Com­ing from the Top End to the snow

Mt Buller News - - FRONT PAGE -

THERE is one very ex­cited group of chil­dren about to hit the slopes of Mt Buller - and they are com­ing all the way from Manyal­laluk - North­ern Ter­ri­tory.

Manyal­laluk is a small Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­nity lo­cated roughly 500km south east of Dar­win in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory.

Stephanie Baker is the teacher of grades 3/4/5/6 - and has con­nec­tions with the Mans­field dis­trict.

Stephanie’s mother and fa­ther live in Mans­field and it was Stephanie’s idea to bring her class to visit the snow.

There are a to­tal of 22 stu­dents in the school of which Stephanie teaches 10.

To en­able the chil­dren to make such a long trip Stephanie said they have to raise the money to help the class fly to Mel­bourne to see the snow for the first time.

“Life as an Abo­rig­i­nal child grow­ing up in a re­mote com­mu­nity can be very iso­lat­ing,” Stephanie said.

“The com­mu­nity has no mo­bile phone or tele­vi­sion re­cep­tion and all the wa­ter is pumped from the nat­u­ral spring.

“This kind of iso­la­tion means that my stu­dents have very lit­tle un­der­stand­ing and real life ex­pe­ri­ences out­side the com­mu­nity.

“The idea (for the trip) started be­cause we were learn­ing about igloos, and the kids had never heard of one, so we learnt about ice and snow,” she ex­plained.

“Then we thought it would be a good idea to let them try and see snow.”

Liv­ing in a com­mu­nity where ac- cess to a main road is via a 35-kilo­me­tre stretch of gravel and red dirt, many of the stu­dents will ex­pe­ri­ence air travel and the hus­tle and bus­tle of city life for the first time.

“I know that our trip to Mans­field and Mel­bourne will be a story they will retell for the rest of their lives, and it may also help them to one day ven­ture be­yond their re­mote home so that they might learn skills to en­hance the well-be­ing of those who live in Manyal­laluk and sim­i­lar com­mu­ni­ties.

Manyal­laluk stu­dents are plan­ning a 10 day trip from the July 22 to Au­gust 1.

They will stay in Mans­field at the Bak­ers’ home and travel to Mel­bourne to see an AFL football match, visit the Zoo and the Mu­seum as well as spend­ing time in the snow at Mt Buller.

“All of these ex­pe­ri­ences will be a first for my stu­dents, but the thing they are most ex­cited about is go­ing on a train,” Stephanie said.

Stephanie has called for help in mak­ing even the small­est of dif­fer­ence to the lives of these beau­ti­ful, funny, in­tel­li­gent kids.

“It would be to show them that there is a world out­side their com­mu­nity and that they are a val­ued mem­ber of Aus­tralian so­ci­ety,” Stephanie said.

“In 10 days you could help me plant the seed of pos­si­bil­ity that they have the po­ten­tial to travel, study and one day maybe even learn to ski.

“These stu­dents de­serve the op­por­tu­nity to ex­pe­ri­ence the won­ders of their own coun­try,” Stephanie said.

For more in­for­ma­tion about sup­port­ing the stu­dents on their snow ad­ven­ture, email stephanie.baker@

PHOTO: Cour­tesy Fair­fax Media - Lyn­don Keane

TRAV­EL­LING SOUTH: Manyal­laluk stu­dents swap school for snow.

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