Local Aboriginal Fish and Eel Traps

This documentary explains how fish and eel traps were made, how they worked, and why they were so important for the Gunditjmara people who lived around Lake Condah (Tae Rak). Year 8 students – Alannah, Kirsty, Molly, Amy and Aimee produced this documentary after time spent researching the topic, visiting Lake Condah and speaking with local  Budj Bim tour guides.

Budj Bim Documentaries

Year 8 students recently researched some of the fascinating history and geography of the region surrounding Budj Bim (aka Mount Eccles).  They studied topographic maps of Lake Condah (Tae Rak) and delved in to a number of information sources (including the wonderful books ‘The People of Budj Bim’ by the Gunditjmara people and Gib Wettenhall, as well as the ‘Field Guide to Cultural Features of the Budj Bim Landscape’ by the Gunditj Mirring Partnership Project).

Students also visited and explored Budj Bim, the Lake Condah Mission and the Tyrendarra Indigenous Protected Area.  Most of the photos shown in the documentaries were taken by Year 8 students during this excursion.

During the excursion, Budj Bim tour guide and Gunditjmara elder Eileen Alberts showed several students the basics of basket-weaving.  A number of students were keen to find out more and Eileen generously agreed to visit the school for a more in-depth basket-weaving workshop with Year 7 and 8 girls and female staff.

The documentaries were an opportunity for students to share some of their newfound knowledge about Budj Bim with the general public.

Basket Weaving with ‘Aunty’ Eileen Alberts

On Wednesday, local Gunditjmara elder Eileen Alberts visited the school to share her eel basket weaving skills with a small group of primary and secondary girls and female staff.   Eileen told of how this traditional skill was almost lost due to fears among indigenous women that passing on such knowledge would result in their children being taken from them by the authorities.  Fortunately, however, these skills were not lost and now a new generation of Hawkesdale girls are among a very select few in the entire world to know some of the basics of eel basket weaving.  One day, they may even pass this knowledge on to their own daughters!

Eileen’s visit was spearheaded by Year 7 students Kiara and Caitlyn, who were very interested in Gunditjmara weaving techniques following an excursion to the Tyrendarra Indigenous Protected Area.  Many thanks to Eileen, as well as Kiara and Caitlyn.

Kurtonitj Tour with staff and students

On 11th October 52 students and four staff went on an excursion to Mt Eccles, Lake Condah Mission and Kurtonitj (which is a better place to see the fish traps and stone houses), ending the Kurtonitj tour at the Bessiebelle Woolsthorpe Rd. Year 8G had been researching indigenous foods, stone houses and the fish and eel traps of our local Kanawinka area. The excursion brought their learning to life.

Hawkesdale is 150 years old in 2011

The small township of Hawkesdale will celebrate 150 years from being first gazetted. Celebrations are now be organised and the committee is seeking photographs and memorabilia for display at this event.

Here is a podcast of a radio  interview from the ABC with AnneMaree Huglin, one of the chief organisers. Please leave comments here if you have questions or could help us out.

Hawkesdale suffers from flooding

After many years of near drought, low rainfall etc, Hawkesdale has finally had heavy downpours of rain. In fact 100 ml of rain has fallen within 12 hours. School buses had to detour, parents had to pick up some students and roads were closed in the flooding that occurred in some areas.

Here is  a sign that is rarely seen on a busy intersection just up the road from where I live. It is the Woolsthorpe-Heywood Road section between Hawkesdale and Woolsthortpe.

detour sign

Australia Day Moyne Shire Awards 2010

Julie receives her award

Julie receives her award

Hawkesdale was proud to celebrate with and publicly acknowledge the efforts of two of its residents at the Moyne Shire Council Australia Day Celebration Tuesday 26 January 2010.

The first community award went to Mrs Julie Bos, who runs the local Post Office. Julie was awarded for her fine efforts and sheer hard voluntary work in many community activities including the following.:-

  •  management, operations and appearance of the local Swimming Pool.
  • management of and fundraising for the local Shire Hall
  • voluntary audit work for local community organisations
  • active role on HADDAC (Hawkesdale and District Development and Action Committee) in the beautiful appearance of our town and Apex Park
  • expanding her post office to also providing basic provisions when the local milk bar closed down.
  • and many other activities

The second award was Junior Citizen Award to Jack Keegan, the Hawkesdale P12 College School Captain of 2009. Jack has been involved in many school and community activities, including the following:-

  •  an awardee of a  gold Duke of Edinburgh medal
  • member of the Moyne Shire Junior  Council
  • Hawkesdale P12 College School Captain 2009
  • Hakwesdale P12 College SRC member
  • School representative at local, district and state level sporting activities
  • Successful member and player for several local sporting clubs
  • Participant in the 444,000 trees project
  • Involvement in the Willatook Hall and Reserve community activities

Congratulations to these two community members! A big thank you to them for their contributions to our community and to all those other unsung community volunteers!

Hawkesdale community members with Julie at the celebrations

Hawkesdale community members with Julie at the celebrations

Ex-student returns to teach and speak at School Investiture

Jason Mirtschin - former student addresses the assembly

Jason Mirtschin - former student addresses the assembly


Students investiture days are proud days for many. Our guest speaker, this year, was a former student who has returned to teach at school after 5 years teaching in London. Here is the speech made to the gathered assembly or prep-12 students, parents, staff and invited guests.

