Flourishing Friendships and Magical Memories

After a few false starts due to COVID, our St Mark's team finally made it to the Parnngurr Community School. Our School entered into a friendship with Parnngurr Community School a few years ago, and this trip has been in the planning for some time. Parnngurr is an indigenous settlement of the Martu people located 370km east of Newman in the Pilbara area of Western Australia. Martu lands encompass a significant proportion of the Little and Great Sandy Desert. Martu lands also contain the Karlamilyi National Park.

This friendship between our schools aims to engage in a relationship that helps both communities improve their cultural understandings. We want our students to learn about and from each other and grow in their understanding of and empathy for others.

The thirteen Year 9 students and staff had an amazing week where they learnt from the Community Elders and local rangers, experienced three days 'on country' with the Parngurr students and immersed themselves into their culture. This unique experience has enabled the students of both communities to engage with each other with respect, empathy, openness, and curiosity. Not only have they experienced life-changing moments, but they have also made wonderful memories and unique friends in the process.

Here's what our students and staff had to say about this unique experience:

"I loved seeing the Parnngurr students teach our students bush skills like finding bush onions and spear making." - Mr Lehman.

"I enjoyed spending time with the students and seeing how they lived and what family really meant to them." - Tia Leader.

"I enjoyed watching St Mark's students challenge themselves with activities like plucking a bush turkey and eating kangaroo tail, while the Parnngurr students showed their leadership skills." - Mr Blair.

I loved spending time with the kids and forming amazing friendships with them all. I enjoyed spending time with them one on one and learning about their stories individually as well as a community. I used to think it took years to form a strong friendship, but with the Parnngurr students, we did it in a matter of days. - Amelia Copestake.

My heart is absolutely filled with joy after watching these students form strong connections within a matter of hours. They were out of their comfort zone on many occasions but not once did that stop them forming friendships for life and sharing experiences that will stay with them forever. - Mrs Parsons.

"I loved learning from everyone at Parnngurr; the kids were little balls of energy filled with love and fun. I also saw how they lived, it made me feel more grateful for what I have here at my home." -Maddison Hedges.

"I loved the kids we met at Parngurr and will miss them dearly. They were so sweet and full of wonder about our lives and culture as we were of theirs. The games we all played together and the sharing of new experiences are moments I will treasure forever." - Bella Cooper.

"I enjoyed trying all the new foods, learning from all of the Parngurr kids, and listening to the stories they wanted to tell about their life and the different things introduced to us." - Braden Smithson.

"I loved learning from all the Parrngurr kids and especially using the information that they gave me to create different things that they showed us. One of these was how to create a spear and how to use it." - Callum Foley.

"I enjoyed learning about their families and how they all feel connected with each other. I love how their values and life are so different to ours and enjoyed trying the bush food" - Skye Bryant.

"I really loved getting to know the kids and appreciating how strong their community is, as they do everything together and learn from each other. I enjoyed being on country, and I'll always have the red dust to remind me of what a great time we had." – Ruby Spath

“It was amazing to see their knowledge and skills out on country and have that knowledge passed on to our students. The Parnngurr students became teachers as they showed St Mark’s how to forage and prepare food, find water and make spears. It’s an experience no one will forget, and they made some great friends along the way.” - Miss Tutton

We look forward to hosting the Parnngurr Community School later in the year and can't wait to get back there next year!

View our Parnngurr Tour video here.