Students in Year 9 recently returned from adventure-filled outdoor education camps in Central Australia and the Fingal Valley. Highlights of the Central Australia trip included a Mount Sonder sunrise walk, camel riding and sunset at Uluru. Closer to home, the Fingal Valley trip was much colder but no less adventurous, featuring snowboarding and skiing, indigenous studies, a Cataract Gorge trip, and the low ropes course at the Scotch Oakburn Fingal Valley campus.
The week at Fingal featured plenty of snow and waking each morning to a frost-covered football oval and birds singing. The trip began with football, played under a gliding sea eagle and fun on the low ropes course.
Evenings were a cosy, social affair with the piano and open fire, card games and a dedicated puzzle construction team successfully completing a challenging 1000-piece puzzle during the stay. The girls prepared their own meals in groups and cooked some delicious dinners, making the most of the industrial style kitchen.
Ben Lomond weather and snow conditions were superb for the two ski days and the girls chose between snowboarding and skiing lessons to learn skills to negotiate the slopes. Back at Fingal, staff from the Nita Education Centre shared their knowledge and stories of bush medicine and bush tucker in a day of activities and conversation about the rich and confronting 35,000+ year old indigenous history of Tasmania. It was an eye-opening and fascinating day and the girls enjoyed the opportunity to have such passionate and informed teachers from whom to learn about Tasmania’s indigenous history.
Year 9 student, Sarah, said: “The Fingal Valley camp was terrific. I thoroughly enjoyed snowboarding at Ben Lomond despite being injured before lunchtime. The Nita Aboriginal education was also very interesting – I learned during our bush tucker segment that the berry I mistook for a cherry tomato was actually a berry that causes infertility when eaten!”
Skiing was also a highlight for Vanessa, who added, “It’s such a remarkable moment not only to ski for the first time in the winter wonderland up on Ben Lomond, but to have it as my 15th birthday present was extra special. At first there were many falls, but at the end of the day skiing all the way down the hill felt amazing!”
During a day-trip to Launceston the girls went trampolining and visited Cataract Gorge in beautiful sunshine. Firing up the outdoor oven to cook wood-fired pizzas was a highlight!
“The 26 girls were wonderful company during our camp, helping others, being enthusiastic and making the most of the experience. The fantastic staff who accompanied us, Mr Alister Foot, Miss Eve Mure and Ms Gemma Gooley, ensured it was a fun-filled and memorable time,” said teacher, Mrs Alex Pitt.
In Central Australia, a challenging, but wonderful, trip saw 15 adventurous Year 9 girls, and three committed staff members (Mrs Ali Manson, Mr Dan Firth and Mrs Liana Hayes) waking up at 3:30am to climb Mt Sonder and catch a spectacular sunrise. The trip had an eventful start with the tour bus breaking down in the middle of nowhere, but also included some unforgettable moments: watching the sunset and sunrise over Uluru, walking between the domes of Kata tjuta, sleeping under the stars in the MacDonnell Ranges and walking amazing trails through gorges, chasms and very dry river beds.
Year 9 student, Marlo, said: “the trip gave me more confidence and independence because I was away from my family for nine days. For three nights we slept in swags, it would be fair to say that I’m not a camping person. However, I ended up absolutely loving swagging, because you could see the stars when drifting off to sleep. The red landscape in Central Australia is like no other.”
“Being with only 14 other girls, rather than our whole year was awesome and helped us to become closer as a group. Normally I enjoy camp because of all the activities that we do, but on this camp, even though the activities were great, my favourite part was actually getting to know some of the other girls more personally,” added fellow trip participant, Migali.
The final two days of the trip were based around Alice Springs with a camel ride and camel-farm tour and the chance to watch the CAFL preliminary final between the South Roos and the Federal Demons. An Anzac Hill lookout visit provided 360-degree views of the town. The girls also visited the Olive Pink Botanic Garden and the Reptile Centre where to get up close and personal with a bearded dragon, a bobtail lizard, a blue-tongue lizard and Lexi the water python!
“The Central Australia trip challenged the girls both mentally and physically. From sleeping in swags, helping prepare the group meals, the red dirt and walking the trails in the heat, there were many obstacles to their comfort levels! The girls took everything in their stride, however, which made for a remarkable 9 days away. It was such a pleasure to take these 15 girls on camp and we're already looking forward to next year’s trip,” said Mrs Hayes and Mrs Manson.