Team Tintern complete the 60km Coastrek Walk for the Fred Hollows Foundation

29th May 2017

On Friday, 26 May, Team Tintern successfully completed the 60km Coastrek walk for the Fred Hollows Foundation in 14 hours. As team captain, I am so proud of our achievement. We had a wonderful, exhilarating day and were encouraged every step of the way by so many emails, texts and messages of well wishes from the school community.

Our day began with the alarm sounding at 4.45AM. Our excitement levels of the night before continued through breakfast and our short trip to Cape Schanck. We arrived at 5.30AM to be met by the videographer, photographer and Marketing Manager for Coastrek. We were fortunate to be the chosen team for documenting the experience and began the morning with an interview and photo shoot.

We were in the 6.00AM start along with nearly 30 other teams. 85 teams in total undertook the 60km walk and some 350 teams participated in the 30 km walk which departed from Koonya back beach.

It was still dark when we headed east along the narrow coastal track towards Bushrangers bay and sunrise. All we could see was a dancing line of lights from the head torches of walkers in front of us. Progress was somewhat slow to start with but it was not long before the line thinned out and we could walk at our own pace. The first stop was Fingal picnic ground (10km mark). Coastrek had organised 2 ‘Kiss’ stops –  checkpoints for food, water and encouragement. Fingal was the first ‘Kiss’ stop and bells were rung as each team arrived. From Fingal we headed to Gunnamatta surf beach. The tide was half way in and it was not easy walking in the soft, heavy sand. Glorious views, limpid blue skies and crystal clear water, however, helped take our mind off our exertions! We reached the first of 3 ‘Luv’ stops at St Andrews beach (20km mark) around 10.00AM. These stops were points where we had to cross a computerised checkpoint which kept track of all the walkers. They also provided physios, podiatrists and camelback refuelling stations. This was the first time we met up with our support person extraordinaire – Mrs Jan Wagner – who pulled out the folding chairs, table, freshly brewed coffee, biscuits and hot soup. Perhaps we lingered a little too long at this stop…

Onwards to Koonya and the 30km mark. This section was quite slow as we were back on the sand for several kilometres. We arrived at Koonya ‘Luv’ stop around 1.40PM and there was a real party atmosphere in swing. Maureen took advantage of the free podiatry services and had a blister attended to whilst the rest of us enjoyed the fruit, snacks and coffee machine on offer. We were now behind our schedule and lunch in Sorrento was not looking good if we wanted to finish the walk before midnight. A quick phone call to Jan and we were set to meet her at Portsea with take away sandwiches.

The route from Koonya back beach took us along the coast to Sorrento back beach, up to Coppins lookout and back around to the main street of Sorrento. From there we walked down to the ferry, up the hill to the Sorrento park and along Pt Nepean Road until we could duck back onto the walking path along the edge of the cliff top properties. The glorious sunny weather continued all day and we were treated to the peninsula at its finest. Our last beach walk was along Shelley beach and at the end of this we cut back on to Pt Nepean Rd to Portsea village where we took the road to Portsea back beach. The final ‘luv’ stop was at the 43.5km mark and this time it was me benefiting from the podiatrists as they helped pack an annoying blister.

We enjoyed a lovely sunset at Portsea back beach and said our final farewell to Jan at London Bridge. Darkness fell and we walked the last 10kms in the dark. I personally found the 50-55km section across from London bridge to the tip of Pt Nepean the most difficult. We did not really come into contact with any other groups and felt we were on our own in the wilderness. Approaching Pt Nepean we could hear the roar of the surf and see the lights of other walkers in the distance as they snaked their way back to the finish line at the Quarantine station. A final quick ‘Kiss’ stop at Pt Nepean and we were on the home stretch.

We were met at the finish line by Gabi Hollows and the management team of Coastrek. It was a wonderful moment to finish a magnificent day. Gabi presented us each with medals and a an autobiography of Fred Hollows. She was there to greet all walkers but took time to speak with Team Tintern in particular. We were also treated to free massages, champagne and nibbles. We gave our last interview and we look forward very much to seeing the final video in a couple of weeks.

The Coastrek journey has been an amazing experience for us all. We thoroughly enjoyed our training walks, getting to know each other better and the camaraderie on the day. We were thrilled and humbled by the support of both the students and staff of Tintern and felt privileged to be part of such a wonderful event that raises so much money and awareness for such an important cause. Our team has raised nearly $3,500 through fundraising at school and we are so proud of this amount given the number of other fundraising projects that the school has undertaken at the same time. Melbourne Coastrek is hoping to raise $1.5 million at the close of fundraising this coming Sunday and it is great to know that we have contributed to this total.

Donations close Sunday 4 June. Donate to Team Tintern via this link.

Thank you to everyone who supported us.

by Anne Bortolussi, Secondary Music Teacher & Co-ordinator Duke of Edinburgh Awards Program