Sharing here a beautiful and passionate poem written by Lucy Bell, Year 9 as part of her Geography investigation into the raising of Warragamba Dam wall. It speaks to the specific issue of raising the dam wall but also of raising walls that dam the flow in all of aspects of our lives. Pretty complex little poem here Lucy.   

Raising the Warragamba Dam Wall

by Lucy Bell.

There was flow; then there were walls.
In life, there is a natural flow.
It is the flow of people on streets.
The flow of the sun, radiating down on earth.
The flow of water in the rivers and seas.
The flow of the seasons, changing annually.
The flow is everywhere, critical, essential and fundamental to life, love, and liberty.
In life, there are walls.
These are the walls like a sore throat, stopping you from singing.
Dam walls stopping the waters from wading.
Walls separating families, stopping the flow of so many lives.
Walls like being stuck in a job, because you have to feed you family.
Walls are everywhere, they create distress, death and destruction.
In life, there is a drug called money.
I have pity for the people addicted to this drug.
Money corrupts people to destroy their land, their ancestors’ land. This ancient, sacred soil
air and water.
Money, the drug that causes human’s so much craziness, corruption and confusion
Lungs. Lungs and tongues and teeth and lips.
These are Our weapons to speak our mind; to Change the world and fight for tomorrow.
Let’s use them for good. Without the corruption of money.
Let’s stand in unity as a nation, as people, as citizens of earth.
Let’s stand, and break through the walls!
We need to fight, to stop the raising of a wall at Warragamba Dam!


On this round trip of some of NSW’s most iconic places, we tuned our individual heartbeats to the larger rhythms of life and landscapes. In each place we visited, the stories of that place unfolded. We went respectfully, acknowledging country, and opening our senses through quiet contemplative drawing and writing, seeking connectedness to each unique place.

This was Geography on the Road. On the south coast we explored coastal lagoons, rivers that begin in the escarpment and outlet into the sea, sacred mountains and initiation sites, and land use such as the dairy, forestry and whaling activity of past and present. In the South East forest, we visited a remnant Gondwana rainforest and beautiful inland creeks set amongst forest preserved from logging in the nick of time. We travelled to Kosciuszko, crossing the Great Dividing Range and noting the changes in the water cycle and vegetation. We stopped by at Kiandra, an historic gold rush town, and learned about the Snowy Mountain Hydro Scheme and the proposed plan for Snowy 2 (including discussing the political jostling around renewable energy targets). We then toured a cave in Yarangobilly, swam in a thermal pool  and followed the Tumut River to a caravan park for our first opportunity during the camp to shower and use facilities. In Hay we swam in the mighty Murrumbidgee River, and camped beside it under the stars. En-route to Lake Mungo we observed the productive industrial scale farming of the Riverina dependent on irrigation from the Murrumbidgee. And later, on the way home, we saw the top soils from some of these exposed fields lifting up and whirling east – the source of the dust storms experienced in Sydney and surrounds. This was an opportune time to discuss and think critically about the conventional farming practices we take so much for granted. Then we went on to Lake Mungo, a unique landscape of cultural significance to the world, it was a place where we all experienced the spiritual presence of land and ancestors.

We swam, snorkelled, surfed, clamboured alongside creeks and waterfalls, and walked respectfully on ancient lands. We met Aboriginal teachers along the way who shared culture and wisdom related to place. We took some of these teachings into our reflective circle times; exploring ways to apply three things to live by: spiritual connection to place (where place makes you part of its story), social connectedness  (a sense of belonging as well as of roles and responsibilities), and generosity (asking what we can do for others rather than what we can gain for ourselves). The descriptive writing from our explorations was vibrant, alive with the voice of authentic experience. We also talked about initiation of young people, what it might look like in our time and place. John and I share a sense that camps such as these with a teaching and experiential focus, carry many elements of what underlies initiation for young people. – the path toward independence, freedoms balanced with responsibilities, courage, resilience, ethical choices, learning from country, caring for community and for each other, and tuning your heart in to the larger  rhythm of regenerative life.

You can seed and talk about all of this in a classroom (and we have)…but you can actually experience it and bring it into a lived experience in a two week on the road geography trip! Landscapes and the people connected to them were our primary teachers. Each student identified their special teaching place, the one they felt most connected to and articulating the elements of this experience.  They also identified what they would take away as a thought, feeling and intention for their future lives.


Sharing Culture By Jasmine Porter, Year 9

On Pele Island, water is a precious substance. The women collect the water from wells linked to a natural underground water supply. I decided to help a lady named Do collect water for her family’s use. I also helped Anna draw some water for the bungalow we were staying in. We used it for washing and flushing the toilet. It was quite difficult to do but having the chance to fetch the water was awesome. To be able to experience the way the islanders live was beyond amazing.

