On the weekend of Ukrainian Palm Sunday, plastuny yunaky from stanytsia Victoria, Australia set off on a three-day hike in the Australian bush. This event was the first major one for yunaky and leaders of the 101 kurin from the start of russia’s full-scale war in Ukraine.

It was not an entirely certain climate in which to organise a hike, but when the weekend commenced, and particularly during the calm shared vatra nights, it became clear to everyone how important it is to unite and gather in this way. These shared intimate moments gave yunatstvo and leaders the opportunity to uphold their Ukrainian and Plast patriotic spirit through song, traditions and discussion – regardless of where in the world they are and how far this may be from Ukrainian brothers and sisters. The hike itself proved to be a challenging but rewarding experience. We walked through mountains, serene landscapes and cliff faces amongst Australia’s nature (including the sighting of more than a few kangaroos). It has become clear to every person in the past few months that nothing unites people like a common Ukrainian identity and a trying situation.

Ten leaders and sixteen participants took part in the hike, including four newly-arrived young people from all over Ukraine who have come to Australia since the start of the war. They were warmly welcomed as one of us, and finished the hike full of new experiences, friendships and sense of belonging to the ideals of Plast. The newly-arrived Ukrainians joined our hike as dear guests, some of whom have never heard of Plast before, and at the end of the weekend were completing applicant forms to join Plast. As one participant, who had arrived only over a week ago from Kyiv remarked, “Please let me know when we can join in next”.

Text: st.pl.skob Andrew Mykhaylyk

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