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Year 8 Outback Safari Adventure 2016

​Students on their Outback Safari Adventure 2016
It was a brisk cool Sunday morning as 49 Year 8 students from Gladstone State High School stood standing outside the school waiting for the coach to arrive. A few nervous faces, from students and parents, but there as a glimmer of excitement in everyone’s eyes. It was the morning they had been waiting for, the start of the Year 8 Outback Safari Camp. The camp which was organised by the Humanities department ran from the 29 May till 3 June 2016. The purpose of this experience was to evaluate the location of a theoretical placement of an eco-resort within the Carnarvon Gorge National Park in Central Queensland.
Over the first three days students  camped at the Takarakka Bush Resort & Caravan Park within the Carnarvon Gorge National Park. Students took part in various activities which included; bush walking, night bush walking, preparing and organising meal times, leadership skills and working effectively as a team. The bush walking which consisted of over 22 kilometres for one group allowed students to explore the Boolimba Bluff, the Moss Garden, Ward’s Canyon and the Art Gallery. All of these sites are natural wonders within the gorge and all displayed breath-taking experiences. I personally watched the students become speechless, it was a stunning sight! Students once in the gorge focused on the development of their geographical skills which allowed them to evaluate the location of the two proposed sites for an eco-resorts. By doing so we focused on pH levels of water and soil, developed field-sketches, analysed fauna and flora observations, created quadrats work, worked on their photography skills, developed knowledge around turbidity testing and finally used this information to evaluate and justify their decision as to which site should be chosen for their eco-resort. Alongside this, there was of course countless types of wildlife walking around camp, students got to experience first-hand the kangaroos, swamp wallabies, kookaburra’s, a baby sugar-guilder and platypus that all live within the park boundaries. The encouragement that I heard with this group is unforgettable, whether it was supporting each other with setting up the tents, providing assistance on the hiking trails, giving encouragement when climbing up over 200 meters of straight cliff faces – they were all highly supportive and really showed the State High difference! On the last night, students got the chance for a late night walk up to a local lookout, and the ability to see the entire Milky Way with no light pollution at all. Truly an amazing experience.
On our third day we made our way out to Longreach via Barcaldine. However to our surprise, it had rained so much over night the roads were flooded. We had an emergency over-night stay in Barcaldine which involved dorms, an exceptionally yummy BBQ and a chance to promote those leadership and team building activities. Students learnt a bit of history from the Tree of Knowledge and its significance to Queensland. The following morning, with some good luck and positive karma – the roads were opened and we made our way to Longreach. A truly adventurous time we had in Barcaldine.
At Longreach, we all experienced the Qantas Founders Museum and for a few of us it was the first time we had been on an airplane. With our guide Tom, we explored an old 747 Qantas aircraft from top to bottom, inside and out and side to side. This was followed by the museum, which housed a large range of artefacts and interactive displays. I do admit, students did enjoy the interactive flying simulator the most. Students had the chance to experience what it was like in the outback before Qantas arrived, with a stage coach ride throughout the town. Over 12 students and a driver all packed into a small stage coach, pulled by six horses and which thundered through the streets of Longreach. Students made links and observations between Gladstone and Longreach, with some similarities and differences being presented. In the evening we visited the Stockman’s Hall of Fame and were treated to a dinner and a show explaining the life of a stockman. Our students got involved by running around with the animals on stage, participating within the act and lastly able to get up close and personal with some lovely animals for a photoshoot at the end of the show.
Winton was our last stop, and what outback experience isn’t compete without a trip to the Australian Age of Dinosaurs museum. Students got to touch real dinosaur bones, experience what it was like to be in the time of the dinosaurs and lastly, the fact we almost got stuck on this mountain in the rain with the bus brought some added excitement.
Students went away from State High not knowing each other and came back the best of friends. They developed their leadership skills, built on their social and encouragement skills, pushed their own personal boundaries, experienced what it felt like to walk over 20 kilometres in a day and lastly, have the ability to develop their geographical inquiry skills which will highly benefit them in their future schooling.
-          Mr. Rick Harting
Below are some comments from the students and parents regarding the experience:
I enjoyed the trip.  Loved every minute of it and what we did and saw. I thought the best thing about the trip was the Age of Dinosaur Museum, but in saying that I loved everything about the trip! “–Jake M. (Student)
“Thank you to all for a wonderful camp! Kelsey has not stopped talking about camp since her return. She had a wonderful time and got so much out of it. It was a wonderful week by the sounds of it and well organised.” –Julie (Parent) 
“Firstly we would like to thank you for your time and effort in putting together a camping trip that Koen enjoyed very much. He had a really good time and enjoyed every bit of it. Thank you for giving the kids an opportunity to experience something different and exciting. “--William (Parent)
“I loved how we could be outside in the Outback with our friends. It was a scary yet exciting experience and I wish we could go back!” – Kelsey (Student)
“I really enjoyed the camp, there was plenty of amazing good. We had the chance to stay in cabins as well as tents, the experience overall was amazing and I really enjoyed the bunch of students that were on the camp” -Logan (Student)
“I loved all the sites within the Carnarvon Gorge and I really loved the whole experience. It was something that was awesome!” – Koen (Student)
Samaya hasn't stopped raving about everything they did so obviously she has enjoyed all the opportunities given and made some new friendships.” Sue (Parent)