Reconciliation Week

Cape York Immersion 2021

In the second week of the Term 1 school holidays, Year 11 student Nicholas Borg and our Project Officer Indigenous Students Mrs Daniela Harrington joined 15 students and two staff from CRC North Keilor on an immersion to Indigenous homelands and communities in Cape York, North Queensland.

Nicholas was asked to describe the journey and his experience. Here is his story.

Mrs Harrington and I, along with 15 other students and two teachers, spent ten days and eight nights experiencing the culture and people of Yalangi Country, which is made up of five tribes and multiple clans.

We began our trip with an early morning flight to Cairns and then boarded our four-wheel-drive bus and drove north to the Daintree River in the Daintree Rainforest. We took a river cruise where we saw local wildlife such as baby crocodiles, crabs, archer fish (which shot Mrs Harrington in the eye) and tree snakes.

We then boarded our bus and took a six-hour trip inland (due to flooding damage to the roads) and set up camp at Wujal Wujal – our first homeland.

We were Welcomed On Country and received a blessing at Wujal Wujal Falls, which is a sacred site. We the visited Black Mountain, also a sacred site, and heard stories about the spiritual history of these sites.

Here we swam in beautiful water holes, heard stories from the elders, worked on a community project building a BBQ shelter and preparing a vegetable patch. We cooked all our meals and even attended a local disco. We participated in men’s and women’s business - the men made spears and the women painted and learned about women’s ways.

We then travelled about four hours to our second homeland, Bana. Here we set up our campsite.

We were Welcomed On Country, attended language classes to learn some of the Kuki Yalanji language, and cooled off in some beautiful watering holes.

We learnt about the seasonal calendar and foraged for bush tucker such as green ants and plums. We visited more sacred sites, heard Dreamtime stories, participated in art workshops and help prepared a traditional ground feast.

We spent our time with community members. One of the funniest times was when we danced. The men danced the shake the leg, crocodile dance, kangaroo dance, the hawk and honey tree dance. The women also danced – it was like a shake your skirt dance, but we cannot remember the name. It was heaps of fun.

We finally packed up our camp and travelled inland for six hours and back to Port Douglas as there were heavy rains and the roads had become dangerous.

In Port Douglas we stayed in a camping ground with a pool and water park. Here we slept under the stars for two nights and enjoyed our last meal together.

On our second last day we went snorkelling in the Outer Great Barrier Reef.

We had such a wonderful time, learnt a lot, experienced so much and will be forever grateful to have spent time with the communities and the people and to have been able to learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, history and lives.

This trip was an eye-opening experience for me and the other students and teachers, particularly learning the language and traditions of these Indigenous communities. Each day I felt more connected to these communities, and being Indigenous myself, I felt a stronger connection with the land and want to learn more about my tribe.

Nicholas Borg - Year 11 student

This was a life changing experience for me. The capacity for forgiveness from people who have been so harmed was really impacting. Their open hearts and minds made this such a memorable experience. Nicholas was a true champion on this trip – Aboriginal people say that something is deadly when it is great, when it's good, when it's super, when it's powerful. Nicholas Borg was deadly on this trip. - Mrs Daniela Harrington, Project Officer Indigenous Students

Striving for success

As part of Reconciliation Week, Year 12 student Flynn Pettitt reflects on his goals while acknowledging the importance of his Aboriginal heritage.

My name is Flynn and I am currently studying Year 12 VCAL and am a proud KukuYalanji member.

KukuYalanji is my Aboriginal tribe based in Mosman Gorge, Far North Queensland. My Indigenous heritage comes from my grandparents on my mother’s side of the family.

I have always been a very sporty kid and have played football and basketball since I can remember. I moved to Catholic Regional College at the start of Term 3 last year as a VCE student and it was then that I found the Richmond Institute of Sport Leadership (RISL).

The Richmond Institute is the education arm of the Richmond Football Club and a leader in sports industry education.

 Since I have always wanted to be a sports teacher, I thought this would be a great opportunity for me!

I decided to change to VCAL Certificate III in Fitness as it seemed like a great first step into RISL and I have not looked back. During VCAL this year, I have had many opportunities to further develop my passion for sport and cement my plans to be a sports teacher.

I have applied myself and worked hard to achieve my goals. I even have some free time and have had the chance to teach and help out with some sport classes. This has given me an idea of what it is like to be a teacher and understand how to cater for different needs. As my grandparents always say: “If you put your mind to anything, you can dream, you can achieve”.

Flynn Pettitt, KukuYalanji

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