Media release - Former Aussie peacekeeper puts heart into epic Timor trek
17 November 2016
A former Australian peacekeeper is returning to Timor-Leste (East Timor) to lead an epic north-south trek, which will include a summit attempt on Mt Ramelau, Timor-Leste’s highest peak, historic sites and village homestays.
The 13-day event, which will be supported by local guides, is the first commercial coast-to-coast trek for the fledgling nation, one hour’s flying time from Darwin.
Trekkers will camp and homestay in villages along the picturesque and often mountainous 110 km route. As well as an attempt on the 2986 metre Mt Ramelau, the expedition will take in historic sites including remote natural hot springs and the Portuguese-era fort and township of Balibo, where five Australian media workers lost their lives in 1975.
Trek organiser and leader Mick Stuth, now a civilian paramedic and operations director of EarthTrails Expeditions, which trains remote medics, said the Timor trek grew from his experiences as a peacekeeper, and his commitment to help support one of the poorest nations in Asia.
“In 2003 I served in Timor-Leste in a civil-military liaison role for the Australian Defence Force. It was truly eye-opening, to see what the people have endured in years of civil strife and occupation,” Mick said.
“As an Australian and a medic I also had to fathom that our ‘next door neighbours’, who are only one hour’s flying time from mainland Australia, live with such extreme poverty and poor health.
“This trek is my way to make a difference, and to give other Australians the chance to also help out our neighbours.”
Mick said he chose East Timor Hearts Fund – an Australian charity that provides life-saving heart surgery in Australia for young Timorese and supports research and preventative health initiatives – based on his experiences in Timor-Leste.
“I saw first-hand how rheumatic fever, the cause of many of the heart problems experienced by East Timor Hearts Fund’s young patients, works its way through communities,” he said.
“It causes crippling heart failure in young people, leaving them breathless, lethargic and unable to go to school or enjoy sport or playing with friends.
“To see children gasping for air, lying helpless and unable to do what other children do at that age, is heart-breaking and if there is treatment and prevention available, why wouldn’t we support it?”
As well as the social benefit, Mick said the trip, next July-August, would be an incredible adventure, in an “unspoilt wonderland, rich in vibrant cultures and jaw-dropping landscapes” that had very few tourists.
Mick urged Australians with a sense of adventure and a social conscience to get behind the trek. With only 15 places available, people need to act quickly. Special early-bird prices also apply before 25 November.
To register or to find out more, visit earthtrails.com.au/expeditions/east-timor/
East Timor Hearts Fund is Australia’s only medical aid charity dedicated to providing life-saving heart surgery in Australia for young people from Timor-Leste (East Timor). These patients often need relatively simple procedures to correct conditions that are the legacy of childhood rheumatic fever, a disease largely eradicated in the west. They cannot be treated in Timor-Leste due to a lack of specialist medical facilities.
Earth Trails Expeditions is a socially and environmentally conscious adventure travel company that supports the Wild Medic Project, a volunteer-based organisation providing health training and support for remote communities in locations including Nepal.
Date: Saturday 22 July – Thursday 3 August, 2017
Cost: $3,450 AUD – (special earlybird price until 25 November)
Early bird price until 25 November (refer to the website to learn about inclusions/exclusions)