The events of recent months have highlighted just how vulnerable Australia is to bushfires and demonstrated the relevance of Geography and the value of fieldwork.
As a part of their VCE Unit 1 Geography studies, students explore hazards and disasters through the eyes of a geographer. For their fieldwork, the class visited the region of Kinglake where they investigated the causes and impacts of the 2009 Black Saturday Bushfires – one of the most devastating natural disasters in Australia’s history. Bushfires tore through the Kinglake Ranges north-west of Melbourne destroying lives, homes, livelihoods and communities.
Visiting the sites in and around the town of Kinglake gave students a sense of the scale of this disaster. From the local reservoir to the top of Mount Sugarloaf, students used their skills of field sketching and mapping, developed cross-sections and used other forms of data collection to examine the impacts the fires had on both the natural and human environments.
The final stop was at the Kinglake Neighbourhood House where local resident, Brad Quilliam, talked to the class about the social and economic impacts of the fires on the local population and of the response and rebuilding of their town.
The field trip served as a powerful reminder of the bushfire hazard in south-eastern Australia and of the value of geography field work. Not only does fieldwork allow for the personalisation of learning, it is well recognised that a more sensory experience aids memory and meta-cognition. By seeing this region for ourselves we were all able to gain a deeper understanding of the world around us.
Mrs Sherril Gurney
Head of Gipson House