(March, 1998, for the 'Glen
Waverley Campus Newsletter')
Theyíre wise those teachers at Portland,
Ross and Kate!
Itís mid-February in southern Australia
and weíre camped in a bushy patch beside the Bridgewater Lakes, nestled
gloriously between farmland and the Southern Ocean coast. Itís hottish.
Rossís group has broken the last camp of its three-day hike early, in the
cool of the morning, and arrived back ahead of time whilst Kateís group
is just about to move out on its hike. The students are glad to see
each other during this brief and unexpected encounter.
Gently, it is decided to let 9O spend
time together at the lake. No bells here!
Then ensues three superbly warm afternoon
hours of adolescent joy in the water and on the shore. Here was imprinted
on the lives of all these youngsters an indelible identification with their
Browning hilly paddocks with twisty
fences, dozy cows and ageing sheds. Blue sky, shining sun, dusty
road. Reedy freshwater lake banked with cool green short grass alongside
splashy shallows gradually deepening. Friends, time and space!
Australian kids in February!
And what of the powerfully contrasting
imprints of the subterranean squeezing and squirming through the confined
blackness of the Bats Ridge Caves and the limitless frolicking on huge,
smoothly white, seemingly unending sand dunes, dolloped together between
pasture and ocean.
Ignored by crickets on cave walls,
raced by emus on the sand, young Australians!
Thanks, Hayne Meredith, you direct
our education in the outdoors. Here, at Portland, the students come
to know their land. More, they come to understand it better and even
gain some wisdom.
A decade or so ago, a similar vision
existed as Glen Waverley students traversed places like the Flinders Ranges,
the Simpson Desert and Sturtís Stony Desert in four-wheel drives under
the passionate leadership of a highly respected teacher of the time, Simon
Once more, at Portland, I saw the
conscious evocation of love, care and sustenance of the land that was the
driving force of those previous adventures. We are walking together
again with that notion.
And, rejoicing in the land, I wonder
how to recapture that crucial joy for those who loved it first.