It was meant to be a trip of meditative enrichment and physical endurance - and for a month, at least, it was.
Along with a close friend, Launceston literature and philosophy postgraduate Julien Tempone set off on the famed Annapurna Circuit in the mountain ranges of central Nepal in early February.
At the time, coronavirus was largely only impacting China and there was no advice from the Australian Government to avoid overseas travel.
But while he was away for a month - with no phone or internet reception - things escalated rapidly.
When he descended from the mountains and turned on his phone, he realised the extent of his predicament.
"We had hundreds of messages from people telling us to get back, get out, that the virus was a pandemic," he said.
"We booked the first flight to Kathmandu from Pokhara, arrived that evening, then got the news that Nepal had just declared lock down. We weren't leaving, the airport was closed, our flights to Australia had been cancelled."
Like with other Australians stranded in far-reaching corners of the globe during the pandemic, the embassy worked to organise a commercial flight out of the country.
But like with elsewhere, the cost was exorbitant.
"It would be AU$4000, which is roughly 10 times the normal price," Mr Tempone said.
"There were friends and Australians with families of 2-3 kids - they were being asked to pay $20,000 to go home. There were many who simply couldn't afford it, and the government was offering no loans, no means of support, no subsidies - and no evacuations.
"Everyone was concerned for the safety of those least affluent Australians who would be stranded in Nepal by this commercial flight."
AUSTRALIANS STUCK ABROAD:
The seeming inequity of the situation prompted Mr Tempone to start a campaign against "the injustice wrought by this decision", spreading a message through social media channels urging the government to bring its citizens home without them having to pay such an excessive fee.
"Security is not only for the rich," he wrote.
Along with other Australians, Mr Tempone remained in Kathmandu, continuing to lobby for support for all.
He is trapped in a guest house, unable to go outside at all, while the locals appear to be increasingly wary and fearful of foreigners who are being seen as potential carriers of the coronavirus. Mr Tempone suspects this will become worse as the COVID-19 cases become more dramatic in Nepal.
But his thoughts were with the other Australians, rather than himself.
Mr Tempone said it would be impossible for them to remain in Nepal for the duration of the pandemic, with predictions it could last for at least six months.
"They risk being homeless. The government has offered no means for them to live here, nor to get home, so those who were coming towards the ends of their funds risk being trapped in Nepal for six months," he said.
"What will they do when they run out of money for food or accommodation and the pandemic ramps up?
"Everyone was caught off guard by this pandemic, and as Australian citizens, taxpayers and the vulnerable, the government has a responsibility to get us back home - home where we can expect good healthcare should the virus spread here, as it is showing signs of spreading."
CORONAVIRUS LATEST FOR TASMANIA:
They were also desperate to avoid becoming a burden on Nepal, one of Asia's poorest countries where public health resources are limited.
"The spread of the pandemic here would bring this country to its knees," Mr Tempone said.
"The massively over-burdened health system, in a time of pandemic where travel healthcare doesn't work, will see Australians dying alone in a foreign country.
"Nepal doesn't need Australians to stay and use essential resources that Nepalis will need to use in the coming months."
The Nepal Airlines flight carrying 222 Australians and 28 New Zealanders left Kathmandu on Wednesday, scheduled for arrival in Brisbane on Thursday. Since that flight was arranged, there has been no news of any other commercial flights evacuating Australians from Nepal.
It is a situation being repeated across the world. This week, 300 Australians landed in Sydney after being repatriated from South America, but more remain in countries like Peru.
Others in India hold similar concerns to Mr Tempone, fearful of the consequences of remaining in a country with an over-burdened public health system and where locals are growing wary of foreigners.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is attempting to respond to a high volume of queries regarding Australians stuck overseas and a spokesperson said they will have a response to the issues in Nepal in the coming days.
DFAT has previously stated it would consider matters on a "case-by-case basis".