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Canberra Day 5

This morning was a later start, allowing students to quickly tidy their rooms
and pack their bags as we would be heading home on the bus tonight after
dinner. We started our last day of touring the Capital at the National Library.
A stunning building, we were led inside and split into two groups to explore
the behind-the-scenes workings of the library. It was fascinating to hear about
how records and books were kept in places like the morgue and train stations
before having a National library built by demand. Still contemporary, despite
being built in the 60's, the library houses over 2 million items, with a
further 7 million at other facilities!

Taken downstairs to the archives, students were shown the old tube shoot system
where requests for books would be made and sent back up to the library desk, we
were introduced to one of the 4 robots (Charlie) that work for the library,
taking the books and documents where they need to go. We had a brief tour of
the microfilm and newspaper storerooms and fortunate enough to look around the
Capital exhibit, including a look at Captain Cook's diary.

Our next destination is one that many students, in particular defence family
students, had been looking forward to all trip. The National War Memorial. Mike
Meredith took us on a tour of ANZAC parade, looking at each of the war
monuments and discussing the symbolism of each piece and the importance of each
battle to Australia's military history. As we felt the crunch of the red rock
beneath our feet you heard the sound of soldiers marching, reading the words on
the monuments gave insight into the trials of each battle. The walk culminated
back up at the War Memorial where we quickly recharged with a bite to eat
before starting our afternoon inside one of the most notable landmarks of the
city.

We all started in the D-Zone, an interactive walk-through of WW1, WW2, Vietnam
War and the Cold War. Students experienced a trench setting, military
helicopters and the closed space of a submarine. An enjoyable start to the
tour, we headed off in our groups for a tour of the Memorial. Vivid displays of
infamous battles such as the Somme captured everyone's attention and created a
talking point on the experiences of war. An emotional tour for many, we walked
through, learning more of the tales and tragedies of many notable Australian
soldiers. Everyone came away from this experience emotionally moved and with a
great respect for the sacrifices and dedication that the military forces serve
for our country. To end this day with respect, commemoration and ceremony, 4 of
our students had the honour of laying wreaths as part of the Last Post ceremony
for the day. Strict in protocol, the ceremony was moving, the playing of the
Last Post caught in the throats of many. We all left for the bus a little
quieter and humbled by the experience.

A quick dinner change to the High Court and a change of clothes for the bus
ride home. The  architecture of the High Court is award winning and
definitely something to behold. This was a quick stop before boarding the bus,
saying goodbye to Canberra and looking forward to getting back to our loved
ones to tell them all about everything we had done in 5 days! It was a
fantastic trip that connected to so much of the learning students had been a
part of throughout the year and will carry on in their future learning in the
Senior School.

For now it is lights out and when the sun comes up we'll be back in SA. Thanks
for everything Canberra!

Sarah Zwarts

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Day 4 Canberra

We woke to a nice, cool, overcast morning as we headed off to the National
Museum. We were met with amazing architecture and a run down of the history of
the building, and the site of the old hospital by the lovely tour guides.
Nothing has been built without purpose and symbolism at the museum, including
the arch connecting Australia's spiritual center (Uluru) with Parliament House
to the two story white building aptly named 'The Australian Dream' and the
giant Braille displaying many of the great Australian colloquialisms. A
building as rich with culture and history on the outside as it is on the
inside!

Students were taken in their groups to explore exhibits such as Indigenous
fashion and design, the multimedia presentation 'Circa' taking Australia
through its history from Indigenous through federation to today, Phar-Lap and
Retro Australia exhibit. This was definitely a destination we could have spent
all day at.

From here it was back to the center for a trip to the National Gallery. Fascinating
pieces by French impressionists, political Indigenous art that linked tradition
with new age and an interesting instalment of glowing chandeliers that
symbolised the use of nuclear power around the world. The keen art students in
the group were soaking up nearly every wall in the building and we're
definitely not ready to leave. Alas we needed to head to our next destination
across the road, the National Portrait Gallery. A quick stop for a bite to eat
as we listened to the bells of the Carillon before heading inside to appreciate
various portraits depicting influential Australians such as Anthony Mundine,
Princess Mary and Bob Brown. We were given quick lessons in blind drawing, some
of the students showing up their teachers with their artistic talents! Both
galleries were a wealth of stories and talent and a testament to the Australian
influence on art.

To finish off our afternoon we drove up the hill to the National Arboretum.
Growing on a site previously devastated by the fires in the ACT 12 years ago,
each tree farm has been well planned and thought out to best utilise the
natural landscape and weather of Canberra. It was a long hike to the bottom of
the hill and back up again, the sun was starting to bite and the grass was
itchy but everyone stuck together and learned a lot about the various tree
species and the future goals of the Arboretum.

Well and truly tired, knowing that it was dinner time was music to our ears.
Having warmed up during the day the students were keen to get back to the hote
pool and relax before dinner.

Not to let them relax too long, we managed to round everyone back up after
dinner to head up the mountain to another stunning view of Canberra at sunset,
a perfect round off to the day. On to tomorrow, our last day.

