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Meet the locals taking on the Simpson Desert for domestic violence survivors

It’s time to meet the nine courageous people from the Hunter who will spend 22 days crossing the Simpson Desert to raise awareness and funds for Jenny’s Place Domestic Violence Resource Centre.

This August, the hikers will face stifling heat and humidity, and freezing cold conditions over 440 kilometres and 1,100 sand dunes with one thing in mind… Helping women and children to escape domestic and family violence.

“We have set ourselves a target to raise $150,000 through the treks this year,” trek leader and Jenny’s Place Community Relations Coordinator, Donna George, said.

“This will enable our DVRC caseworkers to continue to support women and children to plan their exit from violent relationships and rebuild their lives in safety.”

Donna, an experienced hiker, will hit the desert only months after conquering a seven-day trek through uncharted tracks of Kakadu National Park.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, Donna has also survived the jungles of Borneo to complete the Sandakan Track ‘Death March’, climbed Mt Kilimanjaro in Africa, and conquered the incredibly challenging Kokoda Track twice!

Jenny’s Place opened the first feminist women’s domestic and family violence shelter in Newcastle 45 years ago. They now operate two crisis shelters – one for families and one for women without children.

“Experience shows us that early intervention with women experiencing domestic violence can prevent them from reaching crisis point. Practical support and advice empower women to regain control of their lives and take the difficult steps necessary to escape abuse and violence,” Executive Manager of Jenny’s Place, Marcia Chapman, said.

Below, you can meet the people who are taking on the challenge and relying on sponsorship and donations to make their efforts count. Click on the individual support links below or visit to find out more.


Ali Kimmorley

Why I am doing this trek?
The Simpson Desert trek will be the longest one I have done in terms of kms and time and I want to challenge myself in support of the women and children of Jenny’s Place who endure extremely challenging times through domestic violence and homelessness.

An interesting fact about me
For those that have done treks with me in the past you will know that I heave at many things – chewy gum, teeth brushing, digging holes to go to the toilet!

Carol Compton

Why I am doing this trek?
Why? It is such a wonderful organisation and so happy to be able to be part of this challenge with the other amazing trekkers.

An interesting fact about me
I have completed 12 consecutive Ironman Triathlon events way back 1995 – 2005.

Donna George

Why I am doing this trek?
Every Trek I have done I have seen a group of like-minded people come together to do something amazing.   They put themselves completely outside their comfort zone to be a part of helping others.  People’s strength and determination absolutely amaze me and it is an amazing thing to be a part of.

An interesting fact about me
This will be my 7th Trek to raise funds for a Charity.  I have done the Kokoda Track twice and broke my wrist on day 2 of the second time I did it, but still finished it.

Emma McCabe

Why I am doing this trek?
After having completed the Larapinta Trail and Kokoda Track several years ago, I am hooked! I love the feeling of being out in the wilderness and getting back to the basics of life. Participating in a charity trek like this one is fulfilling and adds purpose to the experience. I enjoy being challenged both physically and mentally, all while raising funds for a much-needed cause such as Jenny’s Place.

An interesting fact about me
I can ride a skateboard while wearing a cape.

Jenny Hughes

Why I am doing this trek?
Coming out of COVID, I needed to find purpose in my every day.  I got tired of hearing about the escalation of violence in homes, and the increasing fatalities as a result of DV. I want to contribute, so those who already make a difference can influence change. This trek will be a challenge physically and personally, but I think it will also be empowering.

An interesting fact about me
I don’t think there is anything particularly interesting about me but I’ll give it a go – Besides family and friends, I love all the good things in life….travel, the outdoors, music, wine, food and dancing (although some might disagree about my dancing being good)..!!

Kim Newnham

Why I am doing this trek?
I am a psychiatrist in private practice in Hamilton, and I have been working in psychiatry across the region since 1996. I see many women who are in situations of domestic violence and have witnessed first-hand the devastating effects on long-term mental health that it causes. What I have found to be very protective in terms of improving the mental health outcomes of these women is access to information about legal and safety options available. For this reason, I wish to put my support behind Jenny’s place, both now and in the future.

An interesting fact about me
An (interesting?) fact about me- I love desert hiking because I am terrified of heights, and there are usually no high cliff edges (where I habitually “freeze”).

Lisa Vitnell

Why I am doing this trek?
1/ to challenge myself
2/ wonderful course
3/ meet new people that are like-minded
4/ to see the desert

An interesting fact about me
Fact about me; I prefer savoury over sweet… I love cheese!

Sharon Cameron

Why I am doing this trek?
For me doing the Simpson Desert Trek is about raising funds and awareness for Jenny’s Place and supporting the wonderful women and children they help. But also l am doing it to challenge myself, get out of my comfort zone. I have so many wonderful memories of walking the Kokoda Track 4 years ago and l am looking forward to taking on this challenge for a wonderful cause.

An interesting fact about me
I recently had to administer CPR to a client, who had choked, whilst the OOO operator was on the phone walking me through it and the ambulance was on it’s way. It was frightening but thankfully he ended up being okay. Not something I hope I ever have to do again.

Troy Cameron

Why I am doing this trek?
I’m doing this trek as it’s important to raise money for such a good charity and to create/spread awareness and try to stop domestic violence as it happens far too often in society.

An interesting fact about me
I love football and support the Newcastle Knights. I have my own bee hives that produce lots of honey and I recently got engaged to my partner while holidaying in Mexico.