Our Year 9s have recently returned from an epic three-week journey around the Northern Territory. The first four days were spent travelling on the bus, stopping only to eat and sleep. It was a character building time, often arriving at in the dark, setting up camp, cooking for 55 people, eating, washing up, sleeping, waking before dawn, packing up and leaving. The first night we stayed at a free camp site where we set up camp in the dark not realizing that it was a day picnic area. At 1am the sprinklers went off soaking all the tents. There was much moving of tents and ducking and weaving the fountains of water - luckily most of us saw the funny side.
Our first actual destination was Bitter Springs at Mataranka (pictured above). We stayed for two days in a beautiful camp spot a short walk away from most wonderful hot springs. A crystal clear stream that carried you down stream to a bridge, where you got out and walked back to either do it again or soak in it’s nutrient rich warm waters. The students loved it!
A couple of days later we headed off to Litchfield National Park where we spent two days. During this time we swam at Buley Rock Waterhole and had a talk from the rangers about crocodiles and termite mounds. Later in the day, we walked to Florence Falls where we also swam, getting the students to buddy up for safety in the large swimming hole.
We then headed up to Darwin, stopping at Berry Springs, yet another beautiful swimming hole. In Darwin, we went to the War Museum and the Museum and Art Gallery of Northern Territory, where we had a excellent talk from the curator and saw the stunning Yidaki exhibition.
The following day, we all enjoyed the Big Buoy Water Park, before heading to the Trailer Boat Club for a great dinner overlooking the beach sunset.
Our next destination was Kakadu. In Ubirr we took in the magnificent rock art sites as well as the incredible view from the escarpment over Kakadu wetlands. One of the highlights of the camp was the Wetlands tour where we saw huge crocodiles and many varieties of birds. The students participated in workshops with a local indigenous family. The boys made didgeridoos and clap sticks under the guidance of Travis, while the girls learnt how to make bangles with Mandy, beginning with harvesting pandanus palm leaves to make thread and learning how to dye the thread using natural dyes. Later we enjoyed some excellent damper that they had brought and shared our lunch with them.
After Kakadu, we headed to Katherine Gorge and the Nitmuluk National park. We swam at Edith Falls, stopped at Katherine Thermal pools, and went to the Cutta Cutta Caves (meaning place of many stars). We took a ferry through the gorge and some of the students did a challenging walk back to camp.
The camp was amazing and such a journey of growth for the students and staff alike. One we will remember for the rest of our lives with gratitude and wonder.
April and Tony
Year 9 Guardians