Engagement through cultural excursion

Students from Busselton Senior High School had a learning experience in nature's classroom when they visited Carbanup Reserve. Image Sophie Elliott.
Students from Busselton Senior High School had a learning experience in nature's classroom when they visited Carbanup Reserve. Image Sophie Elliott.

Aboriginal students from Busselton Senior High School took part in a cultural and scientific excursion to Carbanup on March 1.

The excursion was part of Waalitj Kartajin, an engagement program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, which was established by the school’s Aboriginal and Islander Education officer Gwen Gray this year.

Head of Year 9 and 10 teacher Geoff Holt praised Ms Gray for making the learning and cultural experience possible.

“Everybody talks about the importance of Aboriginal youth connecting with country, of learning history and culture,” he said.

“It is a central theme of the national curriculum but it is rare for students to gain such inspirational insight from custodians as they did today. “

Students were invited to Carbanup Reserve by the City of Busselton environmental management officer Kay Lehman, Friends of Carbanup Reserve and Undalup Association’s Wayne Webb. 

The excursion involved students observing a fauna survey conducted by zoologist Greg Harwood.

Mr Harwood set traps to catch local fauna overnight and students were shown some of the creatures caught, including a variety of skinks and lizards.

The survey was being conducted to measure the number of native animals in the reserve and establish the threats they face from introduced species such as foxes, cats and rabbits.

After viewing the traps, student were taken on a cultural walking tour of the bush by Wadandi custodians Wayne and Zac Webb.

The pair taught students about foods and medicines which could be sourced from the reserve.

They also shared many aspects of Noongar culture and showed the students how to mimic the sound of the baby magpie to communicate with fellow hunters and avoid suspicion by calling out.

Year 10 student leader Dennis Colbung thanked everyone involved in the excursion for taking the time to help connect Aboriginal students with country.

“We really thank our principal, Mr Couzic, and Gwen for this opportunity and look forward to learning more about our country,” he said.