Community Champion – Michael Pugh
Michael Pugh is a passionate hiker and explorer who has spent much of his life exploring the great outdoors in remote and beautiful places and inspiring others to do the same.
Michael’s interest in the bush started in his childhood when he went hiking with his family in the Douglas Hills in Townsville. He recounts that, “hiking up that hill was a monstrous achievement, a giant summit, an adventure to rival the best. This is where it all began.”
As an adult, Michael is involved with the Hike and Explore networks across Far North QLD, North QLD, and Central QLD, where he shares his passion for hiking and exploring with others.
He believes that outdoor activities are great for physical and mental health and that anyone can take part, regardless of age, fitness level, or ability.
The Hike and Explore networks offer a range of inclusive events, including accessible walks for people with disabilities, toddler and child-friendly walks, Heart Foundation walks, half-day and full-day hikes, and multi-day hikes.
When asked about his favourite hiking and exploration destinations in Central Queensland, Michael replied, “I’ve hiked and explored much of Qld and different parts of Australia and can honestly say that the volcanic plugs and formations of the Peak Range, outside of Clermont in Central Queensland are home to some of the best hiking experiences you’ll find anywhere in the country.”
He finds that following in Ludwig Leichhardt’s footsteps as the group hikes and explores the range is something special. Michael encourages everyone to read Ludwig Leichhardt’s “Journal of an Overland Expedition in Australia,” which covers his exploration of the Peak Range.
Safety is a top priority across the networks when it comes to outdoor adventures. He advises planning and preparation, researching the route and destination thoroughly, and telling someone where you’re going and when your due back.
It’s essential to prepare for what to do if you or someone else is injured, the weather changes, or your trip takes longer than expected. Pugh recommends hiking in a group, carrying appropriate safety, emergency and communication gear, and always carrying a personal locator beacon (PLB). He stresses the importance of carrying a first aid kit and a snakebite bandage, knowing how to use everything in the kit, and being aware of the weather, particularly the heat and humidity of NQ and CQ.
In May last year, Michael undertook a particularly challenging hike with fellow hiker Wes Graffin. They hiked 102 kilometres, traversing the Peak Range in Central Queensland from North to South to raise money for Cancer Council Queensland. Pugh and Graffin accomplished their goal in around 30 hours, raising a considerable amount of money for a good cause.
Michael encourages others to get involved in outdoor activities by visiting the Central Qld, Townsville, or Cairns Hike and Explore Facebook and Instagram pages or the website, www.townsvillehikeandexplore.com.
“You can also use these channels to contact fellow group members and leaders, ask questions and build confidence prior to attending your first event. Join us on a trail soon, you won’t be disappointed. Our groups have taken out over 6000 members on free, fun, supportive and inclusive outdoor experiences over the past few years,” said Michael.
“Sharing my love of the outdoors, nature, conservation and the infinite beauty and splendour our region has to offer makes it all worth it for me.
“Over 2000 volunteer hours were put into our Townsville Group alone last year and personally, I continue to enjoy every aspect of challenging myself and others when venturing out to some of the most remote, unique and beautiful locations across our state.
“It’s quite humbling when I read messages and emails from members about how much they have enjoyed our events, and in a few cases have mentioned the group and the experiences have literally changed their lives for the better.”
The hike and explore network groups have all been nominated for a number of awards over the past few years, including two Environmental Sustainability awards which they are very proud of.
“We make a conscious effort to protect and preserve the areas that we hike and explore in. We organise beach clean-up events and informative events with local and regional conservation-based organisations including Reef Clean, Landcare, NQ Dry Tropics, Invasive Species Council and Wildlife Surrounds.”
Michael is passionate about the areas that he works and lives and believes that there are massive opportunities, particularly around the Peak Range to offer a range of outdoor experiences that will appeal to the tourism sector, and this will in turn increase visitation and investment in our rural and regional communities which is desperately needed.
“The Peak Range is one of Queensland, and Australia’s best kept secrets. The more people I take hiking and adventuring across the range, the more opportunity I can see for the future.”
Michael Pugh is a true Community Champion, inspiring and leading others to get outdoors, explore, and enjoy the infinite beauty and splendour of our region while promoting physical and mental health, conservation, and community engagement.
|Ready to pull on your hiking boots and join Michael? Head to www.townsvillehikeandexplore.com.|