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Day 3 Canberra Update

Off to an early start again, everyone is starting to get into the
rhythm of the day now and the wise know that getting to breakfast early means
the pick of the best seats and the first serves of the hot food. We ate quick
and got on the bus ready to travel across the city to Geo Science Australia for
some rock exploration and creating our own earthquake visible on a seismograph.
Students had the opportunity to explore rare minerals and touch rocks millions
of years old.

From here it was off to the zoo! Some students were already
excited to see the animals and had heard that they would have the opportunity
to feed the tigers. The National Zoo and Aquarium has recently opened
accommodation where the rooms are situated within the enclosures, it was
definitely spectacular to see! We were taken for a tour to see the monkeys,
emus, tigers, snakes, giraffes, sharks and penguins to name a few. A lucky
group of students got to feed the 21 year old Bengal Tiger named Bacar. He was
definitely a highlight of the zoo, pacing slowly back and forth as he
waited patiently for his meal. A quick stop to the souvenir shop and we were
back on the bus to eat lunch on the go as we headed to the Questicon Technology
Center to begin an interactive activity.

Situated in the old Royal Australian Mint building, Questicon
Technology Center was filled with purpose built workshops with one goal in
mind; innovation. Students were given the task to create a crane from the wide
selection of raw materials available around the workshop with a design brief
that their crane must extend at least 20cm from the ground, have a base no
larger that 6cm x 6cm, be able to hold a load of 100g and have a
counterweight of up to 300g. For the students who wished to extend themselves
they could also include an ability to raise, lower and rotate the load, be able
to hold up to 200g and have a boom that was extendable from the mast. We were
so impressed with the innovative ideas the students came up with, some
utilising air pressure, pulleys and scaffolding to better their designs.

Moving just down the road we arrived at the Australian National
Archive to experience a glimpse of important Australian history, the making of
a nation and the Australian migration stories throughout the 20th century.
Students were treated to a viewing of the original proclamations of the
Monarchy at the time of Federation, the Royal Seal, the original Australian Constitution
and the Australia's Act. Learning about the considerations that need to be made
when storing these important documents was fascinating, from the control of
temperature to the right lighting to preserve the ink on the paper. Students
were tested on the dictation test that shaped the White Australia Policy and
had first hand experience at just how hard this test was to pass. Only 3
succeeded!!

Another busy day was drawing to a close as we returned just in
time for dinner and not long to eat it before we were heading out again for an
exclusive after hours tour of the Questicon Discovery Center, much like the
former Investigator Science Center in Adelaide. From the moment we walked in
the door and heard the crack of electric charge and the roar of thunder, we
knew we were in for a great night! First was an opportunity to look through the
extensive gift shop with many making purchases for loved ones back home
before starting the tour at the very top in their brand new 'Spiders'
exhibition. It did not take long to separate the arachnophobia in the room as
some were quick to move along to the next exhibit. We were treated to room
after room of creative activities and learning experiences and even saw staff
take the leap down the 6m free fall slide!

Overall a great day, we all got back to our rooms exhausted and
ready for bed. Tomorrow we will be indulging in the arts, history and flora.

Sarah Zwarts

Day 2 update from Canberra

We woke up from a much needed night of rest feeling refreshed and
hungry. The Ibis Hotel put on a great spread to get our day started before
hopping onto the bus and on our way to our first stop, The Royal Australian
Mint. The students were taken through a guided tour of Australia's currency
history and shown the printing process from start to finish. Running short on
time the students quickly made their way to the ANZAC centenary press to make
their own uncirculated  $1 coin.

Our next stop was the new Parliament House where we were greeted
by the ever-so-charming tour guide Michael who had the whole group
laughing and engaged as he explained the parliamentary process inside the House
of Representatives. The sheer size and beauty of the room will be a lasting
memory and although we were all hoping to catch a Mr Turnbull or Mr Shorten
walking the halls, our hopes were crushed as Michael told us sitting had
finished for the year. Looking around the outside of the building it was
fascinating to hear about how the design to insert the building inside the hill
rather than on top was deliberate so that parliament was not seen to be above
the people looking down.

As we moved into the main foyer Michael passed us over to the
Parliamentary Education Officer Seona to take the students for a Senate
role-play activity. The students debated over a proposal to provide free WiFi
on all public transport and with the support of the independents and minor parties,
the bill was passed!

Tummies were starting to rumble at this stage so we quickly headed
over to the National Capital Exhibition and enjoyed a light lunch at the park
across the road. Waiting to enter the exhibition, the students were divided
into two groups and taken through Canberra's conception to the development of
the city today. We were shown the deliberate planning of the city and the
importance of the positions of the landmarks to the landscape. Truly a city
that has embraced Australian culture and diversity and a testament to the
quality that Australia has to offer in fields such as Science, Military, Law
and Education.

Tying in with student learning in Civics and Citizenship, the
group headed to the Australian Electoral Commission where they were shown the
history of voting in Australia and the struggles that groups such as women,
Indigenous Australians and migrants faced in gaining voting rights. Questions
were asked about why it is important to vote and have your say in how you
country is run and the students were treated to a mock simulation of what it is
like to put in your ballot vote and how the preferential voting system
works.

