IMAGINE being stuck in the Simpson Desert?
Even in September the temperature hovers around 27 degrees.
It's where 210 Warrnambool College students find themselves - virtually - as they race to complete a school-run walking challenge.
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Belfast house, under the leadership of teacher Adam Dowie, set off from Port Fairy, which was originally known as Belfast, in term one with Broome in Western Australia its destination.
Through weekly walking sessions on the school oval, which enabled students to collate and keep a log book of kilometres clocked, they made a solid start to the 4000-kilometre journey.
Then COVID-19 restrictions meant a return to remote learning and a roadblock for the Belfast to Broome challenge.
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Now Dowie, who coaches Hampden league senior football side North Warrnambool Eagles, wants students to hit the pavement again, encouraging them to use their backyards, frontyards and driveways to help them close in on their destination.
"We've just gone as the crow flies and we have a big map in our office at school," he said.
"It's about 4000km and at the moment I think we're stuck in the middle of the Simpson Desert.
"I think we have about a 1000km to go. When we're at school, we can get 200 kilometres done in a session, so five weeks.
"But we're bogged down in the middle of nowhere.
"We're going to try and encourage our Belfast students to do 15 minutes' walking (a week).
"There is a Google classroom where they can all put in their results and Lauren Niklaus our ES (educational support) will add that."
Dowie said he wanted students, who range from years seven to 12, to plot out a path at home.
"Mark out a little track down your driveway or backyard, figure out how far it is, it might be 10 metres, keep a check of how many laps you do and then it's a bit of maths," he said.
"Times the number of laps by the distance and send it into Lauren and we'll add them all together and hopefully we can get to Broome halfway through term four."
Dowie said the program's main aim was to keep students active and engaged which was particularly imperative during remote learning.
"Usually schools set their own goals but this year every school was given three goals they had to achieve and one of them was 'happy, healthy and active kids'," he said.
"Our Belfast student leaders sat down at the start of the year and said 'what can we do?'.
"We are Belfast and that's Port Fairy so we said 'why don't we walk across Australia?'.
"We weren't sure how it would go but it's actually been one of the real success stories for Belfast and Warrnambool College.
"Other staff from other houses are talking about Belfast to Broome."
Warrnambool College's roughly 1250 students are spread across its six sports houses.
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