Charity Camel Trek  

Using our own two feet and camels to raise money for non-for-profit organisations close to heart

Tara Lea,  Adventuer Inspirational Speaker


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Camels for Cuddles Charity Camel Trek

Posted by on August 15, 2017 at 1:20 AM Comments comments (1484)

Bereaved Mother Camel Treks Gippsland Australia, Reported by ABC Gippsland

Tara Lea explains how she plans to raise funds for a cuddle cot in East Gippsland


For her, one of the hardest parts of the grieving process has been dealing with the grief of others — with family and friends who did not meet Noah and spend time with him.

Noah was born in East Gippsland, but was airlifted to a Melbourne hospital soon after his birth.

“He had a really difficult birth and he struggled with brain damage from his birth, due to a lack of oxygen,” Ms Lea said.

“He was fighting against the machines. He just wasn’t interested in being here under these circumstances.

“I think we’re still very much in shock. People might say you’ll get over it, but it’s something you go through, you can never get over it.”

Ms Lea and her partner Russell Osborne had time to say goodbye to Noah in hospital thanks to a ‘cuddle cot’.

The device, a refrigerated unit that cools the base of a basinet, enables the body of a baby, or babies, to be safely stored within a decorated cot.

Ms Lea is now dedicated to raising funds for a community cuddle cot in East Gippsland, available for use by families in eastern Victoria.

A cold Cuddle Cot bassinet and cooling machine.

Ms Lea is raising funds for a cuddle cot, like this one.

Her fundraising method is unique in that she is planning a Charity Camel Trek in October with the dual purpose of raising awareness and money. Ms Lea has named the trek Camels for Cuddles.

“When a parent experiences a baby loss, they can have their baby in this cuddle cot for seven to 10 days to say final goodbyes and to admire the baby they grew and take some time,” Ms Lea said.

“It gives parents days rather than hours with their baby [and] it could be a stillborn baby or a neonatal death.

“Our experience with Noah in December 2015 was that we had a cuddle cot but we were in a Melbourne hospital.

“We didn’t have that opportunity to bring our baby home [and] we felt very isolated that we didn’t have that option.”

Ms Lea originally met her partner Mr Osborne on a camel trek through the outback.

Having grown up on a farm with cattle and horses, her affinity with camels came easily.

“I was travelling around Australia at the time with my kids and came across a station [that] had cattle and sheep,” Ms Lea said.

“I’d heard about this camel man and thought ‘Aw yeah, stinky camels’,” Ms Lea told ABC Local Radio earlier this year.

“The shorter version goes: I met Russell’s camels, fell in love with them, and then fell in love with him.”

After their outback adventure, the camels were brought to live in East Gippsland and in January this year, they began their career as a beach ride attraction.

Locals in Nicholson are slowly becoming used to seeing camels in the paddock next door and Ms Lea said incorporating the camels into her fundraising mission was an obvious link.

“The community will remember camels; it couldn’t be in the outback, it had to be in this community for this community,” she said.

Ms Lea said she had already received lots of support from people in East Gippsland, and from those further afield.

“When we started our Lakes Entrance camel rides in January this year, a few weeks after starting we wanted to do a fundraising for [volunteer organisation] Heartfelt, who take photos of new born babies who are critically ill,” she said.

“We had Heartfelt come to us twice — once when the kids were there and then on Noah’s passing hour. They are photos we will keep forever.

“I had parents come up to me and they had a similar experiences.

“It’s heartbreaking but at the same time it’s comforting to know that there’s invisible support. They were so generous with their donation and their kind words.” 

With support from the Emerikus Land Foundation charity, Ms Lea will complete her fundraising camel trek in October.


