Report from Red Earth

In July this year, two groups of Year 9 students participated in the School’s Red Earth immersion experience.

Today members of the group shared their Red Earth experiences with High School during Assembly.

Edie and Izzy were part of Group 1 and travelled with Ms Holness and Ms Mills.

Edie: The Red Earth Indigenous Immersion is a unique experience IGS students have had for many years. This opportunity is offered to students in Year 9. This year IGS had forty Year 9 students travel to Central Australia to learn first-hand about the people, stories and traditions of the world’s oldest continuing living Culture. 

Izzy: We flew into Uluru, the first stop of our trip. There we met Sarah and Michelle, who shared sacred stories of the rock formations, history, and carvings along Uluru. The next morning we woke up and drove seven hours to Alice Springs, where we met Benji. We unfortunately couldn’t go to Rodna because of the rain but instead stayed in Alice Springs for three days. While staying there we visited gorgeous gorges, salt lakes and sacred sites. 

Edie: The next place was Benji’s campsite, near Rodna, where for dinner we had kangaroo tail. After a sad goodbye to Benji we headed to Black Tank and participated in a smoking ceremony with Veronica and Pamela. There we learned about the Aranda language and roles in society. We each received skin names, and we got married to our designated partners. Pamela and Veronica also taught us how to make bush medicine that we were allowed to take home. We thanked Pamela and Veronica for the knowledge they shared and set off for our last couple of days.

Izzy: At Kings Canyon Creek Station, our campsite, we had some night-time visitors — dingoes. On the second to last day, we woke up before dawn to partake in the three to four hours long Kings Canyon Rim walk where the sun rose in the background. Halfway through the hike we took a detour to The Garden of Eden where we had a break. Our last night was spent in Yulara, where we watched the sunset over Uluru and enjoyed a final dinner, nachos. The last day was spent visiting Kata Tjuta, a national park consisting of 36 dome rock formations. 

Edie: Every night we made a fire and sat around it singing songs with our leaders Ray, Michelle and Ri and Jeff, our fantastic bus driver. Through our journey, we learned many things from Benji, Veronica and Pamela. They shared stories from their tribes and shared knowledge about the land that we will never forget.  We fell asleep under the canopy of the milky way, in our swags, while watching shooting stars go past. Departing was an emotional experience. Tears were shed and hugs were given.

Izzy: Thank you for this amazing opportunity, it will forever be with us.

Jalynda, Delphine and Alex travelled in Group 2 with Mr Martin, Mr Pace and Ms Sampson.

Delphine: We are here today to share our life changing journey of Red Earth. We travelled to the heart of Australia, staying in Yulara as well as Kulpithara and Rodna, the traditional homelands of Billy and Benji. During the trip, I experienced countless things; however, my highlight was when one of the Elders, Billy, shared with us stories around the campfire, such as when he was telling us scary stories about the wild women. 

Alex: When we were there we met and connected with First Nations kids from the community. We tried bushtucker such as honey ants and witchetty grubs , saw incredible natural landscapes and beautiful sacred lands. My highlight of the trip was swimming in the Fink River, which is the oldest river in the world. It was very cold.

Jalynda: We visited so many places. One particular place that stood out for me was the waterhole at Uluru, it was so peaceful and beautiful. It was amazing to think about the people and wildlife that once lived there. I also enjoyed hearing Billy’s scary stories around the campfire, even though they gave me nightmares. We learnt to paint with Keturah Zimran, Billy’s wife, who is a famous artist. We painted the honey ants that we had dug up earlier that day. One of my favourite memories was sitting in the giant honey ant hole with Keturah and her grandchildren, just talking about our lives. To see what life is like for people in remote communities was really eye opening. The sunsets were breathtaking and laying under the stars of the night sky with my friends reflecting on life and our experience was really special. 

Delphine: Red Earth was a once in a lifetime experience that we are all forever grateful for.