By Amy Saad
On Monday, we spent part of the day bike riding around the school. Despite the pelting rain, we all had an amazing time. This was a great experience especially as not everyone in my group knew how to ride bikes. However, by the end of the day, they felt more familiar with the bike. This challenged everyone to step out of their comfort zones and experience something different. For the second half of the day, we participated in an adventure race where we completed a series of tasks varying from physical to general knowledge. We worked collaboratively in our groups to complete with the fastest time.
On Tuesday, we ventured to the Gibberagong track near Wahroonga and walked down to Bobbin Head. Along the walk, we learnt how to start a fire and find good kindle to maintain the fire. We also learnt about the conservation programs protecting the native flora and fauna including native frogs, birds and the Eastern grey kangaroo. We also learnt about the tools used by Aboriginal people living in Guringai country and how they were used to maintain the land.
On Wednesday, we had a cultural session at school as we learnt about Dharug culture and the practices of Aboriginal people used to maintain the country. We commenced by learning about some of the tools used by Aboriginal people and making our axes from sharpening rock, making twine and using native bee wax as glue. We also were taken through to the Loreto Bush and found some useful plants which were used for food, medication, hunting equipment and sanitary equipment. The most surprising experience from this is that there are so many useful native plants growing in the bush that I had no idea about. Later in the day, we talked to Aunty Jacinta Tobin who sung to us a song that she wrote and gave us a strong message about knowing the culture and the importance of maintaining practices carried out by Aboriginal people. We finished the day by learning how to twine paperbark and how this was very useful in coastal regions as it would have been used as a fishing line.
On Thursday, we were taken to Berowra waters and learnt how to canoe. Inara and I partnered up for this but had no clue how to canoe in the beginning. After multiple face fulls of leaves and traumatic experiences with spiders coming aboard, we finally got the hang of it and worked well together. A highlight of this was stepping outside of my comfort zone and learning something completely new. After the long day of canoeing, we were treated with a spectacular movie night in the comfort of VR 1.09 and pizza for dinner. We ended the day by watching Legally Blonde.
On Friday, we concluded this wonderful experience with the wise words of Julia Baird and Tanya Hosch, two amazingly successful women drawn by their connection to nature and Indigenous culture. Julia talked about finding awe in our lives as she left us with the words “If we don't focus on wonder we will divorce one of our sources of strength.” Tanya talked to us about her harsh childhood especially after being abandoned by her biological mother after she was embarrassed because of her Torres Strait Islander heritage. Throughout her schooling, she faced issues of racism and learnt to also hate her indigeneity. As she continued to learn and grasp her culture, she became an inspiration to many and a role model for many indigenous children. We concluded the day with a beautiful liturgy and commending the teachers for their hard work in making the experience possible.