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Year 2 excursion to Willum Warrain Aboriginal Association

Here at Mentone Grammar, we’re dedicated to educating, inspiring, and enabling our students to celebrate Australia’s unique Indigenous heritage. As part of this, our Year 2 students focus on ‘Histories and Cultures of Australia’s First Peoples’ to learn about the richness and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander customs.

On Thursday 16 March, our students travelled to the Willum Warrain (‘home by the sea’) Aboriginal Association on the Mornington Peninsula. This gathering place is where Aboriginal people come together to realize community, forge a shared identity, and teach others about their culture. To commence the cultural immersion tour run by Aboriginal Elders, our students participated in a ‘Welcome to Country’ and a traditional smoking ceremony.

Following this, our students sat down for a morning of captivating Dreamtime stories and discussion. A class favourite was the infamous tale of ‘Tiddalick The Frog,’ who drank up all the rivers and billabongs in the land, without a care for the other animals. This story resulted in a deep classroom discussion about the preciousness of our water resources and the importance of sharing. Historically, this story taught young Aboriginal children – and now our contemporary students – about the value of listening to their Elders: those whose life experiences could help them make better decisions. During the lesson, students learned symbols are used by Aboriginal people in their art as another way of storytelling. They were shown that certain symbols like dots, concentric circles, and curved or straight lines are often used to depict people, animals, and places.

With their minds filled with stories and life lessons, our students were ready to stretch their legs on a bush tucker trail. The Elders showed the children how to spot food sources in nature, and allowed them to try a salt plant used in cooking. Along the way, the children spotted the painted ‘shield trees,’ which Aboriginals have used to build canoes, shelters, and weapons. After the walk the class delighted in building a traditional hut and were shown how to gather the materials and tie all the pieces, they soon found that it was a lot harder than they anticipated!

What better way to conclude a day than with dancing? Our students loved stomping around and moving like an emu and other Australian animals. Thank you to the people at Willum Warrain for making this day so enjoyable for our students!