• The Australian Indigenous Alpine Sport Foundation rewards high-achieving students with a free snowboarding camp. (Supplied/Thredbo Media)Source: Supplied/Thredbo Media
The Australian Indigenous Alpine Sport Foundation is taking kids to new heights.
Rachael Hocking

21 Sep 2016 - 2:48 PM  UPDATED 22 Sep 2016 - 1:48 PM

For most families, trips to the snow are few and far between.

The cost of gear, travel and accommodation add up – let alone if you want to actually ski or snowboard.

“It used to cost like $400!” says Trey, a happy-go-lucky 12-year-old from Narooma, NSW.

Trey and his brother Les have just been picked for an all-expenses-paid-for snow camp to Mount Thredbo. He’s excited, because he’s never snowboarded before.

Trey and Les live a content life with their siblings and Aunty Glenis, but come from a disadvantaged background.

Kids like them inspired the Australian Indigenous Alpine Sport Foundation. Their aim is simple: to make the snow accessible to all Aboriginal youth.

“There were no opportunities for Aboriginal children to access the mountains,” says AIASF secretary, Lynda Kimber.

 “In fact it was worse than that - there'd never even been an Aboriginal entrant or competitor in any winter sport, let alone at Olympic level, just at a competition level.

“And what I saw with the children that I brought to the snow was that they had this natural ability.”

The AIASF first brought Aboriginal kids to the snow last year.

This year, with the help of sponsors, they approached Narooma High School on the New South Wales south-coast with an offer they couldn’t refuse: a free snowboarding camp for 20 of their Indigenous students.

Narooma High School’s Aboriginal Education Officer, Cherrie Sandford, describes it as once in a lifetime opportunity.

“[The principal] was so excited, he ran to my office when he heard the news!” she says.

The school has around 70 Indigenous students, but Lynda says her foundation only rewards students who have put in some hard work themselves.

“They have to attend school, and they have to behave themselves to be nominated.

“The program is free, and the reason that it is free is that we want children from all levels, no matter their economic background, to be able to access this on merit,” she said.  

“As sacred to east-coast mob as Uluru is to desert mob”

There’s another reason Lynda and the foundation wanted to bring Indigenous kids to the mountains.

“Tar Gan Gil, or what we refer to as Mt Kosciusko, is actually as sacred to East-Coast Aboriginal people, as Uluru is to the desert mob,” Lynda says.

Tar Gan Gil is also the starting point of the Bundian Way, a walking track that is thousands of years old.

The foundation hope Indigenous people from across Australia can learn the stories of Tar Gan Gil, and connect with its history.