Mitchell Drover has set himself a monumental task and is walking 1000 kilometres from Melbourne to Newcastle in just 29 days, with hopes to raise funds and awareness for conservation and sustainability.
Starting on June 3, the 24-year-old will leave for his journey, which will raise money for environmental organisations the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) and Take 3 for the Sea.
“I’m doing the walk completely unassisted,” Mitch said.
“It’s just me, my backpack, and the open road.”
Hailing from Port Macquarie on the Mid-North Coast, Mitch was motivated to complete the mammoth task to fulfil an inherent sense of social responsibility.
“I’m filled with so much remorse and frustration at what is happening to people worldwide who are suffering at the hands of climate change,” Mitch said.
“My goal is to help educate people on living a more sustainable lifestyle and bring everyone together so we can make a greater change and enjoy this place for years to come.”
Along the way, Mitch will be visiting rural towns to witness the impacts of natural disasters.
Among them is Howlong on the Murray River, impacted by flooding, and Katoomba in the Blue Mountains, which has experienced landslip events caused by extreme weather conditions.
He said while the fundraising component of his trek had not begun, his current focus was on promoting his Instagram and embarking on a strict training regime.
“For my main portion of training, I’ve been progressively doing pack walks along the Fernleigh Track … it’s the perfect route to clock up the kilometres and maintain a consistent pace,” he said.
“To further condition for the daily walking, I’m doing some training on the Great North Walk (GNW) at the end of the week.”
While Mitch had planned on undertaking the entire Great North Walk (GNW) track from Sydney to Newcastle this week, nature had other plans.
“I was supposed to be leaving tomorrow for the GNW, but ironically, we’re forecasted for potential flash flooding … my sister made a joke that the changing climate I’m trying to raise awareness about is actually stopping me from training.”
Instead, Mitch will undertake a portion of the walk on April 8 from Woy Woy to Newcastle, which he expects will take four days.
Growing up in Port Macquarie had a huge influence on Mitch’s appreciation for the planet, embodied by his chosen charities ACF and Take 3 for the Sea.
“Growing up in a small coastal town, it was always so important to keep our beaches and oceans clean because we used them every day,” he said.
“As plastic pollution is killing wildlife, devastating oceans, and threatening the health of the planet, I wanted to support Take 3’s goal to close the gap through education that inspires participation.
“Additionally, ACF is taking on pollution, climate damage and habitat destruction by challenging the big polluters, the rigged rules and the politicians who forget they represent the people.”
While Mitch said environmental awareness was increasing, further education and action often fell behind.
“The issues of conservation and climate change have been neglected by news outlets because of the pandemic, so I’m trying to bring people’s attention back to these issues whilst also providing lessons to incorporate into their day to day lives.”
He said a recent study completed by The Australia Institute found that 75 per cent of Australians were concerned about climate change and 82 per cent were concerned about further climate fuelled bushfires, droughts and flooding.
“The awareness is evident all around us, but what is missing is the education on what we can collectively do to change it.”
Mitch said that by showing how rewarding climate action was and making information easily accessible, he would positively influence people to act.
Aside from donating to charities such as ACF and Take 3, Mitch said the community could help by being more consumer conscious and integrating their daily routines with sustainable practice.
“The best thing about trying to live sustainably in 2022 is everyone has done the hard work for us, we just simply have to join in,” he said.
“As consumers, we can decide which companies get to have our money, and with this power, we can create any future we want.”
Mitch said incorporating small things into household routines such as recycling, supporting sustainable companies and ditching single-use plastics in favour of reusables was a great start.
“A massive tip for Newcastle is to ditch single-use coffee cups and get a fun reusable one,” he said.
“Australians use 1 billion disposable coffee cups each year.
“I always find this statistic so crazy; I recently punched the numbers, and it totals to $405,000 worth of cups being thrown out each day.”
He also advocated for using closed loops systems that take waste products and repurpose them, such as Return and Earn.
“My perspective is that this planet, out of the million others in the universe, was lucky enough to be able to cultivate life and we are even luckier to be able to enjoy it,” Mitch said.
“I want future generations to be able to enjoy it just as much as we have.”