Winton ‘On Campus’ Experience

Last week, our Year 6 students were transported to the Outback, where they participated in a two-day event that celebrated a number of rich experiences that are part of the usual Winton Camp experience.

We were extremely fortunate to receive photos and videos from Ayrshire Downs, a sheep station in the Winton area, which gave students an appreciation for life in the Outback. Students were thrilled when they were able to talk to the Whitehead family, owners of Mentone Station, through a Zoom session. They enjoyed learning about the life of 12-year-old Ashley and hearing about her daily tasks and schooling in rural Queensland.

One of our first stops on Winton Camp would have been to the Cosmos Observatory in Charleville. After taking a virtual tour through the Centre, students were given a design challenge by NASA: to design and build a spacecraft that could ‘land’ safely without injuring their marshmallow astronauts or damaging the spacecraft when being dropped from their Year 6 balcony. In small groups, students excitedly got to work with their bag of materials to construct some impressive looking Astronaut Landers. The Winton Foyer transformed into a world of creativity and ingenuity as students discussed how they could create shock absorbers by folding paper to look like an accordion, or how the mini marshmallows could be used as landing-pad feet to stop the astronauts falling out. Each group was able to produce a unique design that they should be proud of. While only a few Astronaut Landers survived ‘The Drop’, the Winton qualities of teamwork and comradery were definitely on display throughout the activity.

Longreach is the home of the outstanding QANTAS Founders Museum. Celebrating the centenary of this ground-breaking institution, students learned about the history of QANTAS and links to outback communities. They enjoyed seeing how technology changed aviation throughout history and appreciated having a ‘tour’ of the aeroplanes and artefacts at the museum. Students also decorated their own flying machines and experimented with a number of models to determine which one would fly the farthest. Students thrived when given the opportunity to collaborate with their peers when working on their designs.

The students embarked on a virtual tour of the Age of Dinosaurs Museum where they discovered that, in 1999, while mustering sheep on his property Belmont near Winton, David Elliott discovered the fossilised bone of what was, at the time, Australia’s largest dinosaur. This bone was later identified as part of a giant femur from a Cretaceous sauropod (later nicknamed Banjo) that roamed the Winton area 95 million years ago. During the tour the students were guided through behind the scenes of the most productive Fossil Preparation Laboratory in the Southern Hemisphere. The keen dinosaur hunters then experienced dinosaurs first-hand using Augmented Reality where they posed for photos with the ferocious creatures in the land before time. After that, the students were challenged with designing a ‘Wanted’ poster for an Australian dinosaur and the best designs were awarded a prize. There are some enthusiastic future palaeontologists amongst the Year 6 cohort.

The students embarked on a trip to discover the tale of how Australia’s ‘second national anthem’ Waltzing Matilda was written by Banjo Paterson down by the Combo Waterhole. We learned Aussie words and phrases such as a swagman, tuckerbag and jumbuck before singing along to the song in a harmonious tune. The apprentice stockmen and women saddled up on their trusty ‘thoroughbred horses’ after learning about The Stockman’s Hall of Fame to muster their own unsuspecting ‘sheep’.

They used a makeshift lasso to capture a jumbuck and race away from the troopers in a horseback relay. With great determination, teamwork, encouragement and fits of laughter the students enjoyed their wild ride in this Winton Experience.

The Year 6 Winton Experience culminated in watching Red Dog, an Outback-inspired movie, indulging in a sausage sizzle, and either watching or taking part in the Talent Show. Numerous talented students (and staff!) dazzled the audience with their amazing acts and an enjoyable time was had by all. It was a pleasure to witness our Year 6s gain a greater appreciation about life in the Outback through this remarkable experience.

Reflections from Year 6 students below:

We had a sausage sizzle and I went up for four servings! We also had a talent show, it was very jubilant and the acts were hilarious. Surprisingly, we also got to watch a movie that had a cataclysmic story line and parts of it were quite intriguing. Lilium Salar

I really enjoyed watching Bob Smith teaching us about how he was a pilot for Qantas. I also enjoyed making space crafts to try to land it on the ground. I found the sausages were delicious and I was ready to watch the Talent Show. When Ben and Aran started the rap it was so funny and everyone liked it. Max Williamson

The hard work of the Year 6 teachers meant that we would experience our Winton trip, but in a different and safer way... The Winton Experience. Personally, my favourite activity was the Talent Show even though I didn't perform. I enjoyed the show because there were dancers, magicians and even ‘rappers’. The awesome acts were accompanied by flashing lights, giving off a festive and jubilant mood.  We got sausage sizzles and cans of soft drinks before the show. It was really fun to eat, drink and play with your friends under the sunset. I am really grateful that we got to experience Outback Queensland because of the hard work of our teachers. Sophia Sher

My favourite part about my Winton Experience was the stockman activity because I was with new people and got to run around. I had so much fun doing it. Savannah and I thought our bilby poster was really unique as it had a lot of special features. I loved my Winton experience as I had so much fun with my group, Matilda. Alexia Palumbo

I especially enjoyed the sheep catching activity because it was fun to do in a team and felt really competitive with the other teams. The second activity I did was the ‘wanted’ dinosaur activity. I enjoyed doing this with one of my good friends, Nate and we found a lot of interesting things on Australian dinosaurs. Blake Sweeney

My favourite part of the Winton Experience was the activity we did with Mrs Truss-Michaelis which was the Cosmo Observatory experience and we got to make our own rocket ship. My team didn’t land the rocket standing upright but our marshmallows were safe! Holly Ferguson

Thank you to staff, students, parents and our friends in Winton for helping to create some fantastic memories for our Year 6 students, and thank you to 7NEWS Gold Coast for recognising the enormous effort that went in to the Winton On Campus Experience.

Watch the 7NEWS Gold Coast coverage:

Tim Collins, Dana Daniel, Kerrie Moore and Zoe Truss-Michaelis – Year 6 Teachers