I have to admit, I imagined that my field trip days were over once I started university. But when I got to ANU, I was pleasantly surprised to see on one of my course schedules that an overnight field trip to Kioloa Coastal Campus was in store for us, and I was really intrigued.
Kioloa is about a 2.5-3 hours drive from Canberra, situated on the coast a bit north of Batemans Bay. It is a quieter area, since a lot of the area is taken over by campervans and car parks with local residents or holiday home owners, but the town definitely had a quaint and friendly feel to it. The field trip was targeted so that we as students could see the positions of different stakeholders that reside and occupy the space in Kioloa, whether that be locals, the Indigenous people that reside on the land, or the wildlife that thrives on the resources available. We went on a lot of nature walks to study the different ecosystems in the area, and studied tons of unique trees, forestry, beaches, endangered wildlife such as the Hooded Plovers, and land history.
On the last day of the fieldtrip, we were put into groups and did a role play exercise; each group was designated to act as a specific stakeholder group and develop a new plan for the Kioloa land revolved around the tourism and sustainability plans for the future of the land. It was a really unique and engaging way to see the different viewpoints between each stakeholder group, and allowed for the students to become more aware of the various viewpoints and perspectives from different stakeholders.
Going on this trip was also an awesome experience because I got to know so many people that were taking the class, and make so many friends with similar interests. Since the course is Environment and Sustainability of Geography, a lot of the students are really passionate about the environment and adapting more sustainable lifestyles, which made for really interesting conversations and topics throughout the weekend.
To any future ANU students (first year or exchange), I overall recommend to take this course, or at the very least, try and see popular tourist spots such as Kioloa (or any coastal area) from a few different perspectives next time you are visiting. Allow yourselves to take on the role of someone that you normally would not see eye-to-eye with, and think about how the land and its’ resources may have a different meaning/importance to you compared to them. This course helped me do that on the Kioloa trip, and now I try to actively do it when I am visiting other touristic locations around Australia. It changes your mindset in a really interesting way and helps you to better understand the environments that we live in, and overall appreciate them so much more.