Friday, September 16, 2011

Final junior school camp

The last time camping?
Bus trips...

While the two boys were at primary school, there were at least three opportunities to help out as a parent by staying overnight or two, to help supervise the attendees with the teachers.

The first overnight school camp was at school, junior middle school, either in a class room or the hall, and I have been told, Fun.

The second camp in senior middle junior school was at a adventure park cum farm out in the country, with a lake and flying foxes, things like that. late nights and all that, with the fear that one step out of line, Parents Would Be Called To Collect the Miscreants.

I did not make it to their camps or the gels camp those years. I had the gels to care for, and did not delegate that.

The next school trip was to either the nation's Capital City or to a Gold Ming town Or Two. Alternate years.
I missed the Canberra trips, all three. And the the two earlier Gold Tips.

This year, I was persuaded to attend as a supervising parent too... At this point I should say I disagree with the age mix, the camp being for the two senior grades. But it all turned out well this year... Again. I left #2 child at home- he was turning a magical age where upon he should be old enough to fend for himself for two nights or stay at his grandfathers place

And so it was time for me to go on the gels last camp in primary school.

We left town at 7am in two coaches, and got to the first destination after the pre-requisite many toilet stops... at about midday- a 371km trip. Not bad and on schedule.

Lunch was eaten, and we descended into a gold mine, 61meters deep, one of many levels. The Central Deborah Mine itself is 401 meters deep. Going through some drives we discovered what it was like to carve out the gold bearing quartz with drills (LOUD), see some other working machinery and saw where the miners had meals- the crib rooms. One room was big enough that parties and weddings have been held there! A good place for an 18th where there would be no complaints from the neighbors! The bedrock in the Bendigo area is supposed to be six times harder than concrete! From these types of mines- some up to a thousand or more meters deep, 700 tonnes of gold was retrieved since 1851. At 1800US$ an ounce, 100 oz to 3kg, that's a lot of  money... say about $300,000,000,000 now...  The quartz reefs stretch over an area 20 km north south and 13 km east west, and presently one new decline descends 10km so that super size trucks can take the rock out.

After that there was a talking tram tour of the main streets. For the kids that was a bit boring. Being a place I had studied and later lived, it was strange to see a place that #2 was born, without Tarn being there. The first electric trams started 1903.

After that we headed off to Sovereign Hill where we would be staying for two nights, another hour-plus on the buses, about 120km.

Army-like, the kids were drilled that no misbehavior would be tolerated, and everybody left for their rooms. A cheap but filling roast beef dinner was served up afterwards, I do not think there was much left on the plates!

The kids all settled down well in my area of supervision, and the two adults I shared a room with settled in to watch a Craig Ferguson (a repeat due to the US open- which Australian Sam Stouser won! see this). Of course, of my new friends, one snored. A little...

Breakfast the next day was at 8:30am! Great, a slight sleep-in, and after brekky it was off to explore Ballarat's famous Sovereign Hill, a recreation of the gold rush days of 1851 to 1861. A key-carded door let us in at precisely 10am, not before. My designated group of ten preteeners wanted to lit off for some exploring, eight girls and two boys, and the first port of call they wanted to descend on was the Lolly Shop or Candy Store,- Oh NO they were not- we had an itinerary, so we followed it!

We explored another shallow mine a self guided tour with a voice over trying to show how hard life was back in gold rush times, 1851. The tunnels were different from Central Deborah because here, the miners dug down through or in from the edge of basalt that had filled ancient valleys and covered gold bearing gravels and sands in the creeks. The danger then was water rushing in from old deep leads and drowning the miners. On the surface, the gold was easily panned from the creek, and after the mine tour, that is what we tried our hand at- gold-panning! Later they all tried the diggers style of Ten pin Bowling, probably imported from the States? Then there was a lecture on living back then, and some dress ups.

Between the lolly  hunting and gold panning there was a few other things to do. like watching a 100troy ounce bar of gold being poured...

The establishment has a modified creek running through it, and each week, they toss in some gold dust and let the public try to pan it out- about $1000 dollars worth- and collectively we, the school, would have found about a tenth of a teaspoon worth... It was not hard to see the specks once you found it, but some kids just did not get it, the panning technique, and ran back to the "store" and bought little glass tubes with some gold in it. Then they knew what to look for...

That night there was a Sound and Light Show: Blood Under the Southern Cross It was a story [?] of  the first insurrection in Oz over paying monthly gold panning fees to corrupt officials of the colony at the time- diggers versus the police and British Army troops. I think the kids enjoyed it, a special night out. And it was cool, but surprisingly, NOT RAINING!! Later, the kids were in their beds and quickly out of it.

Next day was home via a science museum in the Big Smoke, and it was not that exciting to me- interesting I suppose, and a lecture for 10 year olds- not a Planetarium show, we missed out.

The trip back was 330km, or 4 hrs worth, and we were home in time for dinner with the 16 year old.

Who had to go out to a job... I am a bit sad about that. The first time we have not sat down for a birthday  cake at home in 19 years- so I will have to make up for it this weekend.

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