Sunday, 19 June 2011

Bound for Botany Bay

I spent two days this week as a parent helper on a Year 4 Australian History excursion to Sydney. What a great time we had! Well, it was great once we'd survived the bus-sickness chain-reaction vomiting on the trip down! Our first stop was the Old Schoolhouse at Rouse Hill, on Sydney's outskirts. It was built in 1888, and has recently been restored and opened as a hands-on exhibit of early Australian education. 
It afforded a fun opportunity for the kids to dress up and step back in time.
Back to a time when boys dipped their hats, girls curtsied and all children were silent and straight-backed!
To a time when lessons were written on slates, or with nib pens and ink. And if you stepped out of line, the cane was liberally dispensed. Our modern day children were suitably horrified and fascinated!
As if they knew I was coming, one of the activities was a lesson in the 'sewing room'! It was special to see the boys taking to the hand-stitching with relish & boisterous enthusiasm.
There was a wonderful original reference sampler, partially stitched on the wall.
Of course, I was drawn to the botanical designs!
The highlight of the trip for me was visiting the Royal Botanic Gardens. We had wonderful, knowledgeable guides, who talked us through the indigenous and settlement history of the Gardens. And pointed out trees with excellent 'boomerang potential'!
We also went to Hyde Park Barracks, a world heritage listed convict site built to accommodate convict men and boys. It was designed by architect Francis Greenway, himself a convict transported for forgery. He was responsible for many of the significant early colonial buildings in Australia.
The students were particularly excited about trying out the sleeping accomodation - a closely strung succession of hammocks, barely wide or long enough to sleep an adult.
Wandering through this historic and very beautiful part of Sydney with the students was such a treat. 

I spent my University years in Sydney, but never seemed to make the time to appreciate the wondrous history that was on my doorstep.
On our way back home, the bus driver took us over the Harbour Bridge. One of the girls next to me started jumping up and down in her seat excitedly, her eyes sparkling - this was her very first time on the Bridge. Witnessing her genuine joy was so lovely!
The excursion left me with a sense of how privileged our children are, with how well Australia is conserving its history, and how teachers are worth a lot more money!!


  1. What a fun excursion! The first picture looks like a scene from Picnic at Hanging Rock.

  2. Thanks for the history lesson! And isn't it just fantastic that some people can see the value of old things until we grow up and open our eyes to the interest and wonder around us....

  3. What a wonderful and interesting post.
    I just love the row of hanging pinafores, so sweet
    j x

  4. What a cool excursion. That old school museum sounds awesome. And yes, we definitely don't pay teachers what they are worth. It's interesting who our society decides is worth money and who isn't.

  5. That looks fantastic, such a great way for kids to learn, they'll remember that trip for ages. Love the fact they get to dress up too, so cool.
    It is sad how we pay footballers more than school teachers. And don't get me started on actors. Sheesh, some of them should pay us to watch what they produce.

  6. That is amazing that the children got to wear the clothes, sit in the desks, rest in the hammocks. Here in the US all those things would be behind glass or velvet ropes & no one would be able to touch anything.

    How lucky they & you got to experience that. Thank you for sharing a bit of Australia's history!

  7. As a teacher myself- thanks for the compliment! You look like you had a wonderful time- all seen through the eyes of a child! Thanks for sharing! (oops... now I do sound like a teacher !! LOL!)

  8. thank you for this post, it brought back so many memories for me. I lived in Sydney for 3 years with my husband while working for the Hungarian Commercial Consulate, and visited all these places, some of them more than once - it was lovely to re-live our days in this wonderful city. my favourite was the photo of the bridge which we crossed numerous times on our way out of or back to the city :-))

  9. What an interesting and educational field trip. It makes me want to come to Australia even more!

  10. Dressing up really got them into the spirit of things. I had never ever thought of boomerangs being made out of branches with 'elbows'!

  11. What a great step back in time. Reminds me of Little House on the Prairie and a trip we did to Lachlan Vintage Village Forbes (just a couple of years ago) :)

  12. The bus trip sounds interesting....hope you didn't succumb to the bug! Looks like a fantastic excursion and I love how you have put the post together. Thanks for sharing. :)

  13. Wonderful day and beautiful post! Oh those wee girls in their smocks - how gorgeous! And you're right about those boys - there is glee pouring out of that photo as they stab their fabric :-) How inspiring is that embroidered alphabet chart - ooooooh possibilities there! But I surely don't envy the vomitting - ugh! It would have been all I could do to stop myself from joining in!!!!

  14. wonderful post.That old school museum sounds awesome. And yes, we definitely don't pay teachers what they are worth. Thanks for sharing.

  15. wonderful post.That old school museum sounds awesome. And yes, we definitely don't pay teachers what they are worth. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Wow what a really fantastic excursion. I love your pics - and well written post - I have a smile on my face and so wish that I could experience it too.
    In prep, my kids were keen for me to volunteer as a parent helper and they loved me for it. Oh dear how times have changed. Now the request for parent helper forms are destroyed before they come home.
    Once again - what a fabulous excursion!!!!!!!!!!
    xo Catherine


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