As the ASC continues, the program grows, modifies and flows with the changes that come. A new relationship between the Australia Studies Centre and Booderee National Park has been growing since our first trip with students last semester.
This semester, we were able to spend more time and get a better feel of the country and the community that calls it home.
The students were welcomed into the Jervis Bay Territory (the coastal access of the Australian Capital Territory), which sits on the traditional land of the Yuin nation. Our guides through country were three members of the Wreck Bay Aboriginal community and members of the commonwealth agreement between the Aboriginal community and the Australian government.
The agreement allows the ancestral owners of the land a unique opportunity to be the stewards of the land in a way indigenous people are not able to do in Australia except for two other national parks, one of them being Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park in the Northern Territory.
The students heard stories from the Yuin tradition and had important elements of Aboriginal culture explained through ceremony.
Visiting at the end of winter also presented a memorable experience. The South Coast of New South Wales is an incredible place; kilometers of untouched beaches, rolling green hills, beautiful forests; all of it with minimal development.
“Why wouldn’t anyone want to live down here,” one student asked as we drove down the coast, sheltered inside the glass dome of the tour bus.
The minute we stepped out we understood why.
The South Coast is a windy place.
Though the trip took place amid biting cold southerly winds, it was a fantastic learning opportunity for all. From the ceremonious welcome to country and the invitation to dance, to the hike through pristine bush, discovery was around every corner. Students had the opportunity to walk through forests still in similar condition to when the Yuin were the only people inhabiting the area. They also learnt the importance of maintaining culture and knowledge for generations to come. There will be more opportunities for staff, current student and future students to travel to Booderee National Park and learn from an incredibly unique community of people.