Jenolan river hike summary – By Connor Kennedy

Over the Christmas Holidays of 2018, three adventurous St Dominic’s College students went on a journey that has changed their perspective on the nature of challenges and overcoming the ‘mountainous’ task at hand. These three boys, accompanied by others of their age and supervised by three excited adults, started their journey amongst the tourists of the Jenolan Caves. This would be the last time they would be seeing other people besides the group for four days.

This was to be a six day hike through the Kanangra-Boyd National Park, going from Jenolan Caves to Katoomba. It was clear from the start that this would be a challenge; the group decided that they would not follow the traditional Six Foot Track back, instead opting to go for something a little more… interesting. The route they followed took them along the Jenolan river, a winding route filled with rocks, water, and snakes, closely hugged by the mountains surrounding the river. The group was at times forced to swim fully clothed with bags on their backs to continue onwards. After three and a half days of rock-hopping and wading, they finally reached a more solid track. But this is where a new challenge began: the uphill section of the hike. Over the next two and a half days, they would begin an 800m ascent back out of the valley to civilisation.

Even after such hardships, all three boys are searching for more challenging hikes, with the oldest, currently in Year 12, looking to run an eight day hike from Katoomba to Mittagong.

It goes to shows that even under the pressures of the HSC and the school curriculum, our students can find the time to push themselves out of their comfort zones, to enjoy the thrill of a challenge and form close bonds with people like themselves.

From his dad and Venturer Scout Leader:

You can see from the below photos from the recent 60km hike performed by Venturer Scouts. The students from St Dominic’s who attended were Connor Kennedy, Finn Kennedy and Kai Hansen. As you can see from the photos the hike group went down the Jenolan River gorge from the Jenolan caves house and came out in the middle of the Megalong Valley. Eventually they made their way back up the arduous climb to Katoomba. 

Some of the hike they spent swimming in cold water with their packs floating in front and other parts they strained against the load as they ascended hills in hot summer weather. 

What is most surprising about this is that Connor Kennedy, who led most of the hike, was also on the safety radio and navigation devices plotting the route, as well as the hike second in charge. He enjoyed this responsibility and the exertion of the trip very much.  This is the same kid who, at the age of 14, wouldn’t even consider this sort of physical hardship.

But when you think of it, it’s not actually so surprising. Connor has taken all the steps to develop to a point where he can achieve this sort of endeavour. He worked through his fears by “having a go” and taking the opportunity to be exposed to the things that eventually started to make an impact. I don’t think that he realises that whether it was performing with the school ensemble or taking an abseiling course or travelling to NZ to climb a volcano; it was allowing him to slowly grow and become a confident young man. 

Recently he was voted by Greater Western Sydney Regional peers to be the Scout Venturer responsible for his region as their Youth Leader which is another great achievement.

Connor is well on his way to be the first St Dominic’s boy to be awarded the Queens Scout Award in a long time. Below is the World Scout criteria on the Queen Scout:

Queen’s Scout Award

To achieve this prestigious award a Venturer Scout must be able to set a goal; plan progress towards that goal; organise their self and others; and maintain the determination to overcome difficulties and complete the task.

They must also have achieved the Venturing Skills Award and complete the requirements in four award areas:

  • Outdoor Activities – demonstrates that the Venturer Scout is challenged in initiative, expeditions an outdoor adventures.
  • Community Involvement – activities centred on citizenship, community service and caring for the environment.
  • Leadership Development – involvement in Unit management and leadership courses and studying different vocations.
  • Personal Growth – self development through expressions, ideals, mental pursuits and personal lifestyle.

Each year only a few Venturer Scouts achieve this prestigious award, which is presented by the Governor and Chief Scout of New South Wales, as a representative of the Queen, at Government House.