2014 Charity Camel Trek

Posted by on September 30, 2014 at 6:30 AM Comments comments (135)

The 2014 Charity Camel Trek was much more than a ‘Camel Trek’ as most anticipated. Since the idea came to me back in August 2013 the demands of the inspiration to commit all efforts - no matter what - to making this CCT a roaring success for the girls who we were about to help and for the women part of the CCT team. Everyday this trek had been on my mind since the initial idea - which really was like a wave of inspiration came over me, nothing pre-planned, just a series of inspiration and then the thought “I CANNOT sit here and do nothing” which was the lead up to making the decision to do this trek and then committing to make it possible. I didn’t know HOW I was going to get (at that time) 8 ladies inspired to join me on this weird and wonderful adventure AND raise their amount to contribute to our $10,000 goal. I have been so inspired by the 5 women that did join me (even after a few setbacks of some drop offs), they kept things going strong and we went $3,580 beyond our goal and walked arpox 100km in 7 days. The inspirational words of Richard Branson stuck in my mind like glue “If someone offers you an amazing opportunity and you’re not sure you can do it - say yes, then learn how to do it later”. So that I did!


The trek itself was intense and challenging for all involved. Migraines, Diarrhoea, back problems, sore feet were the physical aspects that challenged us all, not to mention the physical exhaustion and mental capabilities that we HAD to reply on to keep us going as our bodies began to decline the idea of going further. It’s truly amazing how the mind can control the body. In hindsight if we weren’t all so determined and committed we would have called for pick up on day two after our hot and hard 16km walk through the desert - that night everyone was in bed almost before dark!


The camels found it all a breeze! This is easy work for them, even though some complained. These beautiful beasts certainly added “magic” to this trek as wonderful desert trekking companions with a delightful calm and peace about them as the casually walk across the desert carrying all our gear and supplies. I had a real moment with all 8 camels by myself while they were feeding out… I stood in a huge space of area with the camels spread out comfortable munching away on their bush tucker, I thought to myself “This is as good as life gets! ….. BUT on the other side of the world some children are feeling worthless, unloved and abused…. battered inside and out…. without knowing if they will ever get back to their own family….” This struck me hard, and I began to cry, because right in that moment I had it so damn good, but someone else didn’t and in particular a CHILD! This made me concrete my idea to do an annual event each year to put large sums of money to organisations such as Empower and International Justice Mission so that they CAN continue their good work. As trek member Keran says “We have two arms, 2 legs and a heart beat, of course we can help!


My own family of 4 joined me on this Charity Camel Trek. My partner Russell (who i couldn’t have done this without him), Charlotte (5), Tate (4) & Owyn (13 months) were all involved in this trek. The children were absolutely AMAZING… Getting on their riding camel “Syhid" (expect Owyn, he was riding on our backs), day in and day out doing the kilometres that we needed to do. They truly blew my mind with their capabilities! Especially our Autistic son Tate, who we were most worried about “coping”. They took this all in their stride in a remarkable and admirable way. On the final night of the CCT all team members spoke of how the children inspired them to “keep going” as they were such troopers.


We walked from base camp through Mt James, to [salt] Lake Torrens, around mount James, then towards Mt Deception: sand dunes, valleys, rocky plains…. The land ‘out there’ is incredibly diverse and changes serval times throughout the day.


The generous Happy Camper Gourmet Camp Foods nourished us by night and East Gippsland Eats (Muesli) nourished us by morning, these were our major sponsors as were Beltana Station, Girl Director (Film/video company) and Outback Australia Camels. I encourage you to support these business that generously support this trek. I believe it’s important to make a statement about those that helped along the way and support them back. So much gratitude to all the people who supported this trek finically by generously giving to this cause, attending the fund-raising events and believing in the CCT team, we are all so grateful beyond words!


Before the actual physical trek has stared I began thinking about the next - yes, my mind never stops! Their will be a 2015 Charity Camel Trek, raising money for a new project yet to be revealed. 2016 CCT will be more challenging, more kilometres, more $$ raised and only for experienced trekkers or those willing to train hard to be part of the team. Applications are open over at the website along with short video’s of some our days out in the desert trekking. The journal book that will combine all team members journalling throughout the lead up to the trek and while on trek will be edited and complied into one inspirational book to be sold in Empower store(s) as an ongoing fundraiser and support, so keep your eyes peeled!

~ Tara Lea

Founder Charity Camel Trek 


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