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Outdoor activites

Survivor programs


In groups, students have to challenge the elements and develop real solutions in order to ‘survive’. The 'Survivor' program encompasses an element of positive competitiveness and requires students to work as a team and engage higher order problem solving skills in order to succeed.


Survivor activity one – Water Survivor


Water is life in the in the outback. In this challenge students will learn to find and collect water in the bush. Students will learn about the great artesian water basin and will have to use makeshift materials to harvest food from the artesian water. Although water is often scarce, during floods dry riverbeds can become raging torrents, and students will have to work together to build rafts to survive the summer floods. Which group will be the most resourceful? Which group will die of thirst? The winners of this challenge will not only survive. They will be the first to jump in the water at the end-of-activity swim.




Survivor activity two – Location Survivor


If you have a vehicle which has broken down, you are in the middle of nowhere, and your compass is broken, what do you do? How will you attract help or get yourself back on track? In this challenge the students will learn about low-technology long-range signalling as well as how to determine one's direction of travel without a compass. Students will also learn navigation and orienteering skills to avert a survival situation utilising a compass to navigate an orienteering quiz track. The winners of this challenge will not only survive, but make it back to the comfort of the buildings first.


Survivor activity three – Shelter, food and fire Survivor


How will your group survive the outback elements without the necessities we take for granted? Students will look at traditional shelters and how to shelter themselves from the elements bush style. While days in the outback get mighty hot, the desert nights can get mighty cold, so students will plan, and construct their own shelter with limited materials out bush. After that, students will learn to build a fire without the aid of matches or a lighter. Friction fires, fire steels, and focused sun light must all be mastered before you can beat the elements and settle in for some old-style camp cooking. What about other food? Students will have to identify edible plants and learn how to track if they are going to fill their bellies. The winners of this challenge will not only survive, but will be the first to get their tucker that night.


Survivor activity four – Survivor stories


How will your students tell their outback survivor stories? The challenge is for students to explore the many different ways of making meaning of their experiences while in the bush and recording them to share with others. Students will explore a variety of mediums which can be used to record stories: dance and drama, songs and poetry, paintings, the written word, videos, photographs, and presentations. The winner of this challenge will not only survive, but also have a great record of all they have done while at the Wanpa-rda Matilda Outback Education Centre.

Standalone activities


Australian Workers Heritage Centre - Quiz Tour


Students will take a circuit through the centre and utilise their map reading skills as they locate the answers to the quiz tour questions. The Australian Workers' Heritage Centre is the custodian of the rich heritage, history and traditions of all working Australians. Railway workers, blacksmiths, farmers and factory workers, mothers, nurses, teachers and nuns – the centre pays tribute to the lives of these ordinary people who built a nation.

Opened in 1991 this museum style complex is sited in the grounds of the former Barcaldine State School. Many of the original structures have been reinvented into exhibition space. Other historic work places of yester-year, including a one teacher school, an Australian Workers' Union shearers hall, police watch-house and railway station, have been relocated to the centre from throughout Queensland. Within these unique spaces the stories of Australia’s working history come to life through objects, art and multi-media presentations.

The centre has been designed with the weary traveller in mind. Beautifully landscaped gardens and shady trees surround a sparkling billabong creating a cool outback oasis – relaxed, tranquil and irresistibly beckoning.

Time: 1½ – 2½ hours.


Raft building (Also included as part of Survivor activities)


As an individual activity or as part of the 'Water survivor' activity, students simulate the experience of building a raft to travel down the waterway to safety. Building a raft is a simple concept but not such an easy skill to master. Raft building requires higher order thinking, detailed planning, advanced knots/lashings, and above all, teamwork. Conducted in the safety of the patrolled Barcaldine aquatic centre, a clear clean pool will simulate a river environment while capped PVC piping substitutes for natural materials. After construction it’s time to put our raft building skills to the ultimate test, by outsmarting, outbuilding, and outracing your classmates. This is the ideal clean and safe way to master the skills of raft building so you can get out alive.

Time: 2 – 2 ½ hours.


Bush tucker walk (Also included as part of Survivor activities)


Students will travel to a botanical walk approximately 15 minutes from Barcaldine, to take part in a nature walk, which foregrounds a wide variety of flora and fauna, including bush foods and medicines. Students will be provided with a field guide of the useful plants in this area, as well as information on tracks and scats of animals that frequent the area. Students will learn important safety skills to ensure a safe bush walk experience and will discuss differences between this environment and the environment in which they live. This walk is also offered as part of the 'Survivor' activities.

Time: 2 hours.


Introduction to orienteering ( Also included as part of Survivor activities)

Learning to properly navigate is an important skill in a survival situation and may even play a role in averting a survival situation. Students learn to use a compass coupled with basic orienteering techniques as well as how to find their bearings bush style. Students will then complete a short course within the grounds of the Australian Workers' Heritage Centre, putting their newly learnt skills into practice. 

Time: 2 hours.


Bush games


Before video games, children and adults alike entertained themselves with limited materials and limitless imagination. Learn how to play the fun and exciting games grandpa and grandma may have played as children.

Time: 1 – 1 ½ hours.


Leadership and team building activities


Students in upper primary school are often expected to take on a leadership role within the school. Furthermore, students will soon be moving on to high school, where they face a range of new challenges, social interactions and responsibilities. Most students need to be explicitly taught good teamwork, communication, and leadership skills. Students also need the opportunity to practice these skills in a supportive, challenging and fun environment. In today’s information society, the ability to communicate and interact well with others is vital.

