Year 6 Camp 2020: Camp Quaranup, Albany
21 excited Year Sixes arrived at school bright and early last Tuesday morning, looking forward to four days of adventure at Camp Quaranup, Albany, together with Mr Jamie Allinson, Mrs Bradford and Mrs Munns. We were packed and ready to go three minutes ahead of schedule, and waved goodbye as the bus pulled away and headed southwards.
Immediately we got onto the most important task of all; making a Camp playlist. It turned out to be rather an eclectic mix of tunes, with Neil Diamond, the West Coast Eagles team song and Queen all getting the nod. Lach thought he’d cheer up the bus driver with a selection of AC/DC songs, however he obviously wasn’t a fan and slipped on his own headphones.
As we pulled up in Kojonup for a toilet break Logan bolted down the aisle and out of the bus, where he proceeded to hug a power pole and add some organic matter to the soil. Visions of a gastro pandemic flashed before Mrs Munns’s eyes, but fortunately it was just a touch of motion sickness. Phew!
Before we knew it the glistening waters of Princess Royal Harbour greeted us, and we ate lunch and had a run around at Foundation Park. It was time for our first group photo and, as we began to assemble ourselves in the lower branches of a beautiful towering tree, a sickening groan could be heard. No, it wasn’t Logan’s stomach, but the branch of the next tree in the row. With a snap it plunged to the ground, narrowly missing Marley. It was actually quite a distance away but, like any good fishing story, the tale has been exaggerated slightly over time!
The Museum of the Great Southern was just a quick walk away, and we spent the next few hours learning all about the settlement of Albany and its convict history. We clambered aboard the Brig Amity, attempted to walk in chains and were shown the tools of punishment used on those who didn’t behave.
Upon arriving at the beautiful location of Camp Quaranup we were swarmed - not by camp staff, but by the biggest march flies you’ve ever seen. Our orientation chat with camp director Paul was punctuated by slaps and swats, and we were happy to see that they hadn’t made their way into our dorms. After selecting our beds and stashing our gear we headed off for a session of geocaching. It was a great way to familiarise ourselves with our surrounds, with some being better at using the GPS to find the hidden words than others.
Dinner was a delicious meal of honey soy chicken, followed by ice-cream … and then followed by dishes. Once the chores were taken care of we teamed up for ‘Minute to Win It’ and spent the evening sucking up Skittles, blowing bubbles, shaking our booties, shooting lackies and twirling streamers. Still full of beans some of the boys decided that it was pillow fight time and proceeded to take aim out on the lawn wearing … not much actually! Luckily the girls were in the other wing and were saved from the trauma. Things weren’t quiet down their end either, with a fair bit of chit chat and laughing going on. They got the fright of their lives when a head poked through the window telling them to shush, and Mrs Bradford pulled up a chair and read her book until only soft snores were heard. By this time Mrs Munns was regretting leaving the cat o’nine tails behind at the museum, and a few ‘too happy campers’ found themselves in new beds for the night.
Grey clouds and drizzle greeted us when we woke on Wednesday morning, and we were thankful that our day’s activities were indoor ones. First up was Ninja at the home of the ‘Tradie Ninja’ from the Australian Ninja TV show. Unfortunately he has a day job and was off being a tradie somewhere, so it was up to Ninja hopeful, Steve, to show us the ropes … and the wall, monkey bars and lots of other ninja obstacles with strange names. It soon became apparent who the monkeys were, with some skittering up, down and across obstacles with ease, while others persisted for what seemed like hours until they conquered them. Others grabbed some sticks and played a round on what must be the most difficult mini golf course in the country. Although a few Happy Gilmore moments resulted, it was a great challenge - perhaps even more challenging than the ninja course. Meanwhile the little ninjas were getting tired and we finished the session off with a tug-o-war between Jamie and a few hopeless hopefuls.
