A World of Opportunity 

Lake Argyle | Year 10 - Group 1

This is a story about a gap volunteer, his German companion, two wise leaders and eleven great kids.

   

 

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by Phil Davis

Before I dive straight into everyday life on the luscious Argyle water, let me give you some background information. I am a 19-year-old English Volunteer at Kormilda. When I got an offer to come this school, I was sent an introductory letter which told me a bit about the school and how things functioned for the volunteers. It also contained a small section telling me about the outdoor activities that go on at the College, and I read about Lake Argyle. I then went researched the area, looked at photos online and watched YouTube videos of people exploring these gorgeous, scenic areas, and I knew I wanted to go on this particular camp.

Luckily enough I was told this camp would be great for me and that I could go on it. The prospect of kayaking around a lake that is twenty-five times the size of my home city amazed me. Obviously we weren’t going to complete the entire lake or anywhere near that; however, at times during the week I certainly felt like I conquered much more than I saw on the map!

Day 1 was pretty simple, I just needed to get the boarders, with my fellow volunteers, and get the bus for 10-hour trip to Western Australia. I started to realise what I was in for, as these Year 10s had so much energy at 6am, and I could tell that these guys were going to keep me going for a week and the spirits would be high. We got to Lake Argyle at about 3pm WA time, divided into our groups, and I was also put in a group with Fabian who is a volunteer from Germany. All our luggage had to be transferred from big, bulky bags into small, tightened and waterproof bin liners. It has to be said, this was very stressful and I had literally no idea what I was doing, but with the help of Mr Perry and Christian, Fabian and I finally sorted ourselves out. The sun slowly crept away from us and I started to feel really tired as my eyes were starting to close whilst I was still standing, so we decided to call the first day done. It was 6.27pm! At this point, I felt like an old man. 6.27pm? I was sure it was at least 10 or 11 at night, but I think the bus drive and time difference had confused my body clock a bit.

Early the next morning I was woken up to the sound of birds, leaves blowing gently and Fabian saying ‘Get up!’ in my face whilst repeatedly poking me in the ribs. We packed our tent away, chucked everything we had into the trailer and drove down to the boat ramp where our kayaks were waiting. I had a single for the first two days and it’s safe to say that you do need tiny bin bags for a kayak, as I found packing my stuff into my kayak harder than expected. I got it done, with a little bit of assistance. With my Kayak jam packed with what seemed enough food to feed a rugby team for a month, we set off. I could that tell some of the students had kayaked before, and then I could tell some hadn’t, but with advice from others they were slowly improving. We stopped off at Rock Jump so we could ‘spring’ into action properly on our first day on the water. This was incredible. You’d jump off the rocks and feel like you were in the air for a lifetime before you hit the water. We then carried on for the rest of the day, with a few stops here and there until we reached our camp site. After carrot, cheese and vegemite in wraps for a vile lunch, we pitched our tent. We were all very ready to relax after a hard first day on the water. Most of the boys went off fishing for their dinner, but I stayed at the campsite to play cards and meet Bryn and Hugo. After a restful afternoon, it was time for dinner, which proved to be slightly better than lunch. To end the day, we sat around the fire and chatted. I had found the first day a bit tough because I had been put into a group of people where I only knew one other, and I was in a single kayak so I struggled to talk to anyone. I went to sleep that night, hoping the next day would be more successful for me. Note – deciding not to take a sleeping mat on camp was a bad idea, especially if your campsite is called Rock Shady.

After another early wake up, around 5.30am, we packed up and headed off for what ended up being the longest paddle of the week – well at least it seemed like it. After a good hour of our torsos and arms swaying from side to side, we stopped off for a break where some of us played handball using kayaks as goals, this certainly lifted my mood, and I started to feel like I could become a part of this group. As fun as this stop was, we had to pick up our paddles and carry on to our destination. After searching for shady spots for a while, we set up lunch on a small island. Then we scouted another island about 1km across from where we were – myself and some of the boys swam across with Mr Perry and a few others came in kayaks. As I was swimming into shore, I spotted a wallaby hopping across where we would eventually be spending the night, with a dying sun in the background, and that was, for sure, one of the best sights of my time at the lake. The day had been particularly long and taxing for our bodies, so Fabian and I decided we need a whole bag of pasta mixed in with beans and other veg. That filled a spot. At the campsite, I saw not just my first croc but my second, third and fourth as well, just their eyes and mouths out of the water, looking at who was sleeping in their beds that night!

