22 Jul 2015
In the mid semester break a group of Year 11 Ruyton students and staff took the opportunity to visit Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory. Kakadu is a very special place, listed as World Heritage for its natural and cultural significance. The northern section of the park is wetland and teaming with colour, tourist action and iconic Northern Territory features, including crocodiles! The southern section of the park is a part of the Arnhem Land escarpment.
The main event of the trip was a seven-day bushwalk on the escarpment. A permit issued by the traditional owners gave us access to one of the most beautiful and remote sections of the Park, and, being on the escarpment, it was free of Saltwater crocs! The walk was all off-track, with no signposts, track markers or any established camping facilities. To ensure our adventure unfolded pleasantly there was a large amount of planning and preparation done by all in Term 2. Preparation included a practice walk, which incorporated an off-track section, gear information and our menu planning, including dehydrated dinners.
We enjoyed a few days in Darwin to relax after the busy semester, adjust to the lovely warm climate and finish final preparations before we headed out to start the walk. In a very short time we settled into the rhythm of the hike. Mornings involved an early start, but not too early for a cup of tea from the billy on the fire. Walking off-track involved greater physical and mental effort. Map, compass and land features dictated the mornings. The group walked efficiently and we reached our daily destinations by lunch, leaving the afternoons to be spent enjoying swimming holes, card games, songs, dancing and some tall stories. Over the seven day walk we saw no other people and were completely self-sufficient.
Aboriginal rock art also gave us a chance to ponder the significance of the original Australians and the timeless nature of the oldest living culture. To enjoy the afternoon shade of a rock wall and swimming hole, cooling in the same places that the traditional owners of the land had done for over 50,000 years added a realistic perspective to many discussions. The whole experience has given the girls a foundation of knowledge that will help as we all grapple with difficult and complex issues for all Australians.
I would like to congratulate every girl on the positive energy, co-operation and commitment that they brought to the experience. The greatest efforts usually involve the greatest rewards. This is definitely true of this unique trip.
Mr Darren Saunder
Director of Outdoor Education
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