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From Milingimbi to Melbourne: NT students depart for historic interstate excursion

Dechlan Brennan -

A group of female high school students are taking part in a 16-day journey from Milingimbi School - of the coast of Arnhem Land - to Melbourne and Sydney.

The 15 students from years 8-12 will make the 3000 kilometre journey to Melbourne, before heading north to Sydney via train.

The historic trip will see students from Milingimbi School participate in an interstate learning and exchange experience for the first time in more than a decade.

Secondary Teacher at Milingimbi School, Mara Macs, said the trip would be an opportunity for the students to experience things they were not always privy to on Milingimbi island.

"This is an incredible opportunity for our students to experience Australian city life, as well as bush camping in Southern Ocean natural ecosystems of Victoria," Ms Marcs said.

"Students will compare shellfish, crabs, octopus, and seaweed from their own regions while also encountering iconic animals and flora from the southern climate".

Ms Marcs said the students would also see native flora and fauna traditionally found in a southern climate, including koalas, seals, mutton birds, seagull rookeries, penguins, Cape Barron geese, southern wallabies and kangaroos, goannas and "Yuin whale stories".

"We are taking both ways learning that we do in Milingimbi, learning through culture and curriculum, and applying those principals to this excursion," she said.

Learning on Country Coordinator, Marcus Vesper, who is also travelling with the group, said the students will immerse themselves in various educational challenges including English and language studies and exploring Indigenous lands and culture.

He said on return to Milingimbi, the students will apply these experiences - including their on country learnings - in the classroom as part of English, maths and science subjects.

"Education has limited use if it is not being applied in practical day to day life, it's crucial that students have the opportunity to experience the world in which they study about, putting that knowledge to use and gaining a greater insight into all the structures that make up modern society," Mr Vesper said.

"Transport systems, business enterprise, hospitality, arts and other sectors are all quite unfamiliar to our students whom some have never left community.

"Experiences like this help to shape our future leaders who will be able to return to community with newfound knowledge and therefore create a greater impact in their immediate communities."

Mr Vesper said he believed the excursions and experiences would be crucial to the students to help them build confidence, as well as nurturing the "capacity of our future leaders to navigate both Indigenous and western worlds".

"We believe in the power of education to shape our future leaders, and this excursion provides a unique opportunity for Indigenous students to experience learning opportunities that most Australian students receive easily," Mr Vesper said.

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