Australian Geography Competition

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Geography’s Big Week Out

The 2019 Students

I’m grateful I had the opportunity to attend Geography’s Big Week Out. It was sensational.

Bryant , GBWO22 student

Geography’s Big Week Out is a mix of stimulating and hands-on geography activities, focusing on fieldwork, designed to challenge and extend high-performing senior students. Sixteen students are selected to participate from the Year 11 level of the Competition.

The 2022 Geography’s Big Week Out (GBWO) was held from 3 to 7 July in Darwin and Litchfield National Park. Sixteen Year 11 students from around Australia were invited to participate, based on their outstanding performances in the Australian Geography Competition: 

Student 

School 

State/Territory 

Jamie Blackburn 

Trinity Grammar School 

Victoria 

Jordan Conis 

Citipointe Christian College 

Queensland 

Charlene Du 

Pembroke School

South Australia 

Liam Dufty 

Shenton College 

Western Australia 

Nivedita Gawarikar 

Canberra Grammar School 

Combined Territories 

Michaela Graham 

McKinnon Secondary College 

Victoria 

Ruby Harding 

Roseville College 

New South Wales 

Marcus Len 

Normanhurst Boys High School 

New South Wales 

Thomas Lin 

Canberra Grammar School 

Combined Territories 

Adit Mahidadia 

Sydney Boys High School 

New South Wales 

Michael Reid 

The Friends’ School 

Tasmania 

James Richards 

The Hutchins School 

Tasmania 

Cate Ward 

Loreto College 

Queensland 

Jessica Warren 

Lumen Christi College 

Western Australia 

Bryant Wu 

Glenunga International High School 

South Australia 

Jasmine Ye 

Meriden School 

New South Wales 

GBWO was held in a week when more than half of all domestic flights were delayed or cancelled! However, we managed to get all the students there by midnight and were relieved that we had not planned to travel to Litchfield National Park until the following day. GBWO was held in NAIDOC Week so before leaving Darwin we attended a ceremony to mark the start of the week. 

The NAIDOC week ceremony has been instrumental to my understanding and appreciation of Indigenous Australians and has inspired me to advocate for their livelihoods and recognition more meaningfully within my own community. Jasmine 

Students spent two days carrying out fieldwork in Litchfield National Park. They were investigating whether Litchfield NP was being managed sustainably as a tourist attraction while still maintaining the values of a national park. Activities included: taking various stream measurements to assess popular swimming sites; recording numbers and demographics of visitors; interviewing visitors; mapping tourist infrastructure; and, discussing park values and threats to sustainability with a national park ranger. 

One area of geography which I was able to explore better was measuring stream efficiency and river discharge – something that I had read about in textbooks and memorised formulas for, but had never had the opportunity to conduct in real life. The actual experience of taking stream measurements was far from tedious – the combination of warm air, a cool flowing stream of water and nice company made for an all-around enjoyable experience. Thomas 

The tourist surveys allowed us to learn more about different people’s experiences in the different sites. It also led to some really fulfilling interactions with tourists from all around Australia who were normally more than happy to have a chat with us. Cate 

There was also time for fun activities, such as swimming under waterfalls and a campfire with marshmallows. 

I really appreciated the swimming; it was great to cool off and have fun with everyone else. Jessica 

Returning to Darwin, the students investigated whether Darwin Esplanade and the Waterfront Precinct met the principles of good design for urban public spaces. This involved some of the same activities as the students had carried out in Litchfield NP:  recording numbers and demographics of visitors; interviewing visitors; mapping infrastructure – and experiencing the wave pool first-hand. 

Throughout GBWO students worked in groups, splitting tasks between the groups and then sharing their data and uploading it to a common website. 

On the last day the students sat a test from which we selected the team to represent Australia at the 2023 International Geography Olympiad to be held in Bandung, Indonesia. Congratulations to: 

Marcus Len 

Normanhurst Boys High School 

Thomas Lin 

Canberra Grammar School 

Adit Mahidadia 

Sydney Boys High School 

Jasmine Ye 

Meriden School 

The activities were led by Steve Hawkins and Julie Hearnden, from the Geography and History Teachers’ Association of the Northern Territory, and Shane Albertson and Kath Berg, from the Australian Geography Competition Committee.   

Geography’s Big Week Out and Australia’s participation in the Olympiad are supported by the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment, the University of Melbourne, and the University of New South Wales. 

Students participating in the 2023 Australian Geography Competition will have the chance to represent their state/territory at the next Geography’s Big Week Out and their country at the 2024 International Geography Olympiad in Dublin.  

Geography’s Big Week Out is supported by the Australian Government through the  Department of Education, Skills and Employment. Costs or participating (airfares, accommodation, meals and activities) are met by the organisers.