Students swap country for coastal
Wednesday, 13th March, 2013
By Erica Visser
Last week Broken Hill School of the Air students traded their tractors for surfboards and spent a week enjoying life on the coast.
In a first for the school, 24 students who live on remote properties visited Port Macquarie.
The excursion was initiated by a 16-year-old Port Macquarie life saver, Emma Davidson, who contacted the school a year ago with the idea.
The former Junior Lifesaver of the Year told the Port Macquarie News that she hoped to give the children a life-changing experience.
"Just to see them smile would make me happy," she said.
"My aim is to see every single one of them smiling from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to sleep."
The trip was funded by a number of organisations, including the Broken Hill Rotary Club, which donated $1000, the South BH Rotary Club and the five Port Macquarie Rotary Clubs.
Several businesses and the Broken Hill Y's Men's Club also made contributions.
School of the Air Principal Steve Eason said that the excursion was a great success, despite the 50 hours of travel on the train.
He said that it had been eyeopening for the students, aged nine to 12, many of whom had never swam in the ocean.
"They'd all seen the ocean before but not many had swam in it or had a chance to learn to surf.
"We also did a night in Sydney on the way there and a night on way home.
"The enormous distance between Broken Hill and Port Macquarie wasn't a problem for the wonderful students.
"Their impressive behaviour was not only commented on by the bus drivers and people hosting the activities, but also people walking past observing the group that just had to say something."
Emily and her father, Phil, who is also involved with the surf club, accompanied the students in a number of activities involving ocean safety, such as CPR.
The children also visited attractions, including ten-pin bowling, a reptile park and a guided tour at Sea Acres Rainforest.
Mr Eason said that there had been calls to make the excursion an annual event, although it was likely to be once every three years.
"We're wanting it to be an every three-year thing so we have a new bunch of kids every time."