It was Sunday morning around 11.00am, we were riding our bikes up a steep and windy track towards the top of mount Majura. For what seemed like the 50th time that day, I once again got off my bike and walked around a sharp and rocky bend in the track. "Have I bitten of more than I can chew?" I thought to myself.
With most national parks still off-limits after the summer bushfires, I’d signed up for a three-day Duke of Edinburgh mountain bike trip through the untamed wilderness of Canberra’s green spaces – Mt Majura, Mt Stromlo, and parts of the Canberra Centenary Trail. This was the Practice Journey for my Silver Award.
In hindsight, however, that track was certainly challenging but not as impossible as it seemed at the time. In fact, it was these challenges that made this Duke of Ed trip so rewarding. Two days later while biking up a similar track at Mount Stromlo, this time with relative ease, I realised that my mountain biking skills had improved tremendously. I no longer gripped the brakes as if my life depended on it, I was able to approach berms with relative ease, and most importantly, it no longer felt like I was going to crash into every tree along the way.
I would never have been able to learn these new skills if the trip had been easy. You grow as a person when you are forced to go out of your comfort zone, and during our mountain biking Adventurous Journey every single one of us was challenged in this way. There was no opportunity to give up, you had to keep going, and you had to adapt. This Duke of Edinburgh journey has really taught me that no matter how impossible something may seem, you are able to do it. All you need is some determination and a willingness to give things a go. Above all, you need to believe in yourself.
None of us would have come as far if it were not for the people around us. One of the best parts of any Duke of Ed trip is the people you get to know and spend time with. On this journey, the group seemed extra special – the encouragement everyone received from one another was remarkable.
This journey was truly one of the best experiences I have ever had. Not only did I learn a new skill - I was able to explore some of Canberra’s hidden gems and enjoy the beautiful natural environment Canberra has to offer. Most of all, I grew as a person - I was challenged and became more confident as a result. I think I can say that all the girls who went on this trip had a similar experience. This is the beauty of the Duke of Ed program; it forces you out of your comfort zone and helps you to not only gain new life skills, but to become a stronger, more confident human being.
Thank you to Mr Crisp for organising and guiding us during the trip, and Ms Chalker for accompanying us.
Students interested in finding out more about the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award should contact Mr Nick Crisp.
Lize van der Walt
Photo at top: Lize van der Walt leading the group as they explored Canberra’s hidden gems.