Ducking around the corner to Old Parliament House we were taken
through the history of the building, including a walk through of the old House
of Representatives, small in comparison to the room we saw earlier in the day.
Students were taken through an interactive archive of Australia's democratic
history where they could find exhibitions via an online search system and learn
more about the important historical events that have shaped Australia today.

Weary and once again hungry, it was back to the accommodation for
a quick dinner and relax before heading out at dusk to climb the Telstra Tower
and have a birds eye view of the city. The group enjoyed getting out onto the
open deck, it was windy, but the views of the lights of the city were
beautiful. A perfect way to end a day of learning about how the Capital was
shaped.

Tomorrow will be filled with science and animals and a delve into
the National Archives. Stay tuned.

Sarah Zwarts

Day One Canberra

Off to an early start, the Year 9 Canberra Trip departed GGHS
headed for our first stop Renmark for dinner. Along this route we were faced
with the remnants of the recent Pinery fires. The students got to see first
hand just how far and how devastating the fire zone was. From there we had a
smooth ride through to Renmark, again arriving early for dinner. Saturday was a
warm one and Renmark was no different with the temperature still sitting at an
uncomfortable 38 degrees at 6 p.m.

We were welcomed and taken great care of by the staff at Renmark
Hotel and with bellies full and numerous electronic devices to get back to, we
were set for the overnight ride through to Canberra. Whilst buses are not known
for their sleeping comforts, most were able to get in at least a few hours
sleep, enough to see us through our busy first day in the nation's Capital.

The sun rose just before 6 a.m. as we left our final pit stop at
the aptly named 'Dog on the Tuckerbox' at Gundagai. Much needed snacks and
drinks were restocked as we prepared for the start of our day. As we found our
way into Canberra the lovely people at 'Food on the Run' served us up a
full breakfast and students changed in preparation for the day ahead. Following
breakfast we walked through the UN Avenue of Flags as the students admired the
amount of locals out exercising early on the lake and the peaceful nature of
the city.

From here we moved on to the Australian Institute of Sport that
impressed us all in its range of facilities and sheer size! The students were
divided into 3 groups and taken by staff from AIS to take part in 3 activities;
lacrosse, sock wrestling and dodge-ball. The students, even though
exhausted from the trip, were lively and took advantage of all three
opportunities. Even some of the staff got in on the action! This stop got the
blood pumping and the tummies rumbling ready for lunch at the National Botanical
Gardens.

Keeping with our early theme we were there before the catering and
so the rangers at the gardens took the students off in small groups to explore
the gardens, the largest living collection of Australian fauna and flora. It
was beautiful to see the range of ecosystems Australia has to offer, the
students in particular were impressed with the rain-forests of Queensland and
Tasmania, some even getting lost in the mist.

Upon our return we had our lunch waiting for us as we enjoyed
the surroundings and the overly polite lizards and ducks looking for a piece of
our food. Ready and recharged we hopped back on the bus and headed to our next
destination, The Bird Aviary.

The sun was starting to get a bite to it so the students tried to
stay out of the sun as much as they could, and luckily the bird life inside
the Aviary would follow you where ever you went so long as you had a
piece of apple or some meal worms in your hand. A few pecks on hands from some
impatient budgies and some bonding experiences with the
more charismatic bird characters, this was just the start of the
students time with animals today.

Conveniently across the road was the Reptile Zoo. Inconspicuous to
a passer by, but full of wonderful creatures and learning from the enthusiastic
team inside! Students were lucky enough to meet the new salt water crocodile
resident 'Charlie', some even sitting down to enjoy a one on one with him. As
we moved through the zoo we were introduced to the many species of lizard,
snake and aquatic life Australia has to offer and of course some curious minds
asking how poisonous each snake was and how they killed their prey. Staff were
continuously wandering the exhibits holding lizards or pythons for everyone to
come and touch and the resident black cockatoo watched vigilantly over
everyone, warning all those that came too close!

As much as everyone was enjoying the reptiles, it was finally time
to head to our accommodation and enjoy the first, brief moment of relaxation
before dinner. The students were excited to check out their rooms with their
bunk buddies, with some quickly changing into their swimmers for a quick dip at
the end of a hot day. We all met back for dinner in the hall, hosted by our
accommodation to fill us up once more for our last stop of the day. Yes, we're
not done yet!

Moving off at dusk, we approached the National Dinosaur Museum
with its vast array of model dinosaurs and fossil exhibits. Opened after hours
just for us, the students were entertained and enthralled by the ever-so-knowledgeable
tour guide Alyssa who took us through each of the eras of dinosaurs. The
exhibits were elaborate, giving everyone a key insight into the past and the
common misconceptions made about dinosaurs in the media and movies. The
darkness of the exhibits at night added a certain element to the tour,
culminating in the ice age exhibit and a look around the large museum
shop.

Finally, after many purchases were made and all heads were counted
on the bus, we were on our way back to the hotel to greet the many rabbits and
kangaroos that hung out outside our rooms and get our tired, sore bodies to
bed. The rest will be needed tonight as we have another jam-packed day at
Parliament House tomorrow.

Until then, Sarah Zwarts.