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Hiking Australia to Help Kids

Take in a view like this for a good cause. © Sylvia Yang

Emu Trekkers is a new volunteer based organisation who are passionate about getting us outdoors and into the Australian bush whilst helping those less fortunate.

We caught up with CEO and Founder, Tristan Harley, on what inspired him to start Emu Trekkers and his dreams for the future of the organisation.

  1. What inspired you to start Emu Trekkers?

In early 2016, my wife Rutty Talati and I decided to take a break from our careers to travel and volunteer. We had both been working hard in our professions, my wife as a paediatric doctor and myself as a lawyer, but felt that we needed to go and explore a little and grow together from all our experiences.

During the first part of our adventure in Central America, we encountered Quetzaltrekkers, a not-for-profit organisation offering hiking tours to raise awareness and funds to educate kids in need. We signed up to do a multi-day hike firstly in Leon, Nicaragua, and then secondly in Xela in Guatemala. After days of hiking through the amazing volcanic ecosystems of Guatemala and Nicaragua with passionate guides volunteering their time, we kept asking ourselves the question, “What would happen if we set up something similar in Australia?” “Would it work?” Perhaps we were searching for something, or perhaps the travel itself opened our minds to new possibilities and opportunities.

So we rushed back to Sydney at the end of our holiday to start setting up Emu Trekkers, drawing inspiration from the organisation that first planted the seed in our mind. Our mission, “Hike Australia. Help Kids”.

Rutty and Tristan hiking in Nicaragua.

2. What is the purpose of your organisation?

Emu Trekkers is a tour organisation that operates unlike any other in Australia. It is 100% not-for-profit. All the proceeds go towards helping disadvantaged children and youth with their health, education and welfare. All our tour guides give their time voluntarily because they want to share their love of the Australian environment and make a difference to the cause. We believe we are the only not-for-profit, outdoors tour operator in Australia run entirely by volunteer guides.

3. Where do your treks currently operate?

Emu Trekkers currently offer guided treks around the national parks of Sydney and the World-Heritage listed Blue Mountains. We offer introductory walks to people visiting Australia, or locals who are not used to hiking in the outdoors and want to safely discover what the Australian bush has to offer. We are also planning to launch multi-day hikes in the near future.

4. What is the best thing about an experience with Emu Trekkers?

The best thing is that you get to genuinely engage with the local community and discover Sydney’s amazing nature, all the while helping kids in need. Our guides are passionate about sharing their love of the outdoors. They are committed to conservation of the environment and raising awareness about some of the social and environmental issues affecting Australia today. Among our guides, we have doctors, engineers, historians, scientists, business people, retirees, students, lawyers. Each guide has a unique story to tell about this amazing place we call home.

Emu Trekkers guides are committed to conservation and raising awareness for environmental issues. © Cody Black

5. What is the ultimate dream for your organisation?

Although we are a small organisation, we are dreaming big. Our aim for Emu Trekkers is to create experiences which may in a some small way change or shape the way our participants see the world. We want to inspire people to make a positive difference to this planet, drawing upon whatever skills and resources that they have. For us, hiking through the local bushland is the perfect place for such inspiration.

6. How is your organisation helping disadvantaged youth?

All the money raised from our tours currently goes to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation to support its efforts to improve literacy among children in remote Indigenous communities in Australia. What we love about the Indigenous Literacy Foundation is that it not only gifts thousands of new culturally appropriate books — with a focus on early literacy and first language- but it runs programs to inspire the communities to tell and publish their own stories.

We also have plans to offer walks to disadvantaged children to help them develop confidence, resilience, self and social awareness, cooperation, trust, and teamwork through nature-based treks.We believe that our hikes can foster a positive attitude to challenge and adventure, increased environmental awareness, a connection to the land and Australian culture, and increased motivation toward learning.

For more information, about Emu Trekkers visit www.emutrekkers.org