We were thrilled to hear that Emu Trekkers, one of our most generous fundraising partners, has recently won Gold for the Best Adventure Tour Operator in the NSW Tourism Awards.
The brainchild of Tristan Harley and his wife Rutty, Emu Trekkers is a hiking tour operator with two big differences — all hikes are led entirely by volunteers, and all proceeds from fees charged are donated towards charitable purposes. Its setting up was inspired by the Quetzal Trekkers in Nicaragua and Guatemala, a not-for-profit organisation which raises money to build schools for local kids.
‘We started out quite small,’ Tristan explains, ‘with just one walk a week in the Blue Mountains and a couple of volunteers. And from the very beginning we wanted to encourage a love of being in the outdoors at the same time as helping to improve the health, welfare and education of kids who experience disadvantage.’
Since 2017, the venture has grown considerably. Over 50 trained volunteers are now involved, and there are four hikes each week around Sydney and the Blue Mountains National Parks. In the past two years, more than 1500 people from over 35 countries have been introduced to hiking in the Australian bush.
‘Collectively, they have hiked over 15,000 kilometres.’
Last year, Tristan and his volunteers ran 141 tours and raised $60,000 — $45,000 of which they donated to our Foundation.
‘ILF was the first organisation we partnered with,’ says Tristan. ‘From the very start we liked that, as a registered charity, it was very transparent, and that it was clearly making a real difference to the lives of Indigenous children.’
For Tristan, raising awareness of Indigenous literacy and language has been as important as any fundraising the Emu Trekkers do.
‘The leaders on each of our walks talk about ILF and the work it does. We’re able to give travellers, as well as locals, a unique perspective of Australia, an entry point to understanding. And while we have a primarily charitable purpose, we still want to provide the best hiking experience possible.’
ILF is very proud of — and grateful for — our partnership with Emu Trekkers, Australia’s first 100% not-for-profit tour operator, and pioneers in an eco-friendly tourism activity which aims to have positive social and environmental impacts.
Congratulations to the founders of Emu Trekkers on their award, and to all of their wonderful, dedicated volunteer guides. And huge thanks for their amazing ongoing support.
You can read more about Emu Trekkers on their website www.emutrekkers.org.