Category: Camps and excursions

Lizard Area at Hawkesdale Common

Lizard area#1

On Friday, students from 6/7R walked to the Hawkesdale Common to meet Bruce Mirtschin, member of HADDAC and the Hopkins Moyne Landcare Network. The aim was to create a habitat area suitable for small lizards, using rocks, fallen branches and vegetation. The Hawkesdale Common is 5 acre area opposite Apex Park, with a gravel loop and interpretative signs about the local flora and fauna. This area has been planned by members of the Moyne Shire Youth Council, in conjunction with DSE. If you find and can catch any small skinks at home, take a photograph and bring them in a small container so we can release them at the park. Check the Victorian Museum site, “Bioinformatics” to identify your skinks and lizards. 6/7R students should leave a comment below to tell me what reptiles need to survive and why. For example, why do lizards need rocks?

Penshurst Volcano Discovery Centre and Mt Rouse


Today we visited the Penshurst Volcano Discovery Centre to learn about our local volcanic history and the formation of our landscape. After completing a worksheet at the Discovery Centre we went up Mt Rouse to this quarry site, which clearly shows the two eruptions – a scoria layer on the bottom and a basalt lava flow on the top (with soil and vegetation above that layer). We learnt about Maar volcanoes, formed when magma erupts into a water table and massive amounts of steam are produced, blowing material out of the crater. Tower Hill is an example of a Maar volcano. Mt Rouse is a scoria cone, produced when lots of gases shoot material into the air, where it cools and falls into a cone shape. Mt Eccles is a fissure volcano, formed when lava escapes from a split in the earth’s crust.

Year 8 students finished their Earth Science Assessment tasks today. Kirsten’s My Studiyo Rock Quiz  and Maddy’s My Studiyo Rocks! are great examples of student-created, online tasks. Georgia produced an excellent video using Photostory that is available at TeacherTube.

After walking down Mt Rouse we had a BBQ lunch and planted about 1,000 trees at Green’s Lane, Hawkesdale. One of my students asked “Why are we planting trees?”

  • To reduce erosion – the tree roots hold the soil together
  • To provide habitat for insects, birds, reptiles, mammals and other organisms
  • To provide shade and shelter for stock
  • Trees use carbon dioxide to produce oxygen and store carbon
  • Trees add value to farms
  • Trees reduce salinity by lowering the water table
  • Trees reduce evaporation from the creek and keep the water cooler
  • Aesthetic reasons – they look nice!

Please leave a comment below telling me two things you learnt at the Volcano Discovery Centre and what you enjoyed most about the day.


Junior Landcare Conference in Lorne


We are just back from our three day trip to Lorne, via the Otway Fly Treetop Walk and the Great Ocean Road, where we saw two mother-and-calf pairs of Southern Right whales. My own calves are still aching from the 47-metre climb to the top of the Otway Fly tower, where you can view through the treetops of the mighty mountain ash, native beech and blackwood trees to the forest floor of tree ferns and bracken.

Our students presented their very entertaining “Flash News” multimedia presentation with confidence and good humour and then attended two other “kids-teaching-kids” workshops in different groups. Some of the presentations included “What’s cute, grunts like a pig and needs our help?” (koalas), a school restoring their local creek, a giant snakes-and-ladders board game and an interactive drama about a picnic by the river.

Today we participated in hands-on environmental activities including:

  • building nesting boxes
  • investigating macro-invertebrates with Waterwatch
  • testing salinity with Estuary Watch
  • indigenous games
  • netting in the Erskine River
  • weed removal and tree-planting
  • recycling – how and why?
  • Rock-pool ramble

The post-conference reflection session allows students from each school to express their thoughts for the future – what they can do differently in the future to improve their home and school. The conference aims to give students opportunities to connect with their environment and with their peers, and instil a sense of hope and optimism for the future. By the end of this year, 15,500 students will have attended a Riverhealth/Environment conference, since their beginnings in Mildura in 1999. These students are our future decision-makers and hopefully they will spread the sustainability message in their homes, schools and communities for many years.

Arron Wood, the managing director of Firestarter Ltd, heads a team of passionate environmentalists who are dedicated to “environmental and educational credibility, applied and innovative work commitment, respect for social responsibility and the choice of ethical projects only”. Arron has just recently started blogging (Arron’s blog), so drop by and give him some encouragement to continue comunicating using this media by commenting on your experiences at Lorne.  Let Arron know what you learnt at the conference, what you enjoyed most and how the conference will affect the way you think, feel and act in the future.

End of year visit to Melbourne Aquarium

This is an egg case from a Port Jackson shark, photographed at the Melbourne Aquarium. Eight students from Hawkesdale College had the oppportunity to visit the aquarium when we attended the ResourceSmart awards recently. The mother shark lays a soft egg case and uses her mouth to wedge it in between rocks, where it hardens. After ten or twelve months a baby shark emerges and the egg case if often washed ashore. You can read more about the Port Jackson shark here. This site is also great for learning about dissecting fish and their internal organs. Learn about different species of fish and play the fish memory game here.

We are winding up the year at Hawkesdale with a number of camps and excursions. Last week, 30 year 8 and 9 students walked the recently opened Timboon Rail Trail. A good three hour walk through pockets of native forest and past three old timber railway bridges was great exercise. This week, 27 students from year 7, 8 and 9 are riding the Great Hawkesdale Bike ride, about 200 km over five days. Although they have experienced some challenges, with wind, rain and scorching heat, they are all enjoying themselves!

What did we do at ZooDoo?

After Cadbury’s Chocolate factory and lunch at Richmond historic village we visited ZooDoo. ZooDoo is a wildlife park quite unlike any I have ever been to! They have an unusual mix of farm animals, native australian animals and some exotic species, such as Bengali tigers and pygmy marmosets. “Up close with the animals” is an understatement at ZooDoo. And don’t miss the shetland minature pony race!

Hawkesdale to Hobart….

Spirit of Tasmania

We departed Hawkesdale on schedule and arrived in Melbourne with plenty of time to take a tour around the Albert Park Lake Grand Prix track, past Luna Park and along St. Kilda esplanade. We passed through customs without incident and boarded the “Spirit of Tasmania” with about 1,000 other people (Maximum capacity overnight is 1,050 passengers). With ten decks, restaurants, bars, shops, a cinema and various lounges, it was easy to get lost on board. After a very quiet and steady transit, we arrived in Devonport at 7.00am and returned to our coach. Breakfast was at a lovely bakery in Sheffield, a quiet country village with lovely painted murals all over the town’s buildings. We then travelled to the World Heritage Cradle Mountain and Lake St Clair National Park. We visited a replica of the first accommodation house in the region, built by a German bushwalking enthusiast nearly 100 years ago, before there were even any roads into the area. He believed that it was such a beautiful place, that it should be shared by all and everyone should have the opportunity to visit. Now the National Parks have to limit the number of visitors to prevent spoiling what everyone comes to look at! They limit the cars to 50 at any one time and only up to 60 bushwalkers can depart on any one day.