Meet your Trail trekkers

Judy Adnum & Brad Pritchard

Judy has tutored in UON’s School of Education for three years. She is an alumna of UON, having studied a BA Dip Ed and receiving a Sporting Blue. Judy trekked 50km along the Great Wall of China as part of the UON team in 2015 to raise more than $80,000 for UON's Shaping Futures scholarships. Judy believes everyone is entitled to a university education if they want one. She says "The Great Wall walk was a unique experience that challenged me and was incredibly rewarding. I met many new friends on the trek and count it as one of the best experiences I’ve ever had."

Brad is keen to see more of Australia. The opportunity to walk a part of the Larapinta Trail and support the university was too good to pass up. He was motivated by the pictures from the Great Wall walk and is keen to undertake this challenge.

Q: Judy, you also completed the Great Wall of China Walk in 2015, what are you most looking forward to about Larapinta?

A: All of it. The last trek was so unique. This one will be full of different challenges and experiences.

To donate to Judy and Brad please click here.


Richard Anicich

Richard is a partner of Sparke Helmore Lawyers and Conjoint Professor in UON’s Law School. He is particularly active in the business community for the region, being a director and past president of the Hunter Business Chamber, chair of the Australian Institute of Company Directors’ Hunter Committee and a non-executive director of Hunter Primary Care. Having successfully climbed to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro a few years ago, Richard has been looking for another trekking challenge. The Larapinta Trail Challenge not only meets that objective but is a great opportunity to help the University achieve its aim of raising funds to support Indigenous education and research into community health issues. So get on board and help Richard and others beat the $100,000 target!

Q: How’s your training going?  …

A:  It’s getting there, but will need a few more long walks through Glenrock coming up over the next couple of months.

… and the fundraising?

A:  I have exceeded my initial target which just means the target keeps increasing.  I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of so many who have contributed so far.

To donate to Richard please click here.


Connor Brown

Connor is coordinating and participating in the UON Larapinta Trail Challenge. He has been working in the fundraising space for seven years, coming to the University with experience of business development and marketing with for-profits and not-for-profits. Connor says “I think all Australians have a responsibility to support equity for Indigenous people. I am very excited about having the opportunity to learn more about the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and have always had great respect for their culture and country. I hope to make a real and lasting impact on the lives of Indigenous Australians through the Larapinta Trail Challenge.”

To donate to Connor please click here.


Bronwyn Chambers

Elder-in-residence at UON’s Ourimbah campus, Aunty Bronwyn is passionate about the transformational power of education for Indigenous people. She is very much looking forward to the Larapinta Trail Challenge and to supporting our Indigenous students and research into Indigenous community health issues.

Q: What are you most looking forward to about the Challenge?

A: So many things! Being on Arrernte Country and being Welcomed to their Country by an Arrernte woman and giving the opportunity to walk, see and stay on their country. Hearing language spoken fluently; my family was prohibited from speaking and teaching language, so they were unable to pass language down to family. I have only been learning my Darkinung language for eight years as I have a passion for languages and I can only speak a few words. Meeting and getting to know everyone and sharing stories.

To donate to Bronwyn please click here.


Matt Chester

A graduate of UON, Matt is also a team leader in UON's Business School. Working with UON students, Matt sees first-hand how support for students can make a real difference to their studies and lives outside of university. His wife participated in the Great Wall of China walk in 2015 and he was inspired by the efforts of those champions in raising money for students in need.  So, when the Larapinta Trail challenge opportunity came up, he jumped at the chance. Matt is looking forward to raising funds from his networks to support Indigenous students and research for Indigenous community health issues.

Q: What motivated you to undertake UON’s Larapinta Trail Challenge?

A: Great adventure in a part of the country I haven’t visited before and being an alumnus, an opportunity to give back to benefit the University’s students and researchers.

To donate to Matt please click here.


Mitchell Cook

Mitch is a highly experienced recruitment consultant and driving force behind GWG Partners’ success in sourcing skilled people within the engineering, construction, technical, manufacturing sectors. Outside of work he spends time with his family and playing sport – he has a long history in local football, having played soccer professionally and recreationally, including taking home the grand final for Wallsend FC last year. Mitch has a strong commitment to youth services, with several years spent as a youth worker with non-profit Allambi Care. He is looking forward to representing GWG Partners in this fantastic Challenge!

Q:  What motivated you to undertake UON’s Larapinta Trail Challenge?

A:  The opportunity for our business, GWG Partners, to give back to the local community through raising funds and awareness on two prevalent issues that still effect the Indigenous community today. The trek will be a unique and incredibly rewarding experience which will provide a challenge and the opportunity to learn more about Indigenous heritage.

