Macquarie Staff Q&A: Ben Mossemenear
What were your expectation and what were you discover on arriving?
I went in with an open mind and expecting the campus to be relatively remote. The ‘hospo’ dongas were comfortable (and air conditioned) and the staff made us all feel welcome.
Did the trip meet your expectations?
The trip well and truly exceed expectations. While the campus is remote, the school community is welcoming and the staff are dedicated both in the class room and in providing extra curricular activities. The bugs and heat pale in significance compared to what else the environment has to offer – rolling thunderstorms, wandering herds of brumbies and buffalo, and cruising crocs on the river to name a few.
The kids are engaged in the curriculum and seem to appreciate the additional effort put in by staff during community dinner and fluro Friday football. The obsession with AFL on any day would match that of any grand final – a footy is not far from reach for most kids.
Was there enough interaction with the children and do you find it culturally interesting?
I was involved with a quiz night, a homework / art class with the middle girls and a full day with the middle boys (literacy, numeracy and an excursion to Tarracumbie falls).
The kids were happy to chat about various aspects of their culture, particularly in their art class and were looking at blending different art forms with their Tiwi heritage. Across the art portfolios these ranged from using ceremonial arm bands as Olympic rings, combining Picasso style cubism with Tiwi portraits, to even using the leather of an AFL footy as a medium for printing designs.
The boys tended to focus on the local environment, with episodes of the crocodile hunter a favoured reward at the end of a productive lesson. On the trip out to the falls, the boys talked about fishing and hunting on the islands, often having to do so loudly over the B2M (local Tiwi band) music that was blaring out of the stereo.
How did you find your accommodation and transfers?
Accommodation and transfers were easy and comfortable – it reminded me of school camp and much nicer than mining sites I’ve visited.
Wilderness and nature experience? What was the highlight?
Goose Creek was unbelievable. The scenery of the river flying past, catching the saratoga and flighting the bull shark on the line were all highlights. Although watching a 5m croc dragging a whole buffalo carcass down the river by its front leg is something I won’t forget.
What did you think of the garden build to date?
Jason has done a fantastic job of the garden build. The variety of the fruit and vegetables not only provides healthy dietary choices for the school, but reduces the food required to be barged or flown in which helps in reducing costs for the school. You can see the benefits of providing some kids, that may get frustrated with the academic side of the school, a new outlet to channel their energies. Whether it be planting, feeding the chickens, or working maintenance – it provides another way for the students to contribute to the school community in a meaningful way.
Would you recommend the trip to others?
Definitely. I had to remind myself that this was still Australia. The surroundings and wildlife is amazing. The community that the school has created is an inclusive learning environment where you can easily see the benefits of the structure and programs.