuvre your way quickly through rocks that can cause blisters in your leg. Additionally, you need a lot of water, without it, there is no way you survive the heat, the weight of your body and the steep endless hills.

The most challenging part of the hike was hiking endlessly uphills to Brooklyn. My legs just died. As once I reached the top of one hill, there’s just another hill that just as steep. It psychologically affected me. However, the encouragement of the other hikers and them having to wait for me, pushed me to reach the top. Soon the hike turned into a test of endurance for me. I wanted to stop, but I figured out some strategies along the way that make the last 3km easy. As I was able to make ground quickly.

These strategies include:

  • Drinking constant water
  • Play my playlist on Spotify
  • Talking to others 

Duke of Edinburgh is something you must experience yourself. Everyone’s experience is different. You are certain to have fun.

Yoshua Tsang Year 9

On Friday 24 of August, boys from years 9, 10 and 11 accompanied by Ms Yong, Mr Howard and Ms Coutinho met at Strathfield Station to board a train to Cowan where we would see the last of civilisation for the next day. Arriving at Cowan early in the morning, we set off on the Great North Walk heading towards Brooklyn, our destination. This track we soon learnt however, was being hiked on (or ran by some) by about 3000 Oxfam Trailwalkers who were travelling in the opposite direction to our Duke of Ed group for almost half the Friday. This meant that we would have to step aside or off the track every ten or so metres. The highlight of this Bronze practice hike for me would have to be the view we got on our first break at around 11am overlooking Jerusalem Bay and Cowan Creek. This half an hour break or so was also blessed with beautiful weather, a hopeful change from the forecasts we were told of and overcast skies given at the beginning of the day. Overall, this Bronze Duke of Edinburgh taken place from 24-25 August 2018 was a hike where any of us got to know one another much better over the day or so, as well as being challenged physically at certain stages in the hike, and learning a few skills in navigation throughout the hike.