From humble beginnings in a three bedroom house in Montmorency many years ago, Anthony Hall began the long journey towards what is now known as Halls Outdoor Education. A far cry from some of the current facilities in operation within the tranquil surrounds of Gembrook and Emerald Victoria.
Saturday marked a special occasion for Halls Outdoor Education. Over lunch at Stringybark Lodge in Gembrook, Anthony, his team and a number of guests celebrated twenty years of active outdoor education.
Looking back with pride and a sense of humour, Anthony reminisced over Halls Outdoor Education’s humble beginnings; being able to store all of the company’s facilities and equipment under his house, all the while growing the business into the substantially larger operation that it is today.
Anthony is passionate about outdoor activities and had this to say during Saturday’s celebration:
“I started as a teacher … and I’ve always said to people – I’m still a teacher.”
“I don’t teach in the classroom anymore. My classroom is in the outdoors. The passion that I have got for taking – particularly young people – into (the) outdoors is something that I have tried to foster amongst the staff that we have.”
“I must say that I’ve been blessed with a lot of staff that share that passion. What we do is take people into the outdoors and teach them about themselves – teach them about the environment: teach them to be better social beings, to then go on to bigger and better things.”
“A number of people here have either gone through our traineeships (or) our programs. They are now running things themselves… Looking at people that (now) have real jobs and responsibilities, that have come through our programs is really quite pleasing for me – that we can do that.”
In 2001, Anthony purchased Stringybark Lodge – set on 26 acres of bush and cleared land. Stringybark Lodge has grown to offer low rope courses, a problem solving trail, minigolf, bush hut building activities and much more. With a little extra guidance for some of the more adventurous, the Lodge also offers abseiling, a flying fox, orienteering, mountain biking and other fun activities.
In 2008, Anthony purchased Wombat Corner, surrounded by Emerald Lake Park. Originally designed as a hills guest house, over the years it has managed to keep its charm and character despite having been extended in order to accommodate groups of up to 95 people. Wombat Corner is an accredited camp site and is predominately used for School Camps, weekend groups and outdoor activities; offering a range of the fun adventurous activities available at Stringybark. Owing to its proximity to Emerald Lake, Wombat Corner also offers a number of additional water based activities.
Halls Outdoor Education has been training future guides and instructors since 1998 when it teamed up with Swinburne University to deliver Certificate III, IV and Diploma in Outdoor Recreation. In 2010 Halls delivered these courses under the auspices of MACE (Mansfield Adult Continuing Education), from 2015 these will be delivered under their own RTO “The Outer Eastern Training Institute”. Training in Outdoor activities can be undertaken as a complete certificate course or as standalone activity clusters. See the Halls website for further details.
Cr. Brett Owen and Jason Wood MP (Federal Member for Latrobe) were also in attendance at Saturday’s lunch. Jason Wood shares in Anthony’s passion for outdoor education. Many years ago, Mr Wood was a rock climbing and cross country skiing instructor.
Mr Wood said “What Anthony has achieved with Halls Outdoors is simply amazing because it is a very tough field working in the outdoors. There’s not a great deal of money within it, yet he’s been able to turn this business into something special…” – referring to the delivery of 30,000 student days per year.
Mr. Wood went on to say that Anthony and his team taught useful real world skills that helped to build confidence, motivation and taught more about teamwork.
“When you’re hearing so many bad things in the world with drugs, etc. This is something absolutely fantastic – for the young people, what Anthony is doing here; helping them to develop as adults and also for the staff; the skills they get – it’s going to hold them in great stead for the rest of their lives.”
For more information on Halls Outdoor Education, visit http://www.hallsoutdoored.com.au/