‘Eat Dirt’ a program aimed at connecting students to Country, nature and each other is coming to an end for 2022 and to celebrate the group from Bellingen High School headed out to Hungry Head Beach in Urunga to hear some stories from Uncle Micklo and swim in the ocean under the watchful eyes of five lifeguards from Hungry Head Surf Life Saving. It’s not often you get the beach to yourselves with your own personal water safety crew!
Despite the rain and less than ideal conditions the group had an absolute ball, playing soccer, cricket and footy on the beach, finishing off with hot chips and scallops and a spot of fishing.
Every Thursday since April the group has come together to undertake bush regeneration, creek clean-ups, propagation, primal games, growing vegetables, nature journalling and art activities at Bellingen High. Other activities have included chainsaw maintenance, jiu jitzu, learning about SMEAC briefings and fire-fighting, painting murals, yoga and trying to catch the elusive koi carp that have been released into the local creek.
We have also put on a Night for the Folks with Tomorrow Man, Tomorrow Woman and contributed to the school’s wellbeing day by funding a tie dye workshop and One Mob Radio and purchased some branded marquees for use at sporting and community events. It was great to see them being used to provide shade for locals who had gathered in Bellingen town for a memorial for Gillian Helfgott, acclaimed astrologer and wife of the amazing pianist David Helfgott.
Project Manager, Melanie Tyas said: “The aim of the project was to connect our students to nature, Country, each other and place and we are well on the way to achieving that goal. We now have a couple of students who would like to pursue a career in bush regeneration and a conversation with the lifeguards yesterday has planted the seed for a new bush regen group forming to remove the weeds from the littoral rainforest at the back of Hungry Head Beach.
“Uncle Micklo’s weekly stories have connected us to Country and by getting our hands in the soil, whether it be by planting vegies or removing weeds, and spending every Thursday out of the classroom we have connected to nature. Working as a team in sporting events such as Captain and Tunnel Ball, and force ‘em backs has cemented friendships with both mentors and mentees alike and as we heal the land we heal ourselves.
“A huge thank you to Resilience NSW for providing the funding to make this possible, to Bellingen High for embracing the program and to our partners Surf Life Saving NSW and Gotcha4Life. This is just the beginning of our journey to transform education,” said Melanie.
Funding for this pilot program has been made possible with a grant from the NSW Government’s Bushfire Community Recovery and Resilience Fund and is a partnership project with Gotcha4Life, Surf Life Saving NSW, Bellingen High School and the local community.
To find out more about the project, contact Melanie Tyas, Landcare NSW on firstname.lastname@example.org.