My Life and Other People's Children

My Life and Other People's Children

A trip to the Whroo Dam

The Whroo Dam is situated about 10kms west of Ultima, and is (or was) a very big dam, perhaps two or three times the size of other Shire dams. Very thick scrub surrounds the dam, and signs of Aboriginal activity had been discovered. These had been carbon-dated by the Aboriginal Education Officer, Doug Nicholls, at the Pioneer Settlement as being at least 40,000 years old!!

There was also a large clay-pan nearby so it was perfect for our planned trip, which involved having three Aboriginal guides help our students build Mia Mia's; teaching the youngsters about tracking bush creatures; bush cooking - onions and potatoes in foil on the campfire as well as 'twist' (dough on a green stick) and orange cakes cooked in orange skins in foil; and, finally, having a Corroboree in which the guides danced, imitating animals to the music of the didgeridoo and sticks. We had three Aboriginal guides with us, Doug Nicholls from Swan Hill, grandson of Sir Douglas Nicholls and one-time champion VFL footballer; Bruce Baxter from Swan Hill, a brilliant interpretive dancer; and a young man from Kerang.

We travelled by bus and the day began by exploring the scrub around the Whroo Dam. The children found searching for signs of Aboriginal carvings fascinating, and tracking an echidna through the lignum difficult! Their next job was to build a shelter or Mia Mia, and not all of them would entice you to sleep over!!

We were coming to the end of a great day so we only had to do the cooking, eating and cleaning up. Everyone enjoyed the campfire and the food, and then Bruce Baxter led us all through the corroboree dance, imitating brolga, dingo, kangaroo and emu.

Several of the students made speeches of appreciation to our guides for coming so far and giving us wonderful tuition on animal tracking, Aboriginal artefacts and history. A couple of other students thanked the parents for all their help, especially Jeannie and Ray Leach who are great stalwarts of our excursions, and were most particular that we leave the site exactly as it was!!