ADreamtime story with local significance has inspired a new outdoor learning space at Newbery Park Primary School.
The significant new school feature depicts the Craitbul story and was officially opened last week.
The indigenous garden project was an 18-month process and was officially launched to coincide with National Tree Planting Day on June 16.
Spearheaded by the school’s Aboriginal community education officer Donna Baker with garden guru and Eco-Learning student support worker Angela Jones, the project has been established on a once barren space.
An unused double tennis court at the school proved to be the ideal location for the extensive garden project.
Brainstorming the possibilities of the space started early last year with earthworks beginning over the Christmas holiday break.
This included removal of the old bitumen tennis courts and levelling of the surface in preparation for the earthworks.
The learning space design resembles the local ‘Craitbul’ Dreamtime story which was acted out during the opening ceremony.
Craitbul is based around the region’s landscape and talks about the creation of the volcanoes and eruptions that shaped the region.
Year 3 and 4 students’ interpretation of the story was acted out using the new site while Boandik elder Aunty Michelle Jacquelin-Furr narrated what she said was her favourite Dreamtime creation.
“Newbery Park should be very proud of this installation. It is just wonderful,” Aunty Michelle said.
“Boandik people are connected to land. They are connected to the flora, the fauna, the whole theme of this land.
“This is a really good sign of reconciliation and something the children will get a lot of benefit from.”
Aunty Michelle was also invited to open the ceremony with an Acknowledgment of Country recited in Boandik language.
The day-long festivities included a smoking ceremony which included the sounds of didgeridoo by Ngarrindjeri elder Uncle Doug Nicholls.
Those in attendance braved the wintry elements around a lit campfire, which provided comfort while students gathered around to sing ‘Raining on the Rock’ with local music identity Jason Baker playing acoustic guitar.
Cultural activities including learning about Indigenous artefacts, boomerang throwing, weaving, planting native grasses and shrubs, cooking and artwork filled the day.
Aunty Michelle, Uncle Doug and Ms Baker guided the activities along with Aboriginal community members Tiffany Clare and Jenny Bishop.
Principal Sam Currie acknowledged the effort put into the project.
“A project such as this takes an enormous amount of planning and Ang and Donna have led this from the beginning. They have done a tremendous job in this space,” he said.
“It’s not always easy to get a project up and running and off the ground. Their commitment to it and constant planning and redrawing has made this happen.
“Bowman Earthmovers were contracted to do the work for the school and they have gone above and beyond in their consultation with us and added touches to our space to make it more accessible for water.
“This is significant for the school.”
A sense of pride emanated from Ms Baker as she explained the title of the new garden space she influenced naming.
“Budinya Mraatu means ‘learning on country’,” Ms Baker said.
She said the Boandik Language Group, who has been reviving the Boandik language, was able to assist in the translation.
Students will also have a strong ongoing connection to the garden after planting various species of native plants.
QR codes signposted at purposely situated growing areas around the garden will provide information on the different plant species including its uses.
Meanwhile, Ms Jones said the project had been a great journey and one she thoroughly enjoyed being able to share with students.
“I love plants, everyone knows that. Finding out about plants and being able to bring that hobby into our school … it’s amazing to teach the children all about it,” she said.
She also described the new space as being able to “take an excursion into our own backyard”.
It is also intended the project will continue to evolve with a 75-metre mural already in the planning stage.