We headed off to Eyre Park for lunch and thankfully the drizzle had disappeared. As we ate our rolls we eyed off the flying fox nearby and could hardly wait to get on it. Meanwhile a seagull was eying off Mrs Munns’s roll and pounced the moment she put it down to get the water cooler! Soon it was flying fox time and, would you believe it, up drove a truck with a load of mulch to be spread beneath it! The local council workers were happy to oblige though and, after a quick swoosh with a rake, left us to finish the job with out feet. With extra muscle power on the pushing we all had the flight (or fright) of our lives, and only hopped off when the adults couldn’t push any more.
After a quick walk down to the Middleton Beach jetty we headed to the ANZAC Centre, where we were each given the mission of following the story of an ANZAC as we made our way around the displays. Some of our soldiers made it, while others were not so fortunate, and it was quite a sobering visit. Scott impressed our own guide, and some of the visiting public, with his comprehensive knowledge of World War One and could have quite easily gone on the payroll. Outside we enjoyed looking at the artillery before heading off for a walk in the direction of the tunnels. Somehow we got lost and instead discovered a fort in the bush and numerous skinks along the track.
Back at Camp Q we decided to explore the beach and headed down for a ‘paddle’ and some starfish hunting. Of course we all know what happens when someone deals the first splash, and it didn’t take long before everyone was totally saturated and having the best time ever! Alas, it was time to head back and everyone bolted through the boggy seaweed and back up the hill towards a much needed shower and dinner. Dessert of apple crumble and ice-cream was enjoyed by everyone, although some more than others, with three helpings being the record. “I don’t know what this is but it’s really good,” was mumbled by the record-holder in between mouthfuls.
Zac from Southern Edge Arts appeared after dinner for a circus skills session. The longest, most intense warm up on earth resulted in some bruised and battered kids before we moved on to skipping, juggling, plate spinning and gymnastics. Mrs Bradford juggled ice packs and band-aids, and the ‘rest-chair’ was in constant rotation. We definitely had the circus clowns covered, with a certain duo providing us with plenty of entertainment. It looked as though Zac was going to go all night, but the ninja-ed bodies were starting to feel the strain, so we wound things up and headed to bed. No energy left for chatting tonight!
Thursday dawned bright and sunny, with a few earlybirds enjoying a walk before breakfast in an attempt to ease the aches and pains from the previous day. Seeing as we only had a quick trip down the road to our first activity we had plenty of time to take on board yesterday’s tips from the judges and make sure that everything was ship-shape for the ‘Tidiest Dorm’ competition. Cole had actually been cleaning since sun-up, determined not to repeat the ‘toothpaste on the mirror’ tragedy that had previously cost Eclipse Dorm half a point, and the place was sparkling. The girls in Michaelmas Dorm had been working hard and the beds were precision-smoothed. They’d even prepared a song to woo the judges and distract them from any beach sand that they might’ve missed sweeping up, but there was no need to worry - they’d done a great job. The Gull Dorm boys were determined to take the points for the second day in a row. Upon entry Deegan and Fletcher presented Mrs Munns with freshly picked bouquets of bougainvillea, and the odour of Eau de Lynx ensured that the place was smelling sweet (thanks Jamie). The boys stood to attention at the ends of their beds before marching to a ‘shrine’ decorated with their ANZAC soldier cards and more bougainvillea. Apologies to the Camp Q gardener. Unfortunately for them they’d spent too much time on their floral arrangements and not enough on the hospital corners, with the girls being the day’s winners.
The Whaling Station was our destination for the morning and we found it quite an interesting place. Amongst all of the whaling history the mystery of the shipwreck off Camp Q’s beach was also solved, and we discovered that it was once a whaling ship that blew across the harbour during a storm and ran aground. We donned our 3D glasses for a movie and clambered all over another ship, this time the Cheynes 2, before having morning tea and heading back to camp. Ahead of schedule yet again, we had some time to fill before lunch so some of us chose to check out the sensation rope trail, which involved following a rope trail through the bush blindfolded (or with your hat over your face if you were blindfold-less like us.) Henry did his best woodpecker impression, headbutting a tree and making quite a noise in the process.
