Melbourne girls strap on their hiking boots

Members of the group at Mt Bogong, the highest mountain in Victoria. Picture: Tamara Hutchins 

 

By SALONEE MISTRY

In just 10 months, the girls-only outdoor community Melbourne Girls Outside has grown to more than 2000 members.

The group runs weekly weekend trips that go all around Victoria, which are now usually booked out well in advance. 

Emily Rayner, Eliza Sum and Tamara Hutchins co-founded the group with two other friends, after being a part of another hiking group for a few years, in an attempt to get rid of the uncomfortable experience that many women feel hiking in a co-ed group.

Ms Sum said the female-only community aimed to give women a safe space to embrace their adventurous side while doing outdoor activities.

“It’s not that we hate men, but when we go on co-ed trips, we almost always land up getting hit on and it tends to be intimidating,” Ms Sum said.

“With co-ed trips women are sometimes judged with not being able to do some activities properly, and as a woman-only community we do away with this, empowering women in a small way.

“Our community has helped create a non-judgmental space, making it a friendly environment for first-timers.”

The group taking on the Grampians Hike. Photo: Lisa Anderson

Ms Sum said their aim was to offer outdoor lovers more than just hiking.

“There is so much around the city and at nearby destinations like kayaking, rock climbing, bouldering, that not exploring these options felt like a waste of our love for the outdoors,” Ms Sum said.

She said it had been tough for her and the other founders of the group to juggle everything in their lives with their dedication towards this community they started.

“The fact that I am not the only one managing everything means we divide the workload which helps ease the logistics of running the community,” she said.

“So much has happened so fast that now our future plans revolve around introducing hikes and activities even during the week so that more people can be a part of this.”

Ms Sum said when they first started out, they had no idea how much the group was going to grow and were surprised with the response.

“Now with so many members, we are looking to expand the group of people who help out with the activities.”

The group did a trip to Bushrangers Bay, a beautiful area just an hour drive south of Mornington Peninsula. Photo: Eliza Sum

Ms Sum said the team’s biggest challenge was getting people to stay committed when they said they would attend an event.

“If members make a commitment but fail to attend repeatedly, they eventually get removed from the community,” she said.

Vari McGann, who moved to Melbourne in September last year, said she joined thecommunity to make friends, and had since been on seven trips.

“The group is like family and we all help each other out, not only for hiking-related queries, but for everything,” she said.

“It is a great way to meet new people and it was a huge deal in helping me settle down in a new city.”