a bunch of people with blue safety hats and harnesses on standing against rocksVictoria University’s Outdoor Leadership team has recently completed a series of field teaching experiences to Mt Arapiles/Djurid with our Outdoor Leadership and Outdoor and Environmental Education first year students for their Safety in Natural Environments unit.

COVID and lockdowns has caused disruptions to the delivery of field teaching in 2020. The Arapiles classes were delayed due to the Melbourne lockdowns in the second semester 2020. Our thanks to all our students for being patient and flexible with the delivery of these classes.

For most students it was their first time out to Mt Arapiles/Djurid. This unit enabled students to explore the recreational, community and spiritual value of the Mount. A key conversation of the trip explored the preservation of cultural heritage sites and the changes to land management practices that is occurring across the Djurid and Gariwerd landscapes.

One highlight was the students having an informal competition to climb the hardest grade. One hot afternoon, after a morning of teaching, Steve Bews had set up Template (grade 24) on North Mitre Rock. The students took turns swinging laps on the route with some coming close to sequencing the climb whilst other watched and cheered on in the shade below. Another highlight from was the students embracing a “Tight and Bright” theme day in homage to the tights Wolfgang Gullich wore on his first ascent of Punks in the Gym in 1985.

Student’s came away with a range of learning outcomes, skills and knowledge including understanding how to place traditional protection, managing personal and others safety at height, building top roping rigs and dispatching clients on abseils. All of this on top of enjoying the climbing, bushwalking and abseiling.

The students appreciated the venue, being out immersed in nature again and the design of the program. Many thanks to the hard work of all the staff that contributed to the planning and facilitation of the program.

By Aaron Simson-Woods on behalf of Vic Uni