To donate to Mitch please click here.


Kurt Dahl

Kurt is a Chemical Engineer who graduated from UON in 1997. Over the past 20 years Kurt has worked in mining and water treatment across Asia Pacific. In 2008, Kurt started an engineering consultancy, Permeate Partners, focused on local water solutions and membrane-based treatment systems. Permeate’s head office is located in Newcastle and it has an ongoing commercial relationship with UON for membrane analysis. Through his involvement and support of WaterAid, Kurt has witnessed first-hand the wide ranging community benefits from health programs and education. Kurt says “I’m looking forward to the Larapinta Trial and all the opportunities and challenges it will bring. I am conscious of the enormous impact that UON’s efforts in supporting indigenous students and communities will have on capacity building and long term community wellbeing.”

To donate to Kurt please click here.


Barry Dowell

Barry is a General Practitioner from Adelaide and is a strong supporter of the mission of the University of Newcastle. He says, “As a GP I have first-hand experience of the health challenges that face the Indigenous community. Improving higher education opportunities for Indigenous students and funding Indigenous research is an important measure towards addressing these challenges. I am very much looking forward to experiencing this amazing trail and feel honoured to know that we will be Welcomed to Country by a member of the Arrente community and be able to learn more about local Indigenous culture from members of the community.”

To donate to Barry please click here.


John Doyle AM

John is an alumnus of UON, graduating with Bachelor of Arts in the 1980s and receiving an Honorary Doctor of Letters in 2001. A well-known radio and TV personality with a career spanning more than 20 years, John is most recognisable as ‘Roy Slaven’, one half of legendary Australian comedy duo ‘Roy & H.G.’ In 2010 John was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for service to the media as a presenter and entertainer, and as a supporter of a range of charitable organisations. John says, “UON has a terrific track record in tackling the two great issues that shamefully still confront Indigenous Australians - chronic health issues and limited educational opportunities. Having a long walk on the Larapinta Trail is a simple and effective way of drawing attention to these issues, and at the same time generating practical outcomes. All monies raised are tax-deductible and will be specifically targeted towards Indigenous health and education. I'm more than happy to walk in the wilderness for days, hopefully you'll be happy to open the wallet and send a few dollars towards the challenge. I suspect I'll be pretty buggered towards the end.”

To donate to John please click here.


Joe Herbertson AM

Joe is a co-founder and Director of Hunter-based technology company The Crucible Group. He was formerly head of the BHP Central Research Laboratories at Shortland. As a Conjoint Professor, he has supervised four PhD students at UON. His two daughters have turned to UON for second degrees in education and environmental science. Joe is recognised for his contributions to sustainability driven innovation. He says "As a scientist, my day job addresses the material aspects of sustainability, through technology developments that create value from waste, operate in balanced carbon cycles, generate renewable energy and restore soil quality in agriculture. But ultimately, sustainability is about a civilised future for society, grounded in humanitarian values and a respect for nature. That is why I am taking part in the Larapinta Trail Challenge – to learn much more about the people and natural environment at the very heart of Australia and to do something positive about the persistent inequity that still plagues our first Australians”.

To donate to Joe please click here.


Andrew Johnson

Upon graduating from his dentistry degree, Andrew moved to Newcastle, becoming a well-known and respected dentist in the region. He has developed an affinity with Newcastle's sporting community (having been the consultant dentist for the Breakers, Falcons, Pirates, Eagles and Knights) and is associated with Hunter Academy of Sport and the Jets Football Club. Andrew says he is exceptionally lucky to have seen many Indigenous sportspeople given opportunities to compete at the highest sporting level, believing such opportunities can be extended to the world of academia among our Indigenous youth. He is thrilled about the opportunity to promote good health in our Indigenous communities through the Challenge.

To donate to Andrew please click here.


Helen Le Gresley

Helen is an Executive Officer in UON's Faculty of Health and Medicine. Having grown up in rural Western Australia, in Yamaji country, before moving to Newcastle she has remained committed to improving equity of access to high quality health care for all Australians.  A stint in the UK saw her complete the Moonwalk, a 42km walk (following the London marathon route) which supports research into breast cancer. She is looking forward to participating in the Larapinta Trail Challenge in the Northern Territory, not only to raise important funds to support research that benefits Indigenous communities but also as the NT is the only state/ territory in Australia she has never visited.

Q:  Have you ever done anything like this before?

A:  Did a 42km walk in 8.5 hours ….but that was in the heart of London… at midnight… on a Saturday night… wearing a bra (to raise money for breast cancer). So a little bit different!

To donate to Helen please click here.


