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Oct 27, 2022

Year 9 Tour 2022

The 2022 Year 9 Tour started with a mix of sleepy and excited students, climbing onto the buses, and waving a final farewell to their parents, before departing the College for 10 days of adventure. With stops at Dalby and Roma for replenishments and toilet breaks, the cohort arrived at Takarakka Bush Resort, Carnarvon Gorge with just enough daylight left to set up camp.

With a hearty evening meal, it was off to the tents for an early night before the first trek up Boolimba Bluff. The trek was a 7km undulating walk, ascending 963 steps through a very wet and rainy gorge. Traversing several small ladders anchored into the rocks, the group witnessed spectacular sweeping views of the surrounding high country.

Rainy weather and wet tents could not dampen spirits as the cohort eagerly anticipated a 17km trek the next day. Plans changed, however, due to the wet weather, and the group swiftly turned around and made their way back, helping a group of elderly hikers along the way who had become separated. After feeling like superheroes, it was time to pack up, load the buses and head off to Longreach. Our new campsite was the Agricultural College in Longreach.

The first stop of the day was to meet Cheryl from The Desert Dreaming Centre who explained the significance of the Tree of Knowledge Memorial and the formation of the Labour Party and the Great Shearers’ Strike. Students also learned aspects of Indigenous, culture, beliefs, and practices and participated in various traditional dances.

The next stop was Camden Park Station, where the cohort met the Walker Family and visited their property which had previously hosted the Queen and Prince Phillip. Here we experienced a sheep and cattle station, walking through the historical homestead gardens, shearing shed, and cattle yard. The students enjoyed the afternoon with Outback Dan, preparing a traditional campfire meal followed by some star and planet gazing.

Day 6 saw the students visit the Qantas Founders Museum, where they gained an insight into passenger aircraft development within Australia with many interesting exhibits. They learned that the museum is the only place in the world where one can tour two fully equipped passenger jet aircraft.

The next part of the Tour saw the students visit the Stockman’s Hall of Fame, where they discovered the importance of the stockmen and Aborigines in the early pioneering years and the history behind some of Australia's bravest and most intrepid explorers. This was followed by dinner and the Outback Stockman’s Show which tells the story of real-life stockmen and women who work on the land. The day finished with the breathtaking Qantas Luminescent Longreach Show, a 20-minute night sound and light show in the airpark enclosure.

During the next part of the Tour, the cohort said hello to Cool Waters Park, Yeppoon. The first stop on day 8 was the Rockhampton Zoo which is home to over fifty species of native and exotic animals followed by morning tea in the botanical gardens.A short bus ride had the students at the top of Mount Archer National Park, walking along the overhanging boardwalk and admiring views over the Fitzroy River and City.

After lunch, it was off to the Capricorn Caves where the tour began at a magnificent cave entrance with students witnessing the magnificent fig tree roots clinging to the limestone walls and the cool cave air emerging from the darkness below. The natural acoustics of the Cathedral Cave makes it a popular venue for weddings and Underground Opera.

The day the students had all been waiting for was finally upon them, Great Keppel Island. Whether it was the glass-bottomed boat for coral and fish exploration or snorkeling over the plate, tabletop, brain, and staghorn corals. This exceptional experience allowed the students to immerse themselves in a breathtaking underwater world. Being dragged behind the boat in groups of 10 whilst lying on a net, boom netting, and cruising the magnificent Island bays was an idyllic way to end the day and the 2022 Tour as a whole.

It was a pleasure and privilege to take this incredible group of students away who represented themselves, their families, and the College remarkably whilst on Tour.

- Secondary School Teacher, Mr Paul Rayfield