“Firstly I would like to thank the principal, Mr Distel for allowing me to speak today at such an important occasion us here at Hawkesdale P-12. I still remember sitting here – similar to you, listening to other guest speakers come in and talk, but especially I remember the times when we had past pupils come in and share their experiences. It was these times that I listened  the most – I liked thinking that they were just like me. That these people had been given the same opportunities as me.  And I would sit and wonder what I would do when my turn came around.

So I’ve thought long and hard about a theme for my talk today and have decided that it is that one word ‘opportunity’ that I would like to focus on.  After all, it is the main reason why we are gathered here today. To celebrate the opportunity that a small number of pupils have been given to act as ambassadors, to help create school spirit and proceed as role models for younger pupils.

I’ve remembered a lot about my youth since returning to Hawkesdale. A lot of people have asked if anything has changed – and on the whole I would have to say no. People still come in talking about their summer staying in Port Fairy or Warrnambool, what they got up to at the folk festival, how their pre-season is going for football and netball and which person is having a party next weekend.

But a lot of important things to the district were changing at the time I was leaving here to go to university in Melbourne. The football club had merged with Macarthur, the Minimite shire offices had closed, the school had become a P-12 , the scouts were struggling for numbers and a few of the other small businesses were looking like closing. Which makes me think – how different would my life be today if I hadn’t have grown up in a community such as this one. I’m not sure that I would be as confident as I am today without them or whether I would be prepared to take the risks that I do today. The majority of us here should be grateful that our parents work so hard to ensure that these opportunities are not lost from the community.  For without them I would not have been captain of the football and cricket teams, vice captain of the school or …..

So like some of you are or will be – I took physics with Mr Wines, Chemistry with Mrs Webster, Maths methods with Mr Quinlin, Specialist maths with Mr Hillman and English with Mr Jarrod. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do at the end of year 12 but I was always encouraged to go to university. I wasn’t dux of my year at any point but my parents said that it was important that I got a qualification from university and that a number of doors would be opened if I did this. Any time I tell people that my average class size in year 12 was about 4 people I get some strange looks. But the individual attention you get means that the opportunity of success is increased dramatically.

So after I completed my schooling here I studied science at Melbourne University and was offered a place to stay on residence at St Hildas college. I highly recommend this experience if you get the chance to – most of my best friends were made while living there. I graduated after 3 years and still didn’t quite know what to do next. I decided that at some point I would like to travel and thought about the possible careers that would allow me to do this.So I enrolled in a one year diploma of education and then taught in Melbourne for 3 years to get some experience.

I then decided it was time to experience life in another country and took 1 years leave without pay from my school in Melbourne. I tossed up whether to go somewhere different like China or Dubai but had heard a lot of great things from my friends about living in London. So I decided to go to the UK to experience a different lifestyle. And five years later – I still feel that I could stay indefinetly in the UK or another country. Why? I could talk for days about the things I have been given the opportunity to do over the past 5 years alone but perhaps I will just mention a few things from the month leading up to when I left the UK at Christmas. The number of bands that tour London is incredible – I saw Kings of Leon and Coldplay in December, went away for the weekend with some mates from work to a country in eastern Europe called Poland to see the Christmas markets there, I went and watched the Lion King in the West End, I stayed in a village with the dramatic ruins of a castle built 600 years ago, I went ice-skating by the Thames in front of London Bridge and had some lovely meals at Spanish, Greek and Indian restaurants. All in one month!

If someone had of told me 10 years ago that I would be doing some of these things I probably wouldn’t have believed them. But each opportunity that I have been given has led to another opportunity later on in life.

I’ve seen and done a lot of amazing things in this time. I attended the last soccer world cup in Germany and watched Australia play Brazil, I took a train through Russia, Mongolia and ended up in China to see the Olympic games, I’ve taken a camel ride in the desert in Tunisia – Northern Africa, I’ve raced down a slope on a bobsled at 200km per hour in Estonia in Eastern Europe, I’ve visited medieval cities like Prague in the Czech republic and sat in the town square at night while it snows around me, I’ve seen ruins from ancient times in Italy and Greece, I’ve stood on battle fields and concentration camps from world wars where 1000s of people were being eliminated each day, but more importantly, I’ve made new friends with people all over the world.

I always get a lot of people coming up and asking about what I have been doing for  the past 10 years. But probably the question I get asked the most these days is ‘what am I going to do next? I know what I’d like to do – such as learn another language, keep travelling  to new places, share past experiences with people I care about, perhaps learn to play the piano better…. But I’ve started to ask people that same question ‘what are you going to do next? Too often the reply is ‘I guess the same thing I have always been doing’ or ‘I don’t know – I wish I could do something like you but I don’t think I can’. And maybe if I pause for a moment – that is something that you should think ask yourself about. What opportunities are there going to be for you? Do you want to get 10 years down the track and think ‘I wonder what would have happened if I had of just…’ Maybe that is a good place for me to finish today.

So, let me also pass on my congratulations to everyone who has been elected today. I hope that you take this opportunity seriously and use it as a chance to make a positive contribution.”

Thank you for your attention and all the best for the future.


Our junior captains 2009

Our junior captains 2009



Our whole school assembly

Our whole school assembly