The Simpson Desert Challenge - A Reflection

For nine days 14 brave trekkers took on the Simpson Desert; walking 250km from Poeppel’s Corner to Birdsville. It was a challenge of a lifetime – isolated, rough underfoot, all of life’s simple luxuries taken away from our desert warriors. It was a harrowing journey, but it paled in comparison to the lack of choice and loneliness young people living in aged care face every day.

One of our desert walkers reflects on her adventure below…

“I’m sitting in my bed after a nice sleep-in; I am warm and comfortable and it’s sunny outside. I’m grateful for all of life’s simple pleasures, but I am surprised to say that I am missing the beauty and relentlessness of the desert.

Waking up to a whip cracking, the crackling of the fire outside of my tent, our trek leader bellows out his “commmonnn, git up!” I feel the anticipation of what the day will bring, knowing it will be painful but wanting to do it anyway. My legs and feet are sore from the day before but I force them out of my sleeping bag to do it all over again. I squeeze my swollen feet into my hiking boots day after day for nine days.

I so badly don’t want to be in the blistering cold outside of my tent, but even more-so I don’t want to wish this experience away, so I head out into the darkness. I’m stumbling with the pain in my feet and the shock of the cold, but I have a job to do and I will be by the fire soon enough.

There are pleasant ‘good mornings’ and conversations about the night’s sleep. Not one word of the pain. These warriors are the epitome of positivity and strength and I’m inspired to be that for them too.

We quickly eat our ration pack breakfast – instant coffee, oats and two fruits – around the fire and it’s quiet but not uncomfortable. We are united in a common goal and we are all deep in thought about how we will get through the day. Time moves fast and we hear “five minutes!” There’s a scramble to wash our bowls and get our packs ready and before we know it there’s another announcement “packs on!”

I know today is going to be a big one but I know that whatever I feel is temporary, the challenge is life-long for my friends with high care needs.

I feel privileged to have the Youngcare flag tied to my backpack today as we set off into the windy, unbearable cold. We are in the centre of the desert, surrounded by sand but I’ve never been so cold in my life. I can’t feel my fingers, my toes are working but they aren’t present. We trek through this for a couple of hours until the sun starts to come up.

Orange, pink, blue, white. A vast horizon of colours that don’t even exist in my imagination. There is nothing, but that is everything we need. Not a building. Not a plane. Not a cloud. Just sand and sky. And it is magical.

The sun pops its head over the horizon and the pain in my legs disappears for that moment. I know the others are embracing this like I am because we were told time and time again; don’t wish it away. And so we keep going.

Hours and kilometres pass. Countless sand dunes are climbed and sharp burrs stick into our pants and socks.

In moments of weakness I think about why I am there and each step is taken for those who can’t. I remember the resilience and strength of the people Youngcare helps and I draw on their determination to finish what I started.

After nine days my adventure has come to an end. But the harsh reality continues for our young Australians with high care needs living in aged care. Over the coming days my life will be back to normal, my legs will gain strength again and the colour in my toes will come back. But unless we fight for change, our friends living with disability will always feel pain and isolation.

I know this problem can be solved, and it is up to every single one of us to make sure that happens.”

Congratulations to all of our courageous trekkers who raised over $600,000 for young people with high care needs! The toughest day saw them walking 42km and 60,000 steps in sub zero temperatures for part of the hike. We commend you, thank you for your commitment to Youngcare.

News you might like:
2 August 2017 Youngcare explores options as NSW project ends Youngcare’s partnership with St. Vincent’s Australia to deliver high care housing ...
30 August 2016 National not-for-profit organisation Youngcare today announced the appointment of new Chief Executive Officer Anthony Ryan. Mr ...
8 March 2017 Sylvia Jeffreys joins the Youngcare crusade January not only marked the start to an exciting new year, but the announcement of ...
24 July 2017 A message from our partners at Vincents At VINCENTS one of our core values is to actively build a company environment that contributes ...
8 March 2017 Albany Creek update We are thrilled to announce that the Youngcare and MS Queensland Apartments at Albany Creek are on track to be a ...
1 February 2017 Familiar face adds voice to national issue This week, 700,000 young people with high care needs across the country have been given a ...
8 March 2017 CEO message Two months into my new role at Youngcare, it’s fantastic to be writing for my first Y News! There are exciting times ...
24 July 2017 Out and about International Women’s Day was a great success celebrating women and raising funds for Youngcare. Hosted by the ...
18 July 2017 The Today Show aired Todd and Kat's story 'I never thought I’d find somebody like her': How gaining independence led a young man ...
The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has changed the disability sector forever. For the first time in Australian history, young people with ...

Are you a young person seeking help?

What we do


Get Help


Contact Us


A huge thanks to our supporters 

Vertica Capital
Collins Food
Spot Productions
Birdsville Roadhouse
Brisbane Airport
Just Cause Bunch
ALS Global
One Harvest - love beats
Hand Heart Pocket
Aurora Adventures
Network First
Birdsville Hotel
National Storage
Tattersalls Club
McCabe Curwood
Motorola Solutions
Channel Nine
Forte Catering
Taylor Byrne
Birdsville Social Club
Brighton Homes
Flight Centre Foundation
Queensland Rail
MS Queensland
The Co Group
Just Photography
Care Tech
Braggs Signs
Story Bride Hotel
Vantage Performance
Queensland Government
De Luca Corp
Media Merchants
Betta Home Living
MMO Interiors
Rivergum Homes
Eureka Landscaping
J W Bell & Associates
Cakes & Sh!t
AWIC - Awesome Women In Construction
Women's Weekly
Select AV
LAS logo
Knight Frank
IOR Petroleum
Une Parkinson Foundation
Clark Real Estate
Canvas Art Factory
Audio Visual Elements
Shine Lawyers
MGD Private
Broncos Charity Fund
CV Services
Tatts Group
Bruce Lynton
Doug Hall Foundation
Cutting Edge
Hopgood Ganim
Wolff Group
Skip to content