Wednesday was hump day, it was the sort of day that 'makes or breaks you' because if you get through it well then you're in a good mindset for the rest of the camp as you'll be thinking we are halfway and going strong. That's definitely how I felt, I just tried to power through as it was another big paddle around 12/13km if I remember correctly. I paddled with Jarryd, great guy. He definitely helped keep me going, with some funny jokes and chat about our families. Getting to the campsite that night felt awesome and I started to feel like I was achieving so much. Just before I went to bed on Wednesday, we all stared up at the stars talking about everything we could see. It was a very peaceful evening, and the end of a hard day.

Thursday proved to be my favourite day as we had a strong paddle to the next campsite but I felt like that time just flew by in a second and we were already there. After lunch I had to conquer a fear. Heights. We had to go on a hike up a gorge to find a rock slide and a swimming pool. I knew that if I had done this two years ago then I would have asked Mr Perry if I could stay at the campsite because it would have been too terrified to even try it, but on this camp, I was going to try anything and nothing was going to stop me! With the help of Blake, Connor, Caylis and Arty giving me a hand up at certain points, I got to the top. It may not have seemed like much to the Year 10s but to me, it was a mountain and a fear, and I'm very proud of myself for getting there. The rockslide and view made it worth it! Fabian and I cooked a good dinner, which filled the tanks for the next day. Sadly Thursday was Jason's (a volunteer) birthday and he was in the other group so I didn't get to see him but I raised my bowl of pasta to his 19th!

Now, Friday. This was a great day even with the wind making the kayaks hard to control at times. Each day in the group everyone had certain jobs (e.g. leaders, toilet, kitchen, etc.). On this day, Hugo, Fabian and I were on ‘morale’. The morale had been high in this week because of the energy that was bouncing off everyone in this group. In previous days everyone had been singing the Australian National Anthem to keep everyone going. On this day, I was called. They wanted the British Anthem to be sung. Now, if you haven't heard this 'beautiful' song before, consider yourself lucky. I love my country and where I'm from; however, it has to be said, our Anthem is awful, but this didn't stop me from singing it as loud as I could. You've probably never heard a drowning seal before, but if by chance you have, that's what I sounded like. It still worked though, morale was at an all-time high after I made a fool of myself. I got to talk more to some people like Yianni, Lilly, Stella and Connor, we all got on really well. A great day, but night was yet to come and that was a different story – I got out of my kayak to find myself in agony. I took my wet shoes off and my toes had suffered some nasty friction burns, where the skin was missing on some parts. So walking was off the cards for this night. I have to give a special mention to Arty, he saw me in pain and he gave me one of the cool rocks he had found and told me 'I was always welcome down under'. That meant a lot. Thanks mate.

I woke up early on Saturday in a weird mood, we were about two hours away from arriving at the boat ramp. I was proud of myself and everyone else for doing so well and nearly being finished but I also wished I could have stayed longer. We went on our windy way back to the start, with a few rudder issues and a second stop at rock jump, and we returned safe and sound. My feet were still very sore, but that didn't stop me smiling from ear to ear during the last few strokes into shore.

Getting back to the resort, seeing Jason and Jette (more gap volunteers) and hearing that their time away was fantastic too. We then had a BBQ, talked, and then slept until early Sunday morning when we boarded the bus back.

I just want to say thank you to Kormilda College for letting me go on this camp, and thank you to every member of my group for making me feel so welcome. You will all go on to do great things, I'm sure. To conclude this story, I will say that this was the best week of my life. I learnt so much and did more than I could have dreamt. ‘Til next time Argyle, I'll be back.

 

Kormilda College is an Anglican and Uniting Church College.
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