From year 10 student, Sam Hall
On 23 October 2017 a group of nine students, myself included, packed our bags and ourselves into the minivan. We would be immersing ourselves in a small town in northern NSW called Walgett, which means ‘the meeting place of two rivers’ in the local Aboriginal language.
Walgett is a town with a population of roughly 2300, a sizeable number of whom are indigenous Australians with extreme disadvantage. I myself, and I’m sure I can speak for my peers when I say this, applied to go to Walgett in order to immerse myself in a place considered to be on the very far edges of our comfortable society.
In the early afternoon on Monday, we arrived after what seemed like an eternity on the road, eager to see the disparity between this obscure town and the city we are all so used to before we checked into the Barwon Inn.
First up next day we went to the local Edmund Rice school. We helped the teachers and kids in everything from maths to spelling and got to know the kids, almost half of which were at the school on Indigenous scholarships.
The next morning we were back at the school again, but this time for a brief explanation of Aboriginal tools, weaponry and various other objects before the guide, known as ‘JB’ by the students, took us around the town and its local Aboriginal sites. Shortly after we visited a farm where we learned about rural life, making a living off goats, sheep and various crops. It was most humbling to see the lifestyle that supports our coddled city life.
On the last day, we went to Lightning Ridge to see the natural hot baths, opal mines and the artistic genius of a local miner who was given free rein to carve his works 20 metres under the sandstone.
The impact of the whole experience for me personally was quite extensive as we all immersed ourselves in the various aspects of life in a rural part of Australia that we seldom think about in our daily lives.