03 November 2017
“You’ve climbed the Efflux how many times?!” That was the exclamation from a Year 9 student as we limped down the gentle slope to the bus. We had just finished the Red Walk at Bungonia. “Why would you torture yourself like that?”
“That’s a really important question.” I replied, “There are some questions that need to be asked in life and that is one of them.” We start off at 9.00 am, with a packed lunch and some snacks, three litres of drink and some have a towel and swimmers. A nice level stroll out to the look down and then out to Mt Ayre. We then have a steep descent to navigate to the junction of the Shoalhaven River and Bungonia Creek. A welcome dip in the river and lunchtime to put the feet up for a welcome rest. We then head down the Bungonia Gorge – officially the deepest in Australia, on up through the Slot Canyon and reaching the boulders. The fastest are already through and come back over the 800m of rocks (some bigger than houses) over, under and around.
“Can I carry your pack? Do you need a hand?” Students offering to help each other – a WOW moment. That’s amazing! Then we hit the Efflux (the very steep shale covered accent out of the canyon). Some want to race and they can go for it. Some just want to get out of there. “Where is the chair lift? The helicopter? Do I really have to walk up that? Isn’t there another way out?” Up we go, up and up and up. The fastest do it in under 25 minutes. I usually take 90 minutes, getting back to camp around 4.30 pm. Tired? Definitely. Exhausted? Absolutely. Elated? Extremely. The National Parks rate the Red Walk as hard – my own rating is extreme. It’s extremely steep, extremely tiring, beautiful, awe inspiring, cool in a WOW kind of way but it’s also extremely challenging.
Do I need a challenge? I’ve done it already. Do some of my students need a challenge? Yes they do. Hands on learning, experiencing new situations, pushing comfort zones. Experiential learning (which is an important part of the Bungonia trip) is going a step further than just doing, it’s encouraging reflection on what they have done and how they have done it.
Declarations of “I am never going to abseil” followed by making the choice to give it a go and then proudly saying, “I’ve done it”. Being brave enough to choose to enter Grill Cave and admitting afterwards “I didn’t like it, but I am glad I have done it”. So back to the question. Why would you do that to yourself 18 times? I am now part of the experience each of those students have had in overcoming a challenging experience, a very difficult experience for some, a growing experience for all. By sharing it with the students and other staff who gladly come along, we now have a reference point together.
We have done something amazing and we have done it together. We have pushed ourselves hard and then further. As individuals we have succeeded, as a team we have conquered. We all did it. No one was left behind. The prayed for outcome is another question: How can I apply this to other situations life will throw at me?
Secondary PDHPE Coordinator