News Release

Brisbane Youth Re-enact Mormon Handcart Trek

Young people spend Easter school holiday pulling handcarts 50 km

One hundred and twenty youth (ages 13 to 18) and their leaders from the Eight Miles Plains stake (diocese) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) participated in a three day trek from 8th April to 11th April. The trek was along a 50 kilometre stretch of Blackbutt Rail Trail in Queensland.

They trekked in 1860’s period costumes and pulled wooden carts that had been handcrafted for the event by Amish carpenters in Pennsylvania.  The carts were flat-packed and shipped to the Eight Miles Plains stake, where the youth put them together in the weeks leading up to the trek, as part of their preparation.

Each trekker was asked to bring only 7kg of personal items for the 3 day trip, which were carried in the handcarts.  They were all asked to leave electronic devices at home. 

This trek was a re-enactment of the Mormon pioneer migration. According to the Mormon Newsroom Topics page: “In all, whether they came by wagon or handcart, thousands of Mormon pioneers died on the trail.  Loved ones including children were often buried in shallow graves that never would be visited again.” Such was the pioneer sacrifice these youth seek to honour in the modern-day treks.

According to Elder Dallin H. Oaks, one of The Church’s Twelve Apostles, “The days of pioneers are not past. …In every nation, in every worthy occupation and activity, members of this Church face hardships, overcome obstacles, and follow the servants of the Lord Jesus Christ as valiantly as the pioneers of any age.” (Read or watch Elder Oak’s full address.)

The group stayed overnight at the Blackbutt Showgrounds for one night. The South Burnett News quoted Julie Taylor-Dixon, president of the Blackbutt Show Society, “They painted some fences and did some chores for us because they see it as part of the Church’s community service commitment.  They were really nice people and they’re very welcome to come back and stay with us any time they like.”

Stake president Asa Smibert said about the trek, “We wanted to provide an experience that would really stretch the youth (ages 13 to 18) and help them grow individually and as a group.  We are very fortunate to have such a great heritage of inspiring people to learn from and follow. 

“This was a chance for the youth to leave behind their cell phones and i-pads and connect with each other, their faith, and real life.  This is so important in an increasingly fast paced world.”
As part of the organised experience, the group encountered actors dressed as soldiers, robbers and historical figures who helped bring to life the history of the original Mormon trail.

Charity Faagase, one of the participants, wrote on her Facebook page, “This was one of the most challenging but at the same time most amazing, experiences I have gone through.  It has really given me a greater appreciation and love for the original pioneers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who sacrificed so much. I am so proud of all the youth for their faith and the courage they showed throughout this trek experience.  Absolutely wonderful!”

Sandra Munro, Church public affairs representative in the stake, reported, “Struggling against a constant uphill slope, and fighting blisters, exhaustion, pain and even occasional accidents along the way, the youth didn’t grumble.  There were plenty of high spirits, and a great feeling of unity and camaraderie.  The trek was challenging, but a great learning experience.”

Darius Green, a coordinator for the event said, “The youth were amazing.  Everyone jumped in and helped and there was no complaining.  The camp sites and the old rail trail were ideal for the trek, for both pioneer and Australian history. The youth were high-spirited but gave their best effort and came to rely on and appreciate one another.  This trek exceeded all expectations.”

Read more about the original pioneer trek here.

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