As part of Riverside ESC's programs on Indigenous Studies and Community Access, students from Rooms 33, 36 & 37 attended an excursion to Pinjarra on Monday November 16. Raising students' awareness of the cultural significance of sites in the Peel region and understanding of Noongar history and cultural practices was the aim of this much enjoyed excursion.
Our group travelled to Pinjarra and first visited Cantwell Park, located beside the main traffic bridge on the banks of the Murray River. Of particular interest were the carved wooden poles that hold images of Aboriginal totems, We learnt about Noongar animal and plant family totems and sketched our own totem pole. This exercise taught us about the significance of plants and animals in Noongar culture and the importance of looking after our natural environment.
After a hair-raising walk across the swing bridge we made our way up to the Memorial and park which commemorate the site of the 1834 Pinjarra Massacre. This place is highly significant for the Noongar people. While there, we discussed what Australia was like pre-settlement and the impact of European settlers on the Noongar people of the Peel region. We discussed the story of a Noongar warrior called Calyute and the lives that were lost when a party of soldiers came early in the morning to raid a Noongar camp. We looked at the reconciliation artwork that surrounds the memorial and took crayon rubbings of the mosaics there.
"Learning about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures allows students to develop respect for diversity and understanding of cultural difference", explained Jessica Rogers, Indigenous Education lecturer at the University of the Sunshine Coast, in a presentation in January 2014.
"We too, believe in the importance of teaching the next generation of children about the rich culture of the Noongar people and we encourage our students to treat people, of all cultures, with respect," said Ailsa Williams, one of the teachers accompanying the excursion.