Kate and Clint Miller have just returned from four days journeying through outback Australia. The purpose of this visit was to establish a program for a Tasmanian school, which will connect them with a community in outback NSW and provide an insight into local Aboriginal culture, history, traditions and life in rural Australia. All up, we crossed over 1000 kilometres in just two and a half days- the bulk on red dirt roads.
We were extremely fortunate to travel with Robert Biggs, and local Aboriginal man, Ricky Mitchell. Robert runs the Mungo Youth Project and Ricky is a Community Projects Coordinator for the World Heritage listed Mungo National Park.
Arriving to hot, dry weather in Mildura, we headed straight out to Mungo to learn about the ancient Aboriginal history of the region. This also provided a great opportunity to consider student accommodation- in a selection of converted shearers’ quarters.
The next morning we were up early to explore significant indigenous sites at Mungo, before heading to Menindee. We arrived in time to attend the local school assembly welcoming the Governor of NSW, before settling into accommodation in a renovated train carriage.
We were lucky to be invited to join an evening of celebration at Menindee also attended by the Governor, and the production of ‘Weeping Cloud’. ‘Weeping Cloud’ tells the story of a local Menindee elder who was part of the Stolen Generation. It was beautifully performed by students and staff of Menindee Central, who were joined by members of the local community in the choir.
The next morning we were involved in a video-link up with DEEWR, as part of a PD for schools on the new Connected Communities strategy. Then it was off to Mutawintji National Park, via Wilcania. Mutawintji is an incredibly beautiful part of Australia, with rocky gorges and many sites of great historical and cultural significance. We can’t wait to return here for a multi-day expedition with students in September.
The final leg of the long journey saw us head back to Mildura via Broken Hill, encountering a huge number of kangaroos, emus, fantastic birdlife, an echidna, a tiger snake… and a flat tyre.
The region is home to some incredibly friendly people, important Australian industry, significant and rich indigenous history and diverse country-side. We are excited by the opportunities the region presents for young people to learn and develop as part of a unique, educational journey.
This reconnaissance would not have been possible without the generous time and sharing of wisdom of Robert Biggs and Ricky Mitchell, as well as the support of the NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area) and Menindee community. A huge thank-you to all involved- we are looking forward to an exciting year ahead.
To see some photos of the journey, please click here.
In the meantime, be sure to check out the Mungo Youth Festival, in which both Rob and Ricky play a big role: http://www.mungoyouthproject.com.au. This is also taking place next September 2013, and will see over 200 young people, teachers, elders, discovery rangers, scientists and educators come together for three days of sharing, learning and exploring at Mungo National Park.