Teachers spend professional development day on the Coorong, Young Environmental Leaders visit too

Peaceful: Teachers perform a pelican dance during a professional development day on the Coorong. Photo: NRM SAMDB.
Peaceful: Teachers perform a pelican dance during a professional development day on the Coorong. Photo: NRM SAMDB.

Teachers and students from across the SA Murray-Darling Basin, South East and Adelaide regions visited Coorong National Park over three days last month to learn about the unique landscape.

Thirty-eight Murraylands and Mallee students involved in the Young Environmental Leaders group attended the forum at Long Point, on the northern lagoon of the Coorong.

The year 5 to 7 students from nine schools around Murray Bridge, the Mallee and Coorong learnt from park rangers about the Coorong's importance and took part in a bush foods walk on which they learned about Ngarrindjeri culture with Rita and Michael Lindsay.

They were also taught some traditional dances which celebrated pelicans.

Two days later, 45 teachers took part in a professional development session at Parnka Point, south of Meningie.

The Linsdays again spoke about their connection to the country and involvement in the new Storm Boy movie.

Natural Resources South East ranger Tim Hartman junior spoke more broadly about the Coorong, including park management, threats and restoration projects.

The teachers then paddled across the lagoon to the Younghusband Peninsula, where they learnt about local bush foods while walking through the dunes.

They then enjoyed a lunch of mulloway burgers with native greens, cooked by Canoe the Coorong.

Natural Resources SA Murray-Darling Basin education officer Angela Breeding said teachers and students alike had raved about the events, with one teacher saying it was the best professional development session she had been to in 18 years.

Another teacher, who lived close to Parnka Point, said even as a local they did not often get the opportunity to kayak across the Coorong, then walk through the dunes via the cocklers' track to the ocean that beckoned beyond.

"This day didn't disappoint," they said.

"In fact, with the bonus of Rita and Michael's welcome to country, this was a truly special experience with the backdrop of the Coorong – just magic!

"Of course, being treated to sample some bush tucker and mulloway with our lunch topped off a great day."

Interest in the Coorong has increased since the release of the new Storm Boy movie, and many teachers said they had incorporated the text and movies into their lessons.

The events were delivered by Natural Resources SA Murray-Darling Basin and Natural Resources South East as part of a program funded by the SA Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board and NRM levies.