Martyn Smith, writing about Wesley College

Related links
Mallana  - Year Six Paradise
Chum Creek's Fortieth
(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 land. 

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 Hills.

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.

Related links
Mallana  - Year Six Paradise
Chum Creek's Fortieth
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