Today is the last day of the trip. We’re about an hour away from getting on the plane and heading back to Sydney. It’s strange being back at the place we started this trip and being back so soon. We explored Darwin today, first grabbing breakfast in the markets, visiting the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northen Territory and shopping in the Darwin plaza. We said goodbye to Tahli, Maggie and Joe, expressing our gratitude for the knowledge and guidance they bestowed upon us throughout the week. All the boys believe without Tahli and Maggie, the trip would not have been as enjoyable as it has.
For everyone, this trip has been a life changing experience. It allowed us to see how different life can be in a different environment. It was extremely rewarding to see how our efforts helped Graham and his family, as well as camping almost every night, which is something most people haven’t done. Our spiritual connection deepened greatly on this trip as we stripped back the pleasures of a modern life and worked hard every day. The relationships between us grew even stronger than they already were as well. I think every boy who came on this trip is so glad that they did, and it’s something that we will never forget.
After one of the most exhausting yet rewarding days of the trip, we all thought that we were entitled to a nice sleep in, especially considering it was the last night in Kakadu. However, as the rays of the morning sun penetrated our tents at 6, little did we know of the gruelling nature of the next few hours.
A quick breakfast of bacon and eggs, bossman Joe rounded us up to collapse and pack our tents. An usually routine activity in Sydney turned into a gruelling 90 minute workout, with the unrelenting Kakadu sun beaming down on the boys. However, our great camaraderie and sense of teamwork pulled us through, with a valiant effort commended and praised by the bossman.
However, our day was just starting, as we all boarded the iconic camp bus to fulfill our activities for the day. The first stop was Ubirr, a site world-renowned for its beautiful Indigenous rock art. We explored the many different periods of rock art, with turtles dating back 20000 years to art of European settlers smoking pipes.
Following a quick lunch at Ubirr, we embarked on the monster 3 and a half journey back to Darwin. Tired from the gruelling day so far, we all checked out for the journey, falling asleep in the comforts of the truck.
With the first bars of reception in almost 3 days, we turned on the AFL Grand Final… before quickly turning it off after watching the Sydney Swans go down 35 after the first.
Three hours later we arrived at Berry Springs, a picturesque water hole where most of the boys took advantage of the refreshing water. We decided to get fish and chips at the pub next door, where we also found some great friends in emus, goats and an extremely cute deer.
Finally, we reached Darwin at 645. As the NRL Prelimary final was in 20 minutes, we rushed to Woolies to grab some snacks then hunkered down in our hotels to catch the Penrith dominance over the Rabbits. Too tired to stay up, we retired to our beds and fell asleep.
Waking up from our final night at Kakadu National we were very excited for our trip down to the waterhole at Djimdjim Falls.
Following breakfast we jumped in the bus and enjoyed the two hour drive in the cool air conditioning. However, a lot of us were not prepared for the rest of the dirt road which was filled with rocks. The bus wobbled every which way; it was very unnerving and different.
However, this was not the hardest part of the trip. Out of the bus we had a one kilometre trek – “Not too bad,” we thought. We were so wrong! This one kilometre trek was full of every sort of rock, root and twist imaginable. The second half of the trek consisted of many different rock hops which were not straight, the rocks were mostly slanted. We sweated profusely.
Although the trek was difficult, it gave the boys the opportunity to work together and it showed the brotherhood between us as we never left a man behind. This was evident when we all came together and had each other’s back throughout the day.
When we finally got to the waterhole, the view was absolutely beautiful and the water was fresh and cool. A few of us swam to the other side of the waterhole which was about one hundred metres in diameter to jump off a couple rocks with Blake. This gave us the opportunity to connect with each other and Blake. The air was filled with splashes, chatter and above all, laughter. On the other side, Mrs Tsirkas and the rest of the boys were having a great yarn in the shade, at the rocks. Daniel Fortini got his foot bitten by a little fish twice and the laughter could be heard from the other side of the waterhole.
Overall, we all had a great day and it was a great example of our compassion, brotherhood and resolve as a group.
Our day begun early today, where after breakfast we had to leave around 7:30 to see cave art painted by the Aboriginal People thousands of years ago. So, after our short bus trip we went on a 25 minute walk to the cave art. It was amazing to see the many different styles of art that Aboriginal People have painted upon the rocks throughout the past thousands of years, where the older art was different to the newer.
The art displayed many things, all significant to The Aboriginal People, including hand prints, animals and even figure which they worshiped during the past. After that, we walked back to the van and went on another drive to different place where rock art was. Once again, we were able to see the many different types of art styles and the topics which they discuss present within the Aboriginal culture of the area. This art was placed very high up in amazing mountains, where despite the constant heat, we were given a chance to cool off due to the shade.
