Meet the Team – Hilary

Hi there! Welcome to For Wild Places; a movement in motion.  Over the next coming weeks, we are going to introduce you to our small but mighty team.

Being the first to take the reins is a bit daunting, but if starting a non-for-profit organisation has taught me anything, it’s the importance of stepping out of your comfort zone and just getting it done.  Which also explains how I got here in the first place…

In March last year I found myself on a muddy 4WD track, in the pre-dawn darkness, toeing the start line of the takayna Ultra.  Looking around I wondered where the rest of the field of 150 runners were, only to realise that there were only 30 of us wild enough to tackle the wild terrain of takayna.  From negotiating ankle-twisting heathlands, to exposed beach sections with the Roaring 40’s pushing my frozen body forward, my first 65km event will be one of the more memorable trail events of my life.  But it was so much more than a race; it was the purpose of being there that made the experience so memorable and unique.  From fundraising, to training, qualifying and finally travelling to Tasmania, finally meeting the other runners, volunteers, forest defenders and event organisers, made me realise how much more enjoyable events are when they have purpose and impact. 

We departed Tasmania just as whispers of interstate border closures were rippling across the media outlets, and the long-term impacts of coronavirus seemed unavoidable.  Working in events, my work disappeared overnight, and I found myself back at my parent’s farm in North-Western Victoria, determined to use this forced hiatus for good.  Queue Simon Harris – the co-founder of takayna Ultra popping up in my emails, suggesting that a group of Ultra participants should join forces to continue to protect wild places.  Like every good crime-fighting posse, we came from near and far, with a range of experiences and skills, but most importantly, united by a desire to do more to protect the wild places we love to explore.

Here the work begun; dreaming of what For Wild Places could become, what changes we wanted to see in the industry, places we loved, organisations and movements we admired.  We discussed what we could become. questioned our privilege, asked difficult questions, listened respectfully to one another and made plans for the future.

We created this short video for the Wild Idea Incubator Program, which led to me writing the following passage.  I feel this insight into our FWP discussions will give you insight into why I am involved in For Wild Places, and an example of what impact I this organisation will have on the industry.

‘Watching the For Wild Places video yesterday made me realise the importance of individuality and imperfection when addressing the world.  I laughed as Freddie was walloped in the face and found myself fist pumping in solidarity with Simon. I’ve only known most of you for a couple of weeks, with the only insight into your lives being a Zoom background.  Despite these limited interactions, everyone already feels familiar.  The small insights garnered from the backyards and local trails helped peel away the veil of assumption around who we expect one other to be.

Reflecting on this made me realise how much of our identity we lose when we step out in support of wild places.  I said in my FWP statement that I think the biggest battle we fight is against ourselves.  The labels we put on people and the expectations that go with them are detrimental to our fight against mitigating the effects of climate change.  Yes, I try to be plant based, bank with an ethical bank, live plastic free and consume less.  My constant desire to live more thoughtfully is seen as exhausting by others and I don’t blame them.  I find trying to purchase, eat and live ethically hard work.  But I choose to do it, just as I choose to break these self-imposed rules sometimes.  

We all have our battles, our passions and our indulgences.  Pretending to be the perfect environmentalist doesn’t serve anyone; it makes the title more unattractive and unattainable.  FWP is a group of individuals from a range of backgrounds, places and passions.  I want to see this reflected in the things that we do and how we say it.   As Kevin Kelly once said, ‘Don’t be the best.  Be the only’.  I am excited for us all to embrace our individual personalities and quirks so we can combine our superpowers to form a movement powered by acceptance, positivity and originality.’

Whilst working away on FWP provided a welcome distraction from the chaos 2020 threw my life into, it didn’t stop me from getting outdoors as much as restrictions would allow.  I spent the year visiting all 45 Victorian National Parks, exploring trails for Capra, and running my first 100k trail event. I now find myself rather hooked on the nomad lifestyle and am about to embark on a two-month trip to Tasmania, to explore the many incredible wild places it has to offer.  You can follow my adventures on Instagram, Strava and on my website.

Thank you for being part of For Wild Places and I hope to meet you out on the trails soon,

Hilary

Here are some photos from my Victorian National Park adventures –

Errinundra National Park, Bidawal and Nindi-Ngudjam Ngarigu Monero Country. Photo: Majell Backhausen
Croajingolong National Park, Bidawal and Nindi-Ngudjam Ngarigu Monero Country.
Burrowa-Pine National Park. The Traditional Owners are yet to be formally recognised. Photo: Majell Backhausen

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