Early this year, an opportunity arose to apply for a teacher-specific family trip to the Northern Territory, in which I was successful.
Becky from Learning Adventures sent through the itinerary, which was packed full for the five-day journey.
It would see us travel through Darwin, Katherine and Kakadu.
Also, being the tail of the wet season, there was a great opportunity to see areas not normally accessible.
Upon arrival, we were straight into a bus. There were 10 of us in all, plus Becky and our always excited and phenomenal guide, Stevo!
These are just some of the highlights. The bombing of Darwin was a significant part of history, and we re-lived this in 4D.
It is evident just how much it affected the people when you talk to them about it.
For example, Mount Bundy Station, which we visited just outside Darwin, provided critical shelter during the war.
Manuel, an Aboriginal man, talked to us about Creation and taught us words in his language for fire, spears and paintings; there are over 700 Aboriginal languages, with many not spoken today.
He also taught us to paint in straight lines, known as x-ray style, specific to northern coastal dwelling Aboriginals; dot paintings are more synonymous with those in the desert.
Later in the trip we saw these on rocks, used to tell stories. We were shown how to light fires in the traditional way, throw spears and play the didgeridoo.
Every Aboriginal person on the trip had a very interesting story, and the impact of settlement is far reaching.
On our way to Katherine, we stopped at a roadhouse with a special variety of pets, including snakes.
We were treated to a hold of a beautiful Woma Python. One of the science teachers was lucky enough to take back the skin of a Diamond Python for her classroom.
Further on, we visited a wildlife sanctuary where we held sugar gliders, a much smaller Northern variety of quoll, and petted very tiny wallabies.
This was an interesting place as they are at the forefront of many breeding and training programs to help deal with cane toads, extinction problems and breeding specific species that can help improve the natural environment.
Into Kakadu, we toured a flood plain full of crocodiles, birds and beautiful plants. We learnt of the many uses of paperbark trees, how to stun fish and the significance of many paintings, stories and landmarks.
The learning throughout was real and powerful.
Most impactful was the realisation that I really have little appreciation for the diversity of flora and fauna in our own backyard; Sea Eagles with 2.1 metre wing spans flying overhead, crocodiles swimming past boats, flowers I have never seen and the incredible impact of the wet and dry seasons.
I have also been inspired to learn more of the Aboriginal culture. It is deep and complex, and we are now able to share this with students, drawing upon our experience to up the engagement factor.
I highly recommend looking to the NT for your next school PD adventure!