After viewing the rock arts we went to Waradjan country center and looked at all types of artefacts and stories, learning the history of some of the people of the areas and the cultural teachings that have been passed around by the respected members of the clans. Later we all bought items made by the people in the area with portions of it going straight back to the community. Tahli later picked us up and took us back to the Cooinda pool were some of us went and had a swim whilst others gathered around and chatted. We were taken back to the campsite where Marlon, Jacob and I (Adam) went for a walk to look for some fauna in the billabong. We saw a couple of tracks and birds and yet not a single croc in sight. Tahli and Maggie made some stir fry and after all eating we chatted which then led to is all taking a stroll to look for animals all together, where we saw some birds nesting in a tree with nothing else being seen. Together we were amazed by the stars in the night sky and sat around the fire chatting throughout the night.
Matthew & Adam
This is the last day here at Pudakul. It’s a bittersweet moment because whilst we’re excited for a new campsite at Kakudu national park, we’re going to miss Graham and his family. I think everyone agrees they were absolute burooks (champions).
We started the day packing down the tents, then we did some paintings and finished our time at Pudakul by practicing throwing spears the traditional way; with woomeras. Two of the boys gave the world expedition manager a tour of the work we’ve done, mostly preparing new campgrounds and fixing up various areas of Graham’s land. We got a farewell from Lynette and her daughter Dianne, who bowed us goodbye and wished us safe travels.
After that, we loaded into the truck and headed to Kakadu. We got the chance to go on a beautiful safari cruise over the alligator rivers, where the boys saw crocs, birds, some nests and other various animals. The sunset over the river was definitely a highlight on the trip. Once we got back to camp, Maggie and Tali served us a great barbeque dinner. A few of the boys ended up sleeping outside the tents, who got to sleep under a clear sky of stars.
Marlon & Jacob
Unlike the previous night, we all had a good sleep and felt refreshed in the morning. We didn’t have much time before breakfast which was very plentiful.
After packing up the tools we all headed in the bus to the wetland reserve. The drive was extremely comfortable due to the air conditioning, however, when we got to the site we were extremely disheveled by the heat.
Our second day of community service included shovelling out large weeds which took a lot of blood, sweat and tears. Thank God Mrs Tsirkas gave us a good few breaks.
After a hard afternoon, we came back to camp where we went for a swim in Graham and Lynnete’s pool and relaxed near the billabong.
During the course of the late afternoon and evening, Graham cooked up a nice meal which consisted of magpie goose. All us boys loved it and was energized for the evening at Fogg dam.
At around 6:30pm we all hopped onto the bus and headed towards Fogg Dam. Once we got there, we began our short trek to find as many wildlife animals as possible after sunset. We managed to find at least 8 crocodiles, 2 Cain Toads, a Water Python and a Scorpion.
After that we hopped back on the bus and headed back to camp, ready to go to bed and ready for a new day full of more activities.
Georgio, Alex & Nicholas
We started the day with a relaxing early morning swim in the pool to cool off from a warm night. Soon after we headed to the meeting area for some breakfast and enjoyed cereal and bananas. Cocopops were the favourite. After breakfast we headed out for a walk with Graham to make clapsticks. We used saws and machetes to cut down portions of Iron Wood trees, and hit them together to take the bark off. When we returned to camp, we were excited to see a crocodile up close being picked up by rangers that was caught only a few days ago. Luckily for us we didn’t run into the crocodile in the billabong.
After taking these back to camp we jumped in the pool to cool off and then had some morning tea to keep us energized. We the burnt the clapsticks to make them harder and less sticky, and painted our own personalised designs onto them. After we had personalised our clapsticks we were treated to some lunch which was some nice wraps with an assortment of fillings.
After lunch we could continue painting our clapsticks or we could swim again, treated to three swim sessions in one day. We all gathered back round and got to work helping the community by shovelling gravel and transporting it and laying it down on the start of the walking track to make the transition a bit smoother. We cooled off under the sun and waited for it to cool down as the day was getting really warm before heading out again and working on another campsite. We pulled weeds and cut down some trees for firewood as a group before heading back to the site for showers. Georgio, Nick and Alex helped the group by cooking off some meat for us on the barbeque and we enjoyed a nice dinner together.
We kicked back for a bit telling stories and then Timmi lit the campfire and we gathered round telling stories and Graham joined us, giving insight into his own personal stories which struck deep within the group. We all got a turn at the Didgeridoo where we all failed and Graham showed us how it was done. We said goodnight around the campfire and headed to bed ready for the next day.