Gabor Major

Gabor is Director of Rheumatology in the Bone & Joint Institute of the Royal Newcastle Centre, and a Conjoint Senior Lecturer in UON’s School of Medicine and Public Health. In his field he has seen many occasions of scholarships allowing people to achieve their full potential and fully supports this fantastic cause. Gabor says “While going on such a historic Trail in the unique environment of Central Australia will be both exciting and a challenge, the opportunity to learn more about Indigenous culture is one of the things I am most looking forward to."

To donate to Gabor please click here.

David Mathers

David is a Consultant Physician in Rheumatology and Senior Clinical Lecturer in UON’s Faculty of Health & Medicine. David enjoys the outdoors; some years ago he walked the Kokoda Track and later successfully climbed to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro.  He is looking forward to the Larapinta Trail Challenge and seeing an area of Australia he has never been to before. He hopes to gain a greater understanding of Indigenous culture and is keen to raise funds to support Indigenous students and research into community health issues. It’s a win–win! He just hopes he can make it on a dodgy knee and a patched heart.

To donate to David please click here.


Nat McGregor

Nat is Chief Operating Officer for UON. He has a strong association with the University, having gained a Bachelor of Commerce here in 1996 and an MBA through Deakin University in 2006. Nat is a father of four children ranging from 9 to 17 years old. This by far is the hardest job he's ever held! Nat enjoys the surf and keeping as fit as possible – the Larapinta Trail Challenge will test this! He tries to swim most mornings and trains his local Little Nippers Club. Nat says, “I’m excited about the Larapinta Trail trek, and ready to meet head on the challenges that it will throw my way. I’m also very proud to be contributing to support the health and wellbeing of our Indigenous community, and hope to learn more about Australia’s indigenous heritage."

To donate to Nat please click here.


Liz Milward

Liz is Associate Professor in UON’s School of Biomedical Sciences and Pharmacy, with research expertise in medical genetics. She is thrilled to be taking on the Larapinta Trail Challenge and supporting Indigenous education and research into Indigenous community health issues.

To donate to Liz please click here.


Annie Nichols

Annie is a physiotherapist who has recently relocated to Walgett in northern NSW to pursue a passion of working in rural and remote health. In her first year of studying for a Bachelor of Physiotherapy at UON, Annie was awarded a Shaping Futures Scholarship. She says, “without this scholarship, following my goals of completing a university degree would have been extremely difficult.” Annie “wants to help make a real difference for dedicated students in need” and this is her second Challenge to support UON’s dedicated students in need: in 2015, she trekked 50km along the Great Wall of China and contributed to raising more than $80,000 for UON Shaping Futures scholarships.

Q:  What do you hope is the outcome for you personally in taking on the Challenge?

A:  Being able to conquer the physical challenge of walking 65km, learning more about the Indigenous culture - being able to connect with the culture and being inspired by the beautiful scenery of the Australian Outback. Oh, and surviving five days without arguing with the twins!

To donate to Annie please click here.


Lucy Nichols

Lucy is in her second year studying for a Bachelor of Law and a Bachelor of Arts majoring in history and politics at UON. In 2016 Lucy was awarded Indigenous scholarships that enabled her to live on campus. She believes that these scholarships have given her lots of exciting opportunities. Lucy is very excited about taking part in UON’s Larapinta Trail Challenge and says she is “thrilled to be given an opportunity to assist other Indigenous students."

To donate to Lucy please click here.


Sophie Nichols

Sophie is in her second year studying for a Bachelor of Arts, English and Sociology at UON. She was awarded Indigenous scholarships to support her studies and says that “they enabled her to complete her first year of study with little financial stress.” Sophie is passionate about Indigenous affairs and is “looking forward to raising funds through this Challenge to support other Indigenous students like herself.”

Q:  What are you most looking forward to about the Challenge?

A:  Visiting the Northern Territory, and seeing the benefits to support UON Indigenous students and UON research into Indigenous community health issues improvements from the funds raised.

To donate to Sophie please click here.


Michael Robertson

Michael is a proud alumnus of UON, having completed a Bachelor of Education (Music) (Hons I). As a father of four young children, he enjoys spending time with his family and introducing them to new experiences amidst a hectic schedule of after-school and weekend sports and activities. In his leadership roles as the Associate Director, Faculty Services in UON's Faculty of Education and Arts and as a member of the University Council, Michael strives to positively ‘pay back’ to UON and influence the lives and wellbeing of the many students, colleagues and communities that he encounters every day. As a passionate advocate for the transformational power of education, this challenge is a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate a commitment to further support and benefit Indigenous education and research. Michael is very much looking forward to the opportunity to (literally) ‘walk the talk’ in supporting the educational aspirations of Indigenous students and contributing to the wellbeing of Australia’s Indigenous communities.

