[Walk – 11 May 2017]
At the start of our walk, one child produced a hand drawn map. This will show us ‘where to go’ she declared.
We set off via the back gate – the opposite way to usual. The children soon realised that the Shrine, which we usually visit first, was nowhere to be seen. The search for the Shrine became an important mission – but how to get our bearings?
On the way we found other human-made maps and signposts that the children studied for clues; but there was nothing to help find the place we were looking for.
Luckily, there were signs in the landscape too.
One child looked for some time at the surrounding low hills, valleys and treed areas – then pointed out ‘I think its that way because we always come that way from the Shrine’. He was spot on. We decided that if we kept walking up the hill, the Shrine would eventually come into view.
The children rushed off up the hill in anticipation of seeing the Shrine. They didn’t get far before one stopped: ‘I found something’! ‘It is a teepee made of sticks.’
Soon the children were exploring the surrounds, finding rabbit burrows and testing out the soft loose earth.
I saw a bunny. Here is a bunny hole. There is another hole on this side!
This dirt. It’s orange. It’s the colour of an ant’s nest. It’s soft and cold and wet. There’s some poo.
In the midst of all this activity, a reminder from one child: ‘We need to keep going. We are already here (pointing to the map). Let’s go the Shrine. It’s up the hill.’
Finally we arrived.
The children began eagerly tapping, scraping and turning over the now-familiar kangaroo bones in their hands.
While some seem fascinated by the sound and feel of the bones, others looked to the shape of the bones. Sometimes, other animals would appear: ‘This one looks like a sword fish. See it has a fin and a jaw.’
After some time, the child with the map said ‘Now – let’s go to the next map. The next map has the rock wall.’ As we passed over the rock wall the children wondered who might live in all the holes and crevices: ‘Maybe a snake or a mouse. There’s lots of holes here.
Our final stop was a large sunken dip in the landscape where the ground was covered in eucalypt bark. The children were intent on the ‘crunch, crunch’ sound underfoot as they walked along. This focus on the fallen tree debris soon revealed a number of large sticks – just the kind the children sometimes collect to take back to the Centre for their stick fence. It didn’t take long for each child to find a stick that they thought would be perfect.
Navigating the way home bearing a collection of large sticks turned out to be quite a complex endeavour of child-stick manoeuvring.