Michael A and Michael P
Today started with an abrupt wakeup with a our flight leaving at 11:30 in the morning. After escaping the parents and their desires to take thousands of photos, we checked into the airport and grabbed some breakfast. Boarding the flight, we found our seats and off we went! The journey was better for some, with the tall kids struggling to fit in the tiny confines of the seat.
Arriving in Darwin, we instantly felt the heat as we waited for our bus for around an hour. A short bus trip later and we arrived in Pudakul. We were greeted with a welcome to country and a quick rundown of the program.
After a glimpse of luxury with spaghetti bolognese for dinner, we pitched our tents and began to wind down for the night. We were all exhausted from a long day so we all slept straight away.
Anthony and Daniel
Kakadu Immersion – Pre-departure Reflection
Leading up to Kakadu, I have been focusing on prelims rather than preparing to go. I still need to get a few supplies till I think I’ll be comfortable to leave such as a new water bottle that can carry all the massive amounts of water I’ll need while we’re there. I am very excited to be able to authentically immerse myself into the Aboriginal culture of that area, as I don’t know much about them or their history. I hope by coming on this trip, I will come back with a newfound understanding and appreciation of the culture. However, I am a bit worried about the weather. It seems like it will be 40 degrees while we’re there and I don’t want to get burnt. I really hope the weather cools down during the night. Either way, I am very excited to go to Kakadu!
Even though the trip begins this Sunday, I haven’t realised how close it really is because of prelims. To be honest, I haven’t even finished packing up amongst the stress of our finals. Whilst I am feeling nervous, I’m also excited at this great opportunity and I’m glad I can experience it with friends. This is definitely going to be an unforgettable experience and I’m happy the school has chosen me to go. I think this immersion will be a great send off for the end of yr 11 and will be something we carry with us throughout the rest of our life.
With the trip fast approaching and the realisation of what we are truly going to be doing as a group sets in, the nervousness of flying without family and the introduction into a new space gives way to excitement. The prelim exam block hasn’t helped me focus on what is fast approaching but with it clearing up trip preparations are increasing and the excitement is bubbling. I can’t wait to experience something completely different and step outside of my very small comfort zone.
I am really excited to experience the cultural learning journey we are about to embark on, especially after hearing how deeply it resonated with Mr. Valencic and Mr. Griffith on their personal immersion experiences. The cultural knowledge we will be able to gain through this trip is inspiring and definitely something I’m looking forward to. It will be great to be able to get away with a group of friends for a week while simultaneously gaining cultural knowledge and experiences we can continually share into the future.
In three days I will be going to Kakadu National Park on the cultural immersion – I’m feeling excited and can’t wait to be out in the bush with my mates. I’m most excited about the camping aspect as this will be my first ‘proper’ camping trip out of NSW. I’m ready to immerse myself in the local Indigenous community to learn more about Aboriginal culture.
Three more days until I fly out! I’m starting to get nervous as this is my first flight by myself without my family. I have majority of my equipment ready to go for Sunday. It’s been hard to think about Kakadu during my Prelim exam block as I have been concentrating on my studies and exams. After my final exam I think I will become more excited as I have nothing else on my mind other than looking forward to flying out. Going to Kakadu will allow me to open my mind to new surroundings as well as build a stronger friendship with my peers that I am going with to Darwin.
This Kakadu immersion is something I really look forward to, however, it has been a bit hectic in the lead-up weeks to the immersion. Exams, moving houses and of course gearing up, in general, have made the leading fortnight quite jam-packed and although it has been a little bit stressful it hasn’t affected the excitement at all. As someone who tries his best to be immersed in his own culture, I hope to develop a deeper understanding of the different customs and traditions of the Aboriginal peoples in the Kakadu region. Of course, spending time there with some good mates is an extra bonus that I’m looking forward to and I am sure we’ll all have a great trip!
Only a few more days before we embark on our trip to Kakadu! This trip couldn’t have come at a better time; after all the hard-work and effort of the prelims I think we all deserve a well-earnt trip away. I’m looking forward to travelling to Kakadu and immersing myself with such a unique and different community. As a man with Lebanese heritage, it’ll be extremely valuable and interesting to see the different customs and experiences of the First Nation peoples of Northern Territory. As well as that, I am very much looking forward to spending a week with my friends away from Sydney, deepening the connections and relationships between us all.
The trip is only days away now and the excitement is building. The process of putting aside what to pack and ticking it off my list is underway. According to the weather forecast for Darwin and Kakadu on the weather app, it will be very hot and humid across the week of our trip. I am looking forward to gaining a greater awareness of the customs and lives of local communities and experiencing the sights of Kakadu. It will be a big change from constant study for our preliminary exams!