WARATAH West Public School kindergarten teacher Emma McCabe has been surrounded by support ever since she set her sights on hiking through Kakadu National Park to raise funds for women’s domestic violence and homelessness support service, Jenny’s Place.
The school and its families have donated funds to be sponsors on Ms McCabe’s personalised jersey and directly to her campaign – and her students were joining her in training before lockdown started.
“It was going to be just over 80 kilometres in a fairly remote area with trek guides – because they lead the way in, you’re not following a set path – and we were going to be carrying everything that we needed for those nine days in a backpack,” she said.
“That was going to weigh about 20 kilograms, so we’ve all been training with sandbags in our backpacks to get ready for it. I’ve been walking around the school a lot, we have hills here and it’s quite a nice area, and during some lunchtimes the students have joined me as well.
“We have trek training some lunchtimes, so if they want to they can carry their school bag because I carry my backpack. They just find a stick to use as a walking stick and trail behind me and we try and see how many laps we can get done during lunch.”
While the Northern Territory’s border closures have forced the trekking group of 12 to reschedule its August 15 to 23 hike to next year, the group is determined to do a 100 kilometre mini trek.
The group is planning to base itself at the BIG4 River Myall Holiday Resort Bulahdelah and do a series of walks from this Saturday to next Wednesday to honour its jersey sponsors, which donated a combined $60,000 to the group.
“We are physically ready to go on the weekend, we just have to wait to see, if we lock down again we will just organise another five days where we can all get together to do the mini trek,” she said.
Ms McCabe has previously completed the 223 kilometre Trek 4 Kids along the Larapinta Trail for Camp Quality and walked the Kokoda Track.
Ms McCabe said she signed up to the Kakadu hike in January after receiving a call from Donna George, who previously worked at Camp Quality but has since moved to Jenny’s Place.
“Doing Larapinta was an amazing experience and just to be able to see that part of the country is just amazing,” Ms McCabe said.
“I enjoy physical challenges as well and it’s a bonus you get to do it for a good cause as well.
“Jenny’s Place totally rely on fundraising, they don’t get any government money to help them.
“Sometimes it’s really hard to know how you can help people that are faced with homelessness, so this is a good way to help.”
Ms McCabe said she also hoped it set a good example for her students.
“It’s a learning experience for them as well – it’s important to think of other people and always help people that are in need, and putting yourself out there, doing something that’s challenging as well is a good experience.”
She has individually raised around $6000, which includes $2000 from the school to be the main sponsor on the front of her jersey.
Donate to the Kakadu Hike now: https://www.mycause.com.au/events/hikeforjennysplace
This piece was published in the Newcastle Herald on 11 August, 2021.
Written by: Helen Gregory. Picture: Marina Neil