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Outdoor Ed students explore human relationships with Victoria’s Coast


Unit 3 VCE Outdoor and Environmental Studies: Bellarine and Port Phillip Bay

In Weeks 3 and 4 of Term 1, Unit 3 VCE Outdoor and Environmental Studies students travelled to Queenscliff to explore ‘Human Relationships’ with Victoria’s coastline and Port Phillip Bay. Over three days, students participated in a variety of activities to understand how different user groups perceive, interact with and impact the local environment. We camped in caravan parks to explore and discuss how ‘tourism and commercialisation’ have impacted the local environment.

Surfing, sea kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding with Go Ride a Wave allowed students to reflect upon the themes of recreation and tourism in the area. Students got to see first-hand how the environment can become a playground or a challenge for many people, and as a result, severely impacted.

Students participated in conservation activities (weeding and brush matting) with ‘Barwon Coast’ to help stabilise and preserve the sand dunes at Ocean Grove surf beach, this gave them the opportunity to identify a variety of conservation strategies that have been put in place to combat environmental impacts of human interactions.

In addition, a visit to the Marine and Freshwater Discovery Centre gave students an understanding of Victoria’s Marine National Parks system and the importance of Swan Bay as a spawning site for King George Whiting. A fisheries officer spoke to both classes about the primary industry of commercial fishing in Port Phillip Bay, outlining recent changes to the industry to help sustain fish populations and marine wildlife into the future.

A three-hour snorkelling and sightseeing tour with Sea All Dolphin Swims was a trip highlight for many. Swimming with Australian Fur Seals and snorkelling at Popes Eye Marine National Park with colourful fish was an amazing experience. Students (and staff) had the opportunity to be towed by ropes, hang off nets close to the water and jump off the roof of the boat throughout the tour. This activity focussed on the ‘commercialisation’ of Port Phillip Bay, while we also discussed how technology such as wetsuits, flippers, boats, masks and snorkels have changed how, when and where we can snorkel.

Students were lucky enough to catch a variety of fish on a local fishing charter (flat head, squid, snapper, leather jackets) and enjoyed their catch that evening for dinner with a selection of sides from the Queenscliff fish and chip shop.

The experience of visiting the Bellarine has provided students with valuable links to key knowledge and skills expected from participating in this subject, which students can reflect upon in SACs and the end-of-year exam. It was also evident that new friendships were formed, and some great memories were made.