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Contributed by: Krithika Kumar

Sulking at home with nothing to do, a long-lost friend of mine hit me up and informed me about the existence of Beyond Melbourne Ambassadors Project (BMAP) and that’s when I knew it’s going to be a great start to the semester. Being an adventure lover, I immediately signed up for the Phillip Island cultural exploration and found myself with 20 other people on Friday, March 13 in the early morning. We met Mal, our trip facilitator who conveyed to us the significance and magnificence of Phillip Island and thereafter we hit the road to have a 3-hour drive. An uncalled rain put off our hiking tour and believe me, that’s not the start we were looking forward to. Nevertheless, an hour later we found ourselves on the beach after lunch, playing games and having an entertaining ice-breaking session. Later that day, we were also given different roles such as chefs, timekeeper, content manager, safety officer to practice communication, exercise team building and build confidence.

The native dwellers

Our first activity for the trip was an Aboriginal workshop led by Steve Parker at the Forrest caves. Steve performed a sacred cleansing ritual with plants and herbs which signified members of the family. He also handed out to us a leaf which is said to protect us and considered as a passport in order to walk through the land of the indigenous. We heard him playing an instrument which was only allowed to be played by men during ceremonies. Moreover, we observed and played with different types of boomerangs which the tribes used for hunting.

The most exciting part was when he let a couple of us try it by ourselves! We also created a paste out of rocks which serve the purpose of a moisturizer to be applied by women during rituals. I consider us a lucky group to have witnessed some meaningful practices that the indigenous community are striving to keep alive and it was an eye-opening experience for us to embrace our roots.

This was followed by a wholesome dinner and ample rest to gear up for the next day.

The most awaited - Surfing

It was a teeth-chattering kind of Saturday, but I could see that all of us were pumped up for surfing. Drumroll for our instructors - Archie, Charlie and Joe who educated us on how surfing works along with getting us warmed up. It took us a four-step routine to stand up on the board and gloat about knowing how to surf hahaha! We practiced our moves first on the sand before entering the waters. The joy I saw on my fellow ambassadors' faces when they could stand on the board for even 3 seconds was so precious. It was hands down one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. None of us wanted to leave but we eventually had to when hunger took over our excitement.

After gobbling up the rolls we had made we headed out for the next activity of Day 2.

Conservation activity at The Wild farm

Jude and Sam introduced us to their beautiful and vast 10-acre farm which has the most exotic trees, plants and shrubs. We strolled around the entire farm learning about the different species of plants and smelling each aromatic leaf which will be soon processed into tea and coffee. Each one of us was awestruck by the beautiful man-made rain-forest which also had a water body at the center. We then divided into the conversation activity to pull out the weeds in the farm. Our faces gleamed with pride after the process and the entire place looked so much greener. We were rewarded with some aromatic tea and coffee in the farm's aesthetic café.

We then reached our camping sites, pitched tents and did a small reflection activity for the day. The day ended with a session of stargazing around our tents.

Mountain biking

All of us were up and about for the last activity of our exploration *sad sighs*

We reached the Oswin Roberts Reserve, geared up with helmets, and cycled to hit the rocky road. We did a trial run to see if everyone was confident enough to do the 5km Oswin Robert circuit and Chetty gave us the rundown on how to mount, brake and change gears of a bicycle. The next 30- 40 minutes was super intense and thrilling with Chetty screaming “Thumb-it to the Summit. By the end of the trail, all of us were sweaty and panting but the experience was so worth it!

Post presentation pitch

The post-presentation pitch was rather too emotional (personally) as it marked the end of a beautiful three-day trip. We all shared how this exploration had changed us as a person and at a community level. We were connected to nature like never before and found multicultural friends who became a close-knit family. We were astonished to see how most of us came out of our comfort zones and let go of our inhibitions to try new things. The different roles assigned to us brought us together as a team, because irrespective of the role we had, we helped out the others.

We want to extend our heartfelt gratitude to OutBeyond and Beyond Melbourne Ambassadors Project for giving us this unforgettable memory. We also thank Phillip Island Regional Tourism Board, Study Melbourne and the Victorian Government for their supports. A special shout out to our project manager Dana and our lead student ambassadors.

Until next time! <3


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