4 November, 2020
Kids trade-in ACT for Outback skies and vivid sunsets
THIS YEAR’S hard border closures and Covid-19 travel restrictions have likely brought intense feelings of grief, loss and disappointment to many Australians. This disappointment has been felt in schools, too, where children have missed sports events, excursions and of course the annual pilgrimage to our nation’s capital which commonly marks the end of primary schooling.
Not so for four Rockhampton Grammar School students, who were thrilled to arrive in Longreach earlier this month for the first time.
students, Tosi, Darcy, Layne and Patrick agreed that while they could not
travel like usual to Canberra to see Parliament House, the Australian War
Memorial and Australian Institute of Sport, they were excited to be in the Outback
for this year’s school camp.
“The bus trip from Rockhampton to Barcaldine felt really long,” they said. “But we spent a night in Barcaldine, and then we got to Longreach really quickly.
“We were even allowed to sing and eat lollies on the bus!”
The children said they were most excited to see the Luminescent Longreach night-time light and sound show at Qantas and Winton’s Age of Dinosaurs Museum.
“I’m also really looking forward to the Thomson River Cruise, and maybe seeing a crocodile,” Tosi said.
Rockhampton Grammar School Head of Primary, Geoff Hadwen, said a generous State Government subsidy had allowed the group to head West.
“Many teachers aren’t aware of the subsidy available to take their students to Outback Queensland and integrate its rich history and heritage into school learning,” Mr Hadwen said.
“We received funding at the rate of $110 per student for this excursion.
“The State border closure made our trip to Canberra impossible this year, but this subsidy was greater than that which we would have received for Canberra anyway,” Mr Hadwen said.
The subsidy forms part of the Outback Queensland Education Experience Program formed in 2011, which allows all Queensland schools to see the great history, ancient landscapes, colorful characters and quirky events of the outback for themselves. Financial assistance of up to $150 per person is available on trips as far as Flinders, Richmond, Cloncurry, Mount Isa, Barcaldine, Blackall-Tambo, Longreach, Winton, Boulia, Diamantina, Quilpie, Burke and Carpentaria.
Mr Hadwen said his students would visit Rubyvale and the Sapphire Gemfields, Qantas Founders, the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame and the Thomson River at Longreach, and the Age of Dinosaurs Museum and Waltzing Matilda Centre at Winton.
“The children have just loved coming to the bush, and we’ve loved supporting rural communities,” he said.
“For our Year Five and Six’ers studying Australian history, the towns of Barcaldine, Longreach and Winton have proven just as significant as Canberra. It definitely won’t be our last trip.”