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“Deeply Dippy”

If you had told me five years ago that I would be driving across the Australian outback, with a Chaplain, in a Ute, listening to Right Said Fred’s, ‘I’m Too Sexy’, I would have said you were mad. But we never know what is around the corner in life.

Last week, I enjoyed a road trip to the Flinders Ranges to support the Year 10 Journey. I spent a day walking with a group from Upalinna, located on the Eastern side of Ikara Wilpena Pound, to Willow Springs. Upalinna means ‘Little Water’ in the Adnyamathana language, for the many springs and the Wilpena creek that snakes its way east through the property. It was uplifting to see the boys out of their usual habitat, packs on backs, embracing not only nature but new challenges and new connections. It was uplifting too to see Carlos and Allen rise to the responsibility of navigating the route for their comrades on the nine-kilometre hike, their leadership supported warmly by Declan and Harvey, and others. It was a group in unity, rambling along gum-lined creeks, spotting Cambrian fossils of 500 million years, a shingleback lizard peeking out from the spinifex, a mob of hyper-vigilant emus in silhouette on a distant Heysen ridge, and, sadly, an injured joey along the roadside – for which an equally sad call had to be made.

For the melted chocolate bananas on the campfire, even the ones that catch the ash; for the stargazing at 2.00am; the device-free, people-free solo time; the breathtaking burnt orange sunrise at Aroona Ruins; for these reasons, as much as for the monotonous morning pack-up, the stinky long-drops (especially the one at Red Plains), and the unwelcome and unseen Golden Orb spiderwebs that stop you in your tracks at twilight. For these, and more, are the reasons why the Year 10 venture is such an important milestone and should be appreciated as the flagship program that it is in the educational journey of a St Peter’s College student. We can wax lyrical about comfort zones and personal growth, and I have no doubt done this before, but I am confident our young men will return changed and for the better. The world and life may be filled with challenges, but both the world and life should be presented to our boys as wonderful things, and both are for exploring.

A huge thank you to our Outdoor Education team for their colossal efforts, deep thought and attentive care in delivering an unrivalled 21-day experience for our students. Thank you too to my road trip buddies in Rev Ben, Mr McRae, Dr Polyak and Mr Robson. As with the students themselves, it was nice to spend some time out of the usual habitat with these fellows too. As we learnt through our most recent reflection on reconciliation, when you walk alongside people, you learn more about them. This idea has become the unofficial theme of our term – in and out of Musters – and this was definitely my experience in the Flinders.

Best regards, as ever,

Marcus Blackburn
Deputy Headmaster / Head of Senior School