After lunch we donned our bathers, rashies and shoes and then split into two groups for either rafting or archery. The first group discovered that archery is not as easy as it looks, with Caitlyn being the only one to hit a bullseye. Soon it was time to swap over and everyone slid into lifejackets and received a crash course in paddling. Once on the water we discovered that canoeing is another activity that isn’t as easy as it looks, with rocks being crashed into and Steve yelling instructions left, right and centre. Somehow we all managed to paddle into a raft formation and people took it in turns to attempt the challenge of walking around the outside of all the canoes without falling in. Needless to say there were quite a few wet clothes after this experience, and quite a few scrapes and bruises from being hauled back into the canoes.
Showers were welcomed and soon it was time for a delicious roast dinner followed by peach cobbler. Movie night was put on hold, seeing as the screen was locked behind a storeroom door, and a game of Spotlight was planned, with the adults’ phones being used as torches before it was discovered that Rowan and Lily actually had proper torches! Paul arrived not long after and unlocked the storeroom which meant that movie night was back on. We all celebrated, but none more so than the adults, and curled up with our popcorn and Smarties to watch The Goonies. By this time Mrs Bradford had resorted to offering chocolates to those in Michaelmas Dorm who went to sleep first, and Jamie decided to try and see if his own snores would lull the Gull boys into a slumber. That tactic failed and Mrs Munns relocated a couple of the less-tired ones for the night.
Like any good holiday the morning of our departure was stunning: sunny and still. Fuelled up by a cooked breakfast, we grabbed our swimming gear from the verandah rails and got ready for raft building. Teams worked well to bundle together some drums and pieces of wood, however none of the knots would’ve passed badge inspection at Girl Guides or Scouts. The million dollar question was whether they would hold together long enough to see their passengers keep the torch dry. We lugged our rafts down to the water and took turns at racing another group around Claire on the kayak. Pretty soon the water was a mass of ‘stuff’ floating around, but there were many smiling faces and lots of laughter to be heard. Let’s hope we don’t ever get stranded on a deserted island!
We were told to put our lifejackets away, but our pleading and puppy dog eyes paid off, and we were then told to put them back on and get to the end of the jetty. Woo hoo! This was something that we’d been wanting to do since we arrived and all of us took turns at leaping into the water and swimming back to the ladder. To top it off, a speckled octopus decided to lounge around in the shallows and let us gawk at it for a while and, totally satisfied, we made our way back up to Camp.
The cook saved the best morning tea for our departure and spoilt us with jam and cream scones. We said goodbye to the beautiful view, snakeskin, march flies, skinks and all of our favourite places. Oh, and Lach, who was spending the weekend in Albany with his family. One of us expressed the desire to stay for another two weeks, however none of the adults would be in it. With the playlist cranking we headed off and, before long, a few sets of eyes gradually closed and we settled in for the trip.
It seemed like only minutes later when we arrived at the All Ages Playground in Katanning for our final stop. Mr and Mrs Rowe greeted us with a BBQ full of sausages and we enjoyed those with a juice boxes before having a play. We cooled off with an ice-cream before we were presented with our awards to remind us of the funny, exciting or traumatic (sorry Marley) things that had happened during our time on camp. Then it was time for the big reveal - Who would take out the award for the ‘Tidiest Dorm’? It was a nail biter, but due to some forgotten jocks and a stray toothbrush, Eclipse managed to slip ahead and win the crown. Nobody cheered louder than Cole, who was thoroughly deserving of his ‘Home Beautiful’ award. Rumour has it he is still sleeping in his sleeping bag and living out of his backpack in an attempt to keep his bedroom just as tidy! We arrived back in Narrogin happy, exhausted and grateful for a fantastic camp.