During the term holidays, we took some of the Lajamanu students on an interstate trip to Kununurra, WA. The idea and motivation behind this trip was to provide outdoor education that encouraged skill building, resilience, endurance, nutrition, a positive outlook on life, group and peer support, relationship strengthening, self-determination, self-esteem building, self-soothing techniques, healthy coping strategies and goal setting.

The Lajamanu mob headed off for Kununurra on the last day of term three for a unique and life enriching five-day canoe adventure on the Ord River. The journey took place in stunning country with warm temperatures. Luckily the Ord River is fed from the bottom of Lake Argyle which makes the water beautifully refreshing. There was lots of swimming every day by all students and staff with many discovering some very creative ways to get back into the canoe mid river in deep water! (Luckily there are only freshwater croc in the river so swimming is safe!).

Each day after a healthy breakfast of either muesli and fruit or Weet-bix, camp was packed up and we would head down the river, each day the six canoes paddled straighter lines than the days before, improving their control of the canoe. Most days there were some very beautiful hikes up side creeks or to hidden swimming holes, thanks to Maka from “Go Wild Adventures” for the hints on where to go and what to look out for.

Lunch each day was on the side of the river in a beautiful, rugged, wild picnic site. Lunch was wraps with salad and either tuna or salami. The preparation of the food alternated each day with either the boys or girl’s groups preparing the lunch for the mob.

Every afternoon, once camp was set up, most the students would head back to the river to try their luck fishing with hand reels. Quite a few catfish and brim were caught and the good-sized fish were added to the amazing dinners cooked up by staff and students.

After the fishing was done and everyone had headed back to camp for cups of tea and some fruit, Sophie from Katherine West Health Board would bring out the art packs for the students to let the open spaces and their creative minds inspire some art as a way to capture moments from the trip in their own way, in their own artbook.

On the final day, the tail wind was strong enough to set up a sail and hang out in a canoe raft while the wind took care of our forward momentum. We were quite pleased to have a tail wind and some very strong rain to cool us all down as we paddled to the Kununurra swim beach. Once we arrived there (it was a 55km paddle), Maka met us with his speed boat and inflatable biscuit for lots of laughter and big smiles as everyone had a go behind the speed boat.

Wanta is looking forward to make this trip a part of the calendar for years to come! During the adventure, students and staff discussed many different issues about the student’s future – whether it was around the camp fire, in the middle of the river while snacking on muesli bars, or whilst packing and unpacking the canoes each day at camp. The concepts raised included goal setting, life options, career pathways and being the best you can be. We created more than just an adventure down the river just as we were hoping to use the river as a way to highlight challenges that young people will face in life. We recognised when students/staff were outside their comfort zone and we would reflect on this over the journey to highlight similar challenges that may happen in their life now and in the future. Not to mention, the experience added so much to the student’s skill base and outdoor knowledge, as well as creating positive memories of achievement and perseverance that they can hold on to while moving forward through their lives.

After the river trip concluded, we all headed up to Lake Argyle for an evening lake cruise with Lake Argyle Cruises. We saw crocodiles, wallabies, Archer fish and catfish and then we ended with a BIG cliff jump and finally a presentation for everyone on completing the journey on a remote beach in the middle of Lake Argyle as the sun set over the lake.

Our Lajamanu Director, Simon Blake – who managed this adventure, says “During the trip, we all had complete separation from the distractions of screens and social media and ate healthy food with minimal to no sugar. With less distractions and a more stable flow of energy, we took advantage of this time to allow the youth to engage, explore and reflect on their experiences and create positive relationships and pathways moving forwards. Thus, opening workable solutions to problems in their life they had not considered before.” He added “ so, congratulations to all the paddlers for finding something inside yourself to get to camp each day under your own power! You are now STRONG!”

Wanta would like to thank all of the staff that attended this trip during their school holidays, ensuring these students an amazing, unforgettable, positive experience they will never forget.