Far North Queensland Experience
Week 1 Report
The Year 9 Far North Queensland Experience is a cornerstone immersion at Loreto Normanhurst. Now in its 12th year, the FNQ Experience reinforces the broader vision of a Loreto education – an experiential educational experience which fosters a sense of faith, grows community and places the person at the heart of all interactions.
On Sunday morning, 172 students and 23 staff members excitedly arrived at school ready to embark on the experience they had been long preparing for at school and at home. Over the past week they have travelled around Far North Queensland in five colour groups – Blue, Green, Orange, Red and Yellow. Here are some highlights of each group:
- BLUE CASSOWARIES: The week began with a drive up to Cape Tribulation Beach, the home of an infamous sunrise which was the backdrop to a beautiful liturgy on Day 2. In the Daintree and Mossman area, Blue Group experienced the rich culture of the Kuku Yalanji people, the traditional owners of the Mossman Gorge area, as well as life on a working sugar cane farm. The return to Cairns meant the start of two-days of Community Service in primary schools and aged care facilities in the area and in Yarrabah.
- GREEN TURTLES: Green Group started their FNQ Experience in outback Australia at the Undara Experience and enjoyed food by the campfire and a stunning sunset liturgy. Returning to the Atherton Tablelands, Green Group were guided through significant stories of Lake Barrine by Aunty Syb and Uncle Laure, long-time friends of Loreto Normanhurst and the FNQ Experience. Community Service took place in the Tablelands for both days and included work at St Joseph’s Primary School and various aged care and respite facilities in the area.
- ORANGE CLOWNFISH: Orange Group started their FNQ Experience in Cairns. Day 2 meant a trip to Yarrabah and an enriching cultural experience at the Yarrabah Arts and Cultural Centre. Orange Group then headed up to Cape Tribulation via Kuranda, which they accessed via the Cairns SkyRail which provided spectacular views of Cairns and surrounding areas. The experience at the Daintree Rainforest Discovery Centre were a particular highlight for Orange Group.
- RED KANGAROOS: Red Group started their FNQ Experience with two-days of Community Service in Cairns and Yarrabah, including at Yarrabah State Primary School. This was a wonderful experience to see the magnificent work of the teachers and staff and interact with the children in this wonderful community. The day spent at the Kuranda markets was a highlight. Red Group were particularly impressed with the conservation work which is ongoing in the Daintree Rainforest. This was particularly highlighted on the Croc Cruise which students went on Day 6.
- YELLOW CROCODILES: Yellow Group were first Welcomed to Country by Aunty Syb and Uncle Laurie at the Genazzano Retreat Centre before partaking in a rich conversation with them about their life and experiences. Two-days of Community Service followed at St Thomas’ Primary School and a number of aged care and respite centres in the Tablelands. Yellow Group are particularly looking forward to their day exploring the Great Barrier Reef on Sunday.
On behalf of the wider Loreto Normanhurst community I would like to sincerely thank the staff who have generously volunteered to accompany Year 9 on this once in a lifetime experience. While we look forward to our return to Sydney next Friday, we know there is still so much more left to experience in this beautiful part of the world.
Mr Phillip Merchant