A mountain of a task

COVERING 150 kilometres of mountainous terrain in just 11 days is the task in front of Thomas Whylie.

The Catholic College Sale student will set off on his journey on April 1, accompanied by nine other youths on a hike from Mt Howitt to Mittagundi.

While the distance and terrain will provide a daunting task, the reason behind the trek raising money for the Wollangarra outdoor education centre is something that means a lot to Thomas.

“My parents first encouraged me to get involved (with Wollangarra) when I was about 10,” Thomas said.

“We went up there for their annual open day and since I first went up there I’ve really enjoyed it; you can just forget about everything that is happening.”

The outdoor education centre is independently run and aims to give young people an introduction to the great outdoors, as well as providing a greater understanding of environmental issues.

Located just south of Licola, the camp regularly hosts school groups and provides financial scholarships to underprivileged students who would otherwise be unable to attend.

This is where the majority of money raised by Thomas and his counterparts will be headed.

“They bring a lot of people up from Melbourne who don’t normally get to go out into the bush, so they give the people from there a chance to get away, put their phones down for a week and reconnect with their friends face to face,” Thomas said.

“There’s no electricity, so the whole thing is powered by wood.”

Just like the students who attend Wollangarra, Thomas and the nine other hikers will be getting back in touch with nature.

Taking with them only what they can carry on their back means each individual will be lugging close to 30 kilograms of equipment during the hike, however Thomas is confident his training will stand him in good stead.

“I’ve been going for runs and that up near Mount Margaret, putting some bricks in a pack and walking up and down those hills,” he said.

Carrying his food, tent and sleeping bag will provide an additional challenge, but Thomas will be determined to finish the walk in memory of his grandfather, Thomas Hill, also an enthusiastic bush walker, who died recently.

Those who would like to donate to the walk can visit www.wollangarra.org.au/donate or phone 5148 0492.