It’s a gruelling 65km trail. With the heat of the central Australian desert, the steep red slopes of the West MacDonnell Ranges and the rugged landscapes of the Red Centre, it’s challenging for even the most capable trekker.
But the Larapinta trail is also renowned for its incredible beauty and strong connection to indigenous culture, making every exhausting step well worth it. And three Singleton sisters are soon to discover just how valuable the experience can be.
Annie, Lucy and Sophie Nichols are set to conquer the trail as a part of the University of Newcastle (UON) initiative to support young indigenous students.
Along with 27 other trekkers, the trio will hike the Larapinta trail from August 15 to 19 in an attempt to raise more than $100,000 for equity and social justice for Indigenous Australians.
“In my first year of study at the University of Newcastle I was awarded two scholarships – the Godfrey Tanner Scholarship and The Shaping Futures Scholarship,” the eldest of the three, Annie said.
“Without these scholarships, university would not have been possible without enormous financial strain.
“I will be forever grateful for the financial support that transformed my university studies. I want to see others have this same opportunity, especially those whom are disadvantaged and those who want to improve the quality of life of others.”
Currently, indigenous Australians have a significantly shorter life expectancy, are around five times more likely to die from diabetes and alcohol-related illnesses, and are severely under-represented in Australian universities. Working as a qualified physiotherapist in Walgett, Annie understands the difficulties of living in an area with limited access to services and believes raising funds for university scholarships can help to bridge the gap.
“It’s a tough gig living in parts of Australia that don’t have access to the same standard of health care, education or career opportunities compared to those living in metropolitan areas,” she said.
“The funds raised through this challenge will support those entering into study at university, future indigenous leaders undertaking research and community health research projects.
“As a health professional I want to close the gap in health care and lower the rates of chronic disease, substance misuse and obesity amongst indigenous communities. I believe funding to support current and future indigenous health research projects is of utmost importance.”
With just over three weeks until the challenge commences, the three sisters have raised close to $4000 and are hoping to reach their personal target of $10,000.
“Overall, I hope we can reach the total fundraising goal of $100,000,” Annie said.
“Personally, I’m hoping to conquer the physical challenge of walking 65km, learn more about the indigenous culture – be able to connect with their culture, and be inspired by the beautiful scenery of the Australian Outback.
“Oh and survive five days without arguing with the twins.”
To find out more about Annie, Lucy and Sophie’s adventure or to donate to their cause, visit https://larapintatrail.everydayhero.com/au/annie-sophie-lucy-nichols.