High School North West Island Camp 2015

High school have returned from their class trip to North West Island on the Great Barrier Reef where they did an ecology/geography lesson in situ, as well developing skills and stamina in minimalist impact camping, and snorkeling. The big idea behind the lesson was looking at the island/reef environment through the lens of COOPERATION and seeing how that is reflected in our personal and social lives as well. We saw the beauty and intricacy of coral as habitat for diverse species and had close encounters with Shovel Nose Rays, Stingrays and Reef Sharks! On the way up, we met farmers who are fighting to keep farmland for food against powerful mining interests and an Aboriginal man, Wayne, gave us heartfelt insights into his connection to country and filled our water bottles with pure waters from his artesian bore. We were on the island for the start of the Paris Climate Talks and took the opportunity to be a part of the conversation that is being had in regard to Climate justice. Students returned with a swag of stories and experiences, a little more independence and confidence in meeting challenges, and a little more connected to “country”.

High School Camp

High School Camp


There is no substitute for experience!  In term 4 last year, High school covered 3000km in two weeks, exploring the diverse regions of NSW. We explored the coastal region of Durras to Eden, the South East Forest National Park, Kosciuszko National Park, the Hay plains, the desert at Lake Mungo and the fossil – mine trail Canowindra/Orange.

We sketched, wrote, swam, bounded, climbed, walked, sang, gave presentations, met with locals and pondered the life lessons each of these unique environments could bring us… we experienced the treasures of hidden wonderlands, the power of surging ocean, the sweet secrets of mountain cascades, the extraordinary cooperation of rainforest, the tenacity of desert and the eureka moment of prospecting for the gold of friendship and camaraderie at  Ophir.

Every journey had its feats and accomplishments, its wonders and challenges. The sharp observations and deep reflections of the students, captured in their daily journaling, revealed empathy, connectedness and hence care for each of these wild and unique environments. Yes there were bumps and pointy edges but there was also honesty, openness, kindness and generosity.

These students are all genuine travelers now. In the words of KaIindra, they were able to separate from “the herd” for a time to consider themselves in the context of the greater, complex and wonder filled world that we are all a part of.  We climbed mountains, walked the plains, swam rivers and descended into caves, we went back in geological time and projected our thoughts into the future. These are deeply ethical young people. Their optimism and zest for life, is like the morning song of birds that continually encircles our earth. You can’t do all of this in the class room.  But you can do it in two weeks on the road!



“Fears are our boundaries, but fears are not our limits”.  Olive


“Everyone knows how our journey ends, but we determine our path.”  Dylan



Walks on the wildside

Her totem is wolf

Waves tumble and crush her –

She comes up laughing

Eager for more.



Crack open the thunder

egg of Bella

And she sparkles like cut quartz –

Light dances off

Clean, facetted edges.

You can’t put it back again!



A lofty soul

But as down to earth

As a bloke can be –

Silver and gold!



Some folk are poetry in motion

Silver tongued syllables

Make rough roads smooth

And unexpected twists and turns

Into gift wrapped surprises.



The word is his sword

and his shield.

He wields both in a tournament

Of changing characters

Rolled out for the mirth of his friends –

Foes retreat, friends advance

When the songman charms…



Who else can la la the complete canon

Of Pacobel, and wax lyrical on Picasso

While she deftly draws

the iconic lace monitor – Aboriginal style;

to make a postcard for an asylum seeker

in detention.



Sharp as a tack

With a fair dose of wit,

A swample of courage

And a handshake you can bet

He’ll honour for the rest of his life.




He’s dry as a drought

And yet quenches thirst!

His funny ways will lend you

The stitches you need to put your life

Back together – seamlessly!



Draws her friends around her

Like a cloak of finely spun silk

With the slightest gesture, she sends them

Shimmering and swirling around her,

Like ocean froth



Strike a light! And there

Goes Dylan – striding, direct,

Observant, throwing light around

Like there is no tomorrow

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Perisher Ski Trip – Class 6/7

Class 6 and 7 just got back from an adventure in the snow fields around Smiggins and Perisher. Everyone had lessons each day and then spent the rest of the day on the lifts and slopes.


Smiggins 2015

Smiggins 2015

Thursday was a beautiful blizzard.

Snowing at Perisher

Snowing at Perisher


After a week at Perisher they then headed off to Canberra where they spent the day looking at the sights.

Australian National Art Gallery 2015

Australian National Art Gallery 2015

They headed off to the National Art Gallery of Australia and Parliament House.

Camp to Bungonia; more than just canyoning March 2015

At first you see trees, grasses, a kangaroo, nice views across the canyons ….your eyes adjusting to take in the beauty of nature. Then you clamber over boulders, slip into a cave, thread your way along a creek, sit amongst the trees ….. and that’s when you see the uniqueness of habitat in this place, the things that live here and nowhere else in Australia and the world! Your heart begins to take in the amazing community of beings that call this place home. Respect and gratitude rise up in you.

Canyoning skills

Canyoning skills

Then there is adventure. Going inside the mountain on a narrow descent into deep, dark cave, going over the mountain and abseiling down a 30metre cliff, climbing a sheer face feeling for handholds and footholds barely visible, exploring the watercourse of the canyon creek, working as a team – being responsible and responsive to each, sharing with peers the research you’ve done prior to the trip – transforming information into experience.

Abseiling - overcoming fear

Abseiling – overcoming fear

Alongside all of this, high school students were mentored in life skills by Kalindra and Ross, people who specialise in managing risk, finding courage, taking initiative, persevering, setting goals, living lightly, connecting love of what you do with what is good for the wider world….

Camp Bungonia was more than canyoning – high school students have added to their back packs, life skills, a sense of adventure and the importance of connecting to and realizing what makes your life purposeful.

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