{dorrigo excursion}

As part of our homeschool programs, I’m always on the hunt for fun stuff to do to enrich our learning or to add extra experiences. Yesterday, in search of these experiences, the alarm went off at 4.45am, and 45 minutes later I was pouring four sleepy children into the car and hitting the road for a day of learning and exploring.

The sun was barely visible as we headed eastward towards Dorrigo. The now ever present smoke was still clinging to the horizon, and in places was even joined by mist as we made our way across the ranges. After a rush of hot days, it was surprisingly cool, enough to raise goosebumps when we had to jump out for a couple of tummy comfort breaks.

Our second visit to Cascade educational centre, it made for an early start, but is always such a good day that it’s worth the effort. It was something we considered when discussing homeschooling before we started, and part of our decision making was committing to travel where required for interesting and engaging programs.

Yesterday was as full day program, in two parts – a bug hunt followed by an active afternoon of climbing and exploring and playing on the low ropes course. Our bug hunt saw us taking a Bush walk into the rainforest, along the old logging railway track and down into the valley to the creek. Once there, the children got to fish around in the various waterholes with their nets, ostensibly in search of bugs, but in practice it became more about who could catch the most tadpoles. Because of easily transfereable frog fungi (who knew there was such a thing?) we had to leave the tadpoles behind, but still managed quite the haul of bugs to pop under the magnifier back in the classroom to investigate and identify.

It was such a lovely walk down along the defunct railway, soaking in the forest sights and smells, and counting the birds we saw along the way. The creek we were hunting in is very low compared to it’s usual bubbling flow, which gave lots of opportunity to chat about the sensitivity and survival of water-dwelling bugs, as well as on the way home, relative rainfall and how different areas would have different definitions of what a dry season is. And even though Dorrigo is dry for them – holy moly was it ever so nice to see rolling green paddocks! It’s been far too long since we have last been for a rainforest-bushwalk, so me being my usual delightful self, made the most of the couple of pockets of phone reception to text some photos of the glorious scenery back to the poor office-bound husband. Aren’t I so very kind and considerate??

The second part of the day of was all about team work and trust. The kids split out into three groups, and learnt how to safely spot and support a team mate as they made their way through the low ropes course, before donning helmets and heading back into the forest to tackle the ropes. Lots of giggles, lots of balancing skills practiced, and a lovely way to finish off the day.

We were the ring ins for the day, the only ones from our local homeschool group, with the rest of the day’s group made up with the Armidale homeschoolers. And it was interesting, considering how the number on question I get is “what about socialisation”, how my crew could rock on up to the group, complete with established friendships, and just slot in nicely. Miss9, especially, found a bosom buddy for the day, and in true-to-her form, did not draw breath all day! Mr11 also managed to find himself a couple of play mates and just fitted in nicely. What about socialisation indeed? Apparently they can manage it just fine all on their own!

November is starting to rapidly fill up with homeschool events as well, so I’m not sure the socialisation thing is much of a concern at all…heck, sometimes it would be nice if they would choose to not socialise quite so much so I could have a wee break from playing mum’s taxi!

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