Gondwanaland Rainforest School Excursion at Queen Mary Falls
13 November 2014
At the beginning of November, the Year 5, 6 and 7 students at Killarney State School were engaged in a fun day of learning about the diversity and interrelationships between the native plants and animals found in their backyard at the beautiful location of Queen Mary Falls. The Condamine Alliance has a proud history of connecting with Killarney's young people on key environmental issues and values the effort that the students and teachers at the school put in to making everything a success.
We felt privileged to be invited by the Condamine Alliance to be a part of the journey with the students and teachers. Darren and Bruce provided insight on the day into the unique landscapes and biota found in the upper Condamine Catchment which is located in the headwaters of the Murray-Darling Basin. Our walk around the Queen Mary Falls Circuit Track was the best class room we have seen! Getting outdoors and hands-on always helps to create dynamic interactions with the students and the natural environment. We were on hand to prompt the students and answer their many questions.
The students wanted to learn and they often excitedly asked important questions and had discussion about a lot of things including the origins of the Gondwana Rainforests and its links to South America and Antartica. Did you know that marsupials which dominate the Australian wildlife also have living relatives in South America today? Similarly, our native freshwater turtles have close relatives in the South American continent. The Hoop Pine is also a relic from a long gone era in the Earth's history. These, and many other examples, provide tactile evidence of past evolutionary links to the super continent known as Gondwana.
The students were also given a presentation by Barbara Paterson from the Killarney Historic Society on the impact of people on the environment, particularly the river, since European settlement in the Killarney area.
The aims of the day included:
- Understand how we use classification systems and identification keys to help us organise diversity using local examples of plants, animals and communities from Spring Creek, the Condamine River at Killarney and the Gondwana Rainforest World Heritage area which together make a biodiversity hotspot
- Understand the different relationships between local plants and animals and human activities, and how these interactions shape the structure and health of communities and ecosystems
- Meet the local native fish and other plants and animals that live in Spring Creek, the Condamine River at Killarney and the Gondwana Rainforest World Heritage area which together make a biodiversity hotspot
- Understand how these plants and animals have adapted to survive in this environment
- Use what they have learned about adaptations to design a Spring Creek Superfish
The Condamine Alliance created a booklet on the plants and animals and was a hit with the students who could then mark down which species they saw on the walk. The teachers' feedback was that their journal write ups reflected a very positive learning day.
The students will present their results at the end of year River Health Exhibition to the teachers and parents.
It was a great day out with Killarney State School and the Condamine Alliance.