Students will take part in a variety of leadership and team building activities that will assist them to take on the roles and responsibilities of being in upper primary and lower high school. Public speaking, conflict resolution skills, and debating activities can also be conducted.

This activity is usually scheduled early on in the itinerary and will compliment and scaffold the extensive range of team based activities available on your Wanpa-rda camp. ‘Team Building and Leadership Activities’ consists of several short activities that are specifically designed to give students an opportunity to explore and practice the key factors; Participate, Share, Help, Listen, Respect, Question and Persuade. Students will be working in their tribes to practice effectively leading and working within a team.

Time: 1 ½ - 2 hours.


Catching crawchies


Students will learn about the habits and habitats of crawchies in the artesian channel tudents will have the opportunity to take part in one of the Outback's favourite activities, 'Crachie Catching'. Cherax Destructor, native to the area, as well as the invasive Cherax Quadricarinatus will be the targets.

In a survival situation you probably don't have your equipment on hand, so how will you catch the critters so you can enjoy a delicous and nutritios feed?

Students will learn about the habits and habitats of crawchies in the artesian channel country, along with an introduction to trapping. In their tribes students will then be challenged to build their own crawchie traps utilising the materials provided and put them to the test in the onsite artesian billabong at the Australian Workers' Heritage Centre.

Time: 2 - 3 hours.


Democracy in Australia


Students will learn how democracy developed in Australia, and how our country is governed. Students will be able to sit in a mock parliament, and through role plays, learn the basics of how politics operates in Australia. Through this activity, students will gain a better understanding of how and why decisions are made that ultimately affect the lives of all Australian citizens. This activity is most appropriate for students in years 7-10.

Time: half day.


AWHC Quiz Tour / Tree of Knowledge Monument Visit


Students will undertake a quiz tour of the Australian Workers Heritage Centre; where students are challenged to seek out the answers to their quiz booklets from exhibits which inform of the history of the Great Shearers’ Strike of 1891, the symbolism of the “Tree of Knowledge” and where the story of Australia’s worker democracy is told. Students will then further enhance their journey of discovery of this rich watershed of history that took place in our region with a visit to the TOK monument site.

Time: 2 Hours     



For thousands of years Indigenous Australians utilised spears thrown skilfully by a woomera, sometimes over great distances, to hunt larger game. Spear throwing tools were also used extensively on other continents by other indigenous cultures, notably throughout Europe and the Americas where the Atlatl (spear thrower) was used to throw long darts rather than spears. In this activity students will have an opportunity to hurl darts over long distances and at closer targets to get an appreciation of the skill required to feed the tribe with primitive equipment. The darts differ from the spears functionally, in that they are lighter and the flights keep the spears travelling point forward to ensure a better chance of sticking the target.  

Time: 1½ – 2½ hours.

Traditional Skills Workshop


Students will gather in the shade to see how important tools and skills were used to achieve the daily requirements to live in a traditional lifestyle. Hunting skills and techniques, fire by friction and making rope are all demonstrated for the students. Time permitting, some students will be selected to participate in each of the demonstrations and report their finding to the class.

Time: 1½ – 2½ hours.

Heritage Tour-(utilising client’s bus)(Approx.300 km round trip)

Students will learn about both pre-settlement indigenous practices in Queensland’s outback, as well as the practices and struggles of early settlement in the west. Students will embark on a journey that will take them to see significant indigenous and nonindigenous historical sites hidden by isolation but not forgotten. Sites include Gray Rock (containing thousands of post settlement carved ‘signatures’ dating back to 1871), Cobb & Co Cutting, Horsetailor’s Gorge, and ochre pits containing rich yellow, purple and pure white ochre. Enjoy the dessert uplands flora and fauna atop the jump-up that is abruptly contrasted from the channel country below, as you take a trip back in history to a time when we didn’t have the luxuries of an air conditioned coach.

Buses with 21 seats of less may visit Gracevale Caves (Rock Art Gallery).


Old-style movie theatre with canvas seats


The Barcaldine Radio Theatre is an old-style movie theatre located a short walk from the Centre. Enjoy a private screening of a recent release movie, in a beautiful old hall while sitting in old style canvas seats. The theatre first opened in 1926 with silent movies and then sound movies were introduced in 1931. After numerous years of closure the theatre reopened in 1995.

Time: 2 hours.

Campfire & Marshmallows / Survivor Story Presentations


No trip to the outback is complete, without a night sitting under the stars with your mates, sharing stories, jokes, poems and singing songs around a camp fire. Students will enjoy sitting around a memorising gidgee fire, taking the time to reflect on their outback experience before enjoying some marshmallows cooked how you like, over gidgee coals in a safe and hygienic setting. This back drop also provides an ideal opportunity to present survivor story presentations for groups participating in this activity. Under the cover of the night sky and with the intrinsic comfort of a fire, even the most reserved of students tend to become more open to addressing a group, making this activity a fantastic time to practice structured talking in the form of stories, reflections, jokes, poems, songs and games.

- Leadership activities can also be conducted in the evening.

Visit the Tree of Knowledge Monument in the evening, when the lights make for a very spectacular display. You could walk via the Tree of Knowledge monument on the way to or home from your movie night at the Radio Theatre