A Year 8 student is abseiling up a cliff. She is wearing a bright blue helmet and looking at the camera, smiling.

Our Year 8 Gariwerd adventure

Students have been rock climbing, abseiling, canoeing and more on their five-day camp in Gariwerd/the Grampians. Students reflect on various activities below:

As the clock struck 7:30am, the many sleep deprived Year 8 students embarked on what was to be a four hour bus trip to Halls Gap. After around two and a half hours of travelling, we arrived at our first destination,“Bunjil’s Rock Shelter”. Damien Green took us through a brief history lesson of the importance of being on this beautiful and sacred land. We then as a group made our way up a steep incline to visit the only known Victorian cave painting of the Bunjil image. As we made our way down the path, we were greeted by Aunty Anne Nikkelson who performed a “Welcome to Country Ceremony” before wishing us well for the last stage of our journey to Halls Gap/Gariwerd. As we drove into the Tandara Campsite we were greeted by the local fauna of Kangaroos, Emus and Echidnas. We quickly unpacked the bus and waited anxiously to be told our cabins. We quickly moved into what is going to be our homes for the next five days and prepared for our first team building activity.

By Samuel, Year 8

We started walking along the river and up to the cliff-wall until we got to the nominated space where we were climbing and abseiling down. There was a spiraling path to the abseiling spot and we lined up. The view was very nice, you could see the mountains and the trees. We selected who would go first by their lack of fear. We attached our harnesses via figure 8 loops to the rope and slowly walked backwards. I made it out onto the first precipice, which was a good first attempt, but had to go back and sit down and wait until my nerves passed. The scariest part was crossing over the ledge and becoming horizontal but after that it becomes very simple. When I made it down to the bottom I climbed the rock face which was great fun! I managed to do all four levels of difficulty climbing (there four separate ropes) which I am very proud of. 

Ben, Year 8

We arrived at Lake Fyans and were immediately greeted by our two guides who taught us how to paddle canoes. The trick was for both people to paddle on different sides to keep the canoe balanced and to have a good centre of gravity, otherwise we would fall in. After a paddle around the lake Damien said there was to be a race around the instructor, Yaniv. We had to start with our canoes on the shore, paddle around Yaniv and then come back and place our canoe back on shore. Vallie and Maya were in front at the turn and were winning for most of the race, but unfortunately just as they were heading towards the shore, their canoe capsized. Ethan and Levi ended up winning the race and celebrated the victory with a swim in the lake. The weather was nice and it was great to spend the day on the water. 

Levi and Ethan – Canoe Race winners (just) 

We start each cooking session the same way, by creating a playlist of our favourite songs and singing to it while we prepare three dishes that will be enjoyed by all students and staff on camp. To begin, we started by prepping the veggies for the salad, while Isaiah, Ruby, Cara and Leo prepared the pizzas that was going to be eaten at lunch. Next we started on the “milk free” lasagne which was going to be the main course at our dinner. Finally we started working on our Apple Crumble dessert. Just when we thought we were finished, Oded our onsite chef, produced Coconut Macaroons (just like at Pesach) and hedgehog slices as a treat for all our hard work, which was enjoyed by all.

Cara & Ruby, Year 8  

With all our meals ready and prepared for the next day, we moved our attention to making damper on an open fire. We each received 1 ⅓ cups of flour, 1 ⅓ cup of milk and a teaspoon of salt. We sifted the flour into mixing bowls and began to knead the dough while singing songs as a whole group. We then made different shapes with the dough and made our way to the fire pit where we learned the story of Gariwerd, Bunjil and Waang a Giant Emu who made the land and its features during the Dreaming Creation Time. We learned how to start a fire without using matches and we cooked our dough creations on the fire and waited for them to bake. Ethan S made the best one but we each tried everyone’s with butter and it was delicious. 

Maddison, Year 8

We agreed the night before to get up at 5:30am and get fit for footy. Damien agreed to come with us for a hike around the campsite before we all agreed to play half-field footy with possession. It was really peaceful and the air was beautiful to breathe in. Firstly we had an argument about who was going on each team and there were allegations of an unfair team split. Zac’s team included: Ethan Sm, Levi W, Leo S, Isaiah W and Sam K. Toby’s team included Toby O, Jacob L, Noah P, Ethan W, Dov A and myself. Sam B elected to be Umpire and there were some ‘sour grapes’ over his mostly fair decisions (it’s a tough gig umpiring your mates!). First we stretched and did some warm ups with Levi, Noah and Damien. Then we did some training drills and running and then played a half-field match. The contest over the ball was rigorous but I outran most of my opponents, covered the most ground and I kicked three goals. Damien awarded me Most Valued Player and everybody cheered when he did (without any gribbles!). It was just so good to get up early and play footy before the dawn. After the game we watched the sunrise, put some lollies and chips into the Coopah (group contribution) and had a feast while the sun rose. 

Hugo, Year 8