Not only water, but food is very cherished on Pele. When Cyclone Pam came through Pele in 2015, it destroyed a lot of things including homes and gardens. Only the root crops such as manioc survived and was survival food for months after the cyclone. Now the coconut and banana trees have grown back and are ready for eating. We walked through Anna’s garden and found perfectly good coconuts on the ground. Like the people of Vanuatu on Pele, I carried a coconut on my head, well I tried to anyway. When I collected water and tried to carry a coconut on my head, it gave me a sense that theirs is an open culture, that they were ready to share with all.

From this experience on Pele, I’ve learnt that, a lot of the time, many people take food and water for granted. I don’t think some people realise how important food and water is. A lot of people waste a lot of food and water, but, the people on Pele don’t waste a drop of water or a spoonful of rice. In our society, we take and take all the time and we don’t really give anything back. By spending time on Pele, we were giving. By spending time with the children and living their way, we were also giving.  The exchange of gifts and culture, having their gifts in our embrace is a sign of gratitude for each other. “I+I=1= unity” we were told.

In the farewell ceremony, I gave a gift, from my own Aboriginal culture. To my host Anna, I gave a handwoven basket and two boomerangs made by my mum and stepdad. I was given a beautiful handwoven bag, made by Anna. It was important that we shared our cultures because I don’t get to do that often. Being able to share my culture with people from another culture was an amazing experience.

To read more about student’s experiences on their trip to Vanuatu, please click the following link:

High School Geography on the Road

WHAT AN EPIC ADVENTURE!  A 3000km round trip to some of the most iconic NSW environments. One of the exercises we did in each place was to observe, draw and write about place, then to draw a life lesson from it. The idea was to connect each landscape with our inner soulscape…..below are some life lessons from the students:

….to be like rocks that can get smashed by waves and still stand strong…. Imi

…to be like the old tree and shelter what is smaller and more vulnerable…..Nissa B

….nature provides….Jasmine

…even the moss on the tree root provides shelter and plays a vital role in the cycle of life…..Ella

….if you want to create something amazing, patience is a virtue….Sofia

….the trees stand tall creating shadows to protect creatures below from the burning sun….Oliver

…sometimes it seems someone is blocking your path but if you find a different perspective you may find they are helping or just doing what they need to do….Nissa S

…you have to look past the surface to find true beauty…Kai

…tide in, tide out; good days and bad but don’t give up…..Luca

…out of destruction comes construction; the eruption of the volcano created this special place….Oscar

…these places are special, look after them….Olivia

…don’t let others control you, be who you are and do what you feel is right….Tara L

…people should work together and not only look after themselves…..Amanda

…cooperate with each other; coldness of water and warm of rock….difference can be a bigger attraction than similarity….Belle

….be like the upright tree rather than the vine that is always in need of support….Tara M

AND FROM ME,  reflections on each person through the lens of one of the landscapes visited….

Oliver….Riverina wetlands, quiet waters, shady river gums, haven for waterbirds and playful wrens, as well as the lessons in resilience of flood and drought.

Sofia….Water falls into deep mountain crystal clear pool. Sculpted stone is sunwarmed and inviting.

Olivia…Everywhere you go, invisible breath of life becomes audible as birdsong, pound of wave, rustle of leaves and cool caress to the cheek on a hot afternoon.

Amanda…..Light footed dance of sunlight across waves. Spark and fire meet cool deep ocean.

Oscar…Sunset boy, paints a new scene at evening of the gatherings and gleanings from the observations and reflections  of the day.

Tara L….sun warmed and salted ocean pool, safe harbour for the host of tiny, tidal sea creatures.

Tara M….Lagoon life, the slow flow of luxuriantly lulling tidal journeys, drift and dream…

Kai…eyes of night, campfire constellations, telling stories of the deeds of the brave hearted.

Belle….sun filled tree lined mountain valley. Cascading stream trips, twists and tumbles. Every boulder a chance to leap into sunlight.

Nissa B…spare low blue smoke bush, protection from beating sun. Lift your eye to luminous shimmer along distant dunes of an ancient world.

Imi….Sunrise, eye of day, magical painter of landscapes; paints your day rich and wonderful, or spare and uncomfortable. Rises in wonder to the challenges of both.

Nissa S…Pick you up wild ocean; kiss you, tumble you, smooth and soothe you. Moods of the sea for the savouring.

Jasmine….Sacred place, shore to the mother mountain. Waves lip lap over and around the boulders, connecting mother land to sister sea.

Luca…Wide blue sky as far as the eye can see; light filled observer of life, warms the land and sends the odd clearing shower to get the life flowing again.

Ella…Rainforest, beneath the towering emergent, layers of sheltering canopies. Tall, twisting, tiny, strength and delicacy, critters that bite and medicine for tea. Everything connected.

Journeyman Dan…what connects it all? Senses honed by experience. Sense of wonder, sense of adventure, sense of fun, sense to travel safely, and sense to take the time to be nourished along the way.

Cheers everyone, Lynn