To donate to Michael please click here.


Dr William Tan - powered by

Dr William Tan is a Neuroscientist, Physician and Paralympian. From the Mayo Clinic in the United States, Dr William Tan went to the University of Newcastle in 1997 to study medicine. William is also a Paralympian, World Records Holder, international inspirational speaker and Asian-Pacific Games triple gold medallist. He has been the holder of six endurance marathon world records, including “Fastest time to complete 7 marathons in 7 continents (including Antarctica and North Pole) in 27 days”. His resilience in turning adversities (which include childhood poliomyelitis and stage 4 leukemia) has inspired many. Since 1986, he has devoted himself to advocating for accessibility in the built environment and transportation; for equal opportunity and employment of persons with disabilities. His ultramarathon efforts have helped raised more than S$18 million to support research and needy causes.

To donate to William please click here.


Glenn Turner

Glenn is a long-time resident and champion of the Hunter Valley region with business experience across a number of sectors. His community involvement includes service with various industry bodies and a number of UON faculties. Glenn assisted with the creation of a regional innovation ecosystem, the growth of medical research funding and has a lengthy commitment to rugby union. In 2014 Glenn raised $100,000 for the Hunter Medical Research Institute for research into dementia, diabetes and depression by walking 2,000km non-stop and solo from Canterbury to Rome. Glenn says, “Health and education are huge issues for Australia right now, and targeted assistance to those with the least opportunity in Australia is just compelling, plus I get the opportunity to pull the boots on again”.

To donate to Glenn please click here.


Michelle Van Gestel

Michelle is an alumna of UON and has taught at the University for eight years as part of the Creative Arts education team, Faculty of Education and Arts. Michelle truly believes in the transformational power of education, and sees this challenge as a positive opportunity to impact Indigenous students. She is looking forward to the Larapinta Trail Challenge and to visiting an area of Australia she has never seen before. Michelle hopes to gain a better understanding of Indigenous communities and culture, as well as making a practical contribution towards Indigenous education and research into Indigenous community health issues.

Q:  Have you ever done anything like this before?

A:  No – this is a new experience for me and definitely outside my comfort zone.

To donate to Michelle please click here.


Peter Waring

Associate Professor Peter Waring is Murdoch’s Singapore Dean, responsible for advancing the University’s academic and strategic interests in Singapore. Peter has previously held academic positions at the University of Newcastle and the University of NSW (Asia) including the leadership positions of Acting Pro Vice Chancellor (International) at the University of Newcastle and Academic Director and Deputy CEO of Newcastle’s Singapore operations. A qualified lawyer, Peter also holds degrees in Commerce and Management. He is the co-author of four books on employment relations and has published more than seventy book chapters and articles in leading international and national journals. In 2011, Peter was a recipient of the Australian Government’s ‘Outstanding Young Alumni Award’ in Singapore. Peter will be undertaking the trek to honour the memory of his father, Trevor Waring - former Chancellor of the University of Newcastle and Conjoint Professor of Clinical Psychology who passed away in August last year and was himself, a strong supporter of Indigenous education.

To donate to Peter please click here


Gail White and Shane Hughes

Gail is an alumna of UON and has worked with the University for over 25 years. She is currently Academic Registrar. In 2015, Gail trekked 50km along the Great Wall of China, contributing to raising more than $80,000 for UON Shaping Futures scholarships. She is looking forward to the Larapinta Trail Challenge and raising funds to support Indigenous students and research for Indigenous community health issues. She says she’s “keen to combine her enjoyment of walking with raising funds for such a good cause. I’m looking forward to joining old friends made on the Great Wall trek and making new ones as we raise even more money this time around”.

Shane is a UON alumnus having studied Arts/Law, graduating in the first cohort of Law graduates of UON. Shane and Gail's daughters Madeleine and Elizabeth are also UON graduates who appreciate the value of higher education. Shane is keen to join Gail and their friends Judy and Brad on this adventure. The biggest challenge will be reaching the ambitious fundraising target but he’s sure the team’s many friends and colleagues will get behind this great cause.

Q: Gail, you also completed the Great Wall of China Walk in 2015, what are you most looking forward to about Larapinta?

A: I can’t wait to see the scenery. It looks fantastic in the pictures. I can’t wait to be there and see it. It’s a part of Australia none of us has been to.  And there’s the extra sense of purpose in doing this. That you’ve raised the money. There’s a personal challenge in preparing and exerting yourself but it’s made more enjoyable all round because of the extra factor that goes with it which is the opportunity to raise money and know it is being put to good purpose.

To donate to Gail and Shane please click here.