Aboriginal Education on Camp

March 1, 2022

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Australia’s Aboriginal culture is amazingly more ancient than the Stonehenge, and far older than the time of the building of the Egyptian Pyramids, and the Acropolis in Greece. But still more amazing is that the people who steadfastly keep and nurture the culture still share their identity’s learnings and knowledge up to today. We know these people as Australia’s First Peoples.

The school camps SA experience is one of the best ways to observe the Aboriginal way of life. One of the benefits to this is, of course, discovering how the indigenous culture has worked with the land’s fauna and flora to sustainably flourish over the centuries. Listeners will also get to understand and better respect the richness of the unique indigenous life.

The government is actually collaborating with some co-management boards and indigenous partners and suppliers to create more public awareness of how Aboriginal cultural protocols have managed access to the Country (the Aboriginal cultural sites and parks considered to be traditional grounds) over so many generations. Many of the areas in the Country may not have site specific protocols, so a good guideline here is to refrain from touching, altering or removing anything in the site. You will also need to take all waste material with you when you leave.

If you are planning to visit an Aboriginal site with your group, keep in mind you have a part to play to help preserve this ancient culture. Here are some tips to help you:

- Australia may seem to be a young nation, as it was colonised by the British by as late as 1788. But the fact is when explorers from the outside arrived, Australia already had 350 distinct social groupings. Many of their traditional grounds not only have historic or cultural meaning, but have great spiritual value too. So an indigenous community may suddenly decide to restrict the entry of visitors to such cultural sites, even if these are very famous or too immense to fence in. Visitors would just need to respect these boundaries.

- There will be plants and animals to see in these cultural sites, some of them unique and interesting. Please refrain from taking them out of their natural habitat. The longevity of the culture is indeed related to its preservation of nature and resources, such as in the case of sustainable fire stick farming.

- Aboriginal guides will share knowledge accumulated over hundreds of years, so this is not like listening the usual survival training. Some of the material is even unique to Australia (such as a tracking course for example) and found nowhere else in the world. So do not pass up the opportunity to learn as much as you can! More examples of activities could be: artefact making in wood and stone, traditional fibre-craft, Aboriginal astronomy, bush walks with food and medicine gathering discussions.

So whenever you go to appreciate the outdoors, take time to appreciate the land’s aboriginal history and traditions. The school camp in the flinders ranges is one of the camps that Beyond the Classroom offers. This area in particular is very rich in history as it has dreaming stories (part of the indigenous people’s beliefs) that tell of the adventures of the culture’s powerful ancestral beings.

One are to look out for is Arkaroo Rock, which could be considered one of the world’s most ancient art site, with stunning ochre and charcoal impressions and sketches portraying how Wilpena Pound was created. The cave site itself is around 5,000 years old, and a good time to glimpse the rock paintings would be in the dramatic morning light.

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