Melbourne, Australia (2010)
Thirty-three Secondary 3 Express and Normal Academic students and five teachers, Mr Steven Wong, Mrs Elaine John, Ms Amanda Loh, Mr Bryan Oei and Ms Chee Foo Lan, went on a 7-day Humanities / English Language educational trip to Melbourne, Australia from 6 June to 12 June 2010. The highlight of the trip was the visit to two secondary colleges in Melbourne and the opportunity for the students to attend the lessons and interact with the Australian students. The trip offered a balanced mix of education and recreation as the group also visited the Great Ocean Road, Tower Hill and Phillip Island.
Touching down at Melbourne International Airport on the cold early morning of Day Two, the group began their journey along the Great Ocean Road to study the magnificent coastal landscape of headlands, bays, beaches and stacks. The walking tour started at the Twelve Apostles, where giant rock stacks stand as high as 45 metres tall. The guided tour continued to The Loch Ard which was a visible example of the powerful action of wave erosion. The exciting coastal journey for the day ended with an overnight stay at the quaint and beautiful Port Fairy Youth Hostel.
The next day, the group toured a wind farm to study an alternative source of energy before journeying to Tower Hill to study the native vegetation and its adaptation to the environment. The group also went on the Tower Hill guided volcanic walking tour to learn about geothermal activity, tectonic plate movements and most importantly, the impact of volcanic activity on man. The accommodation for the next five nights in Melbourne city was at the YHA Metro.
Day Four began with the much awaited visit to the Reservoir District Secondary College. The group experienced a very unique but comfortable 45-minute tram ride to the college and received a warm welcome from the Principal, Staff and students. The group attended the Photography, Cookery and Humanities lessons. At the Cookery class, they had the chance to bake jam drops under the very kind supervision of the teacher, Ms Helen Robinson. The visit to the college was indeed an eye-opener for the group as they interacted with the Australian students and exchanged learning experiences and cultures of the two countries.
On Day Five, the group visited Churchill Island, a tiny historic island, where they were taken on a guided tour of the farm to investigate Churchill Island’s early European settlers and how they interacted with the island’s environment. This walking tour included interesting activities like sheep shearing and milking cow. Then they journeyed to Nobbies to explore the rock platforms and the biodiversity. The most exciting part of the journey was the much awaited Penguin Mission Programme where the students learnt about the lives of the fairy penguins and how Phillip Island Nature Park manages the environmental and human threats to ensure the survival of these fairy penguins. It was absolute thrill as the group braved the biting cold and wet winter evening to watch the fairy penguin parade before heading back to Melbourne. The group saw many wild little fairy penguins emerging from the sea and waddling across the beach to their sand dune burrows on the shore. It was indeed a rich experience that they will remember for a long time.
The next day, the group visited the second school, Princes Hill Secondary College. Once again, they were warmly received by the Principal, Mr Stone who took the group on a tour of the college. The group attended two Humanities lessons and interacted with the students at the college. The group had the chance to discuss with the Australian students, the similarities and differences of pop culture between Singapore and Melbourne during the Humanities lesson.
On the final day of the trip, the group toured Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens where they embarked on a guided Aboriginal Heritage walk to get to know how aboriginal people kept their tradition and culture in the fast changing society. In the afternoon, the group also got a chance to study the urban city planning in Melbourne and rationalized the local authority’s objectives in town planning and preservation of its architecture and culture. They were also treated to a coach tour around Melbourne city and Chinatown, Australia’s oldest Chinese settlement to identify the urban settlement pattern in view of the influx of the various immigrants. The group also saw Melbourne Museum and visited the Melbourne State Library. The trip ended with the evening flight back to Singapore.
This 7-day educational trip was indeed a meaningful and memorable experience for all the thirty-three students as they developed closer bonds while learning more about the Australian way of life, their culture and most importantly, the Australian education system.
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