Well the end of 2022 was a huge success at Wollangarra. We had a good turnout at our Open Day, raised some epic funds for Wollangarra, had a fun final Melbourne Cup work party and we finished 2022 on a high with amazing Holiday Stage 1, 2 and 3 programs where we got many young people into the mountains. A bunch of regular Stage 2’s were inducted into Stage 3 and will now contribute back to Wollangarra in a big way over the next year and be role models for upcoming Stage 1 and 2’s. While we were sad to say goodbye to the awesome team we had the pleasure of working with in 2022, we are also excited to start fresh in 2023 with a new team and see where the year will take us. After a well-deserved 2-week brake, we are now back into the full swing of things and have jumped straight into Staff training period over Jan/Feb/March and are equipping our Staff with tickets and skills including Bronze medallion, Wilderness First Aid, Defensive driving and 4WD training, hike and program training to name a few. We are just about to travel up to our sister organization Mittagundi for their Open Day and support them in starting their year with new Directors.
We can only hope that things remain somewhat normal again after Covid restrictions have eased, and that we can run all of our programs and events once again in 2023! Currently we are prepping for events Fruit Bottling coming up in Jan, Locals Lunch and Labour Day weekend work party in March and our first programs coming up in April. May 2023 be a good year for all!
The aim of Wollangarra is to offer young people (age 4-17 years) an opportunity to reconnect to basics and to nature. Wollangarra provides ongoing experiences that excite and empower young people, while building community, kindness, and purpose. Following the difficult year of 2020, any funding acquired has gone to the operational running of Wollangarra, including property maintenance, staff training, equipment purchases and the running of programs and events.
Given that the first few months of the year are fire season in Victoria, property maintenance was primarily focused on fire management by training the staff in fire management, maintaining the property to fire-safe standards and ensuring we have functioning water-pump systems in place. If we were not working on the property, we were training our Staff to become competent Outdoor Leaders by providing them with complex trauma training, a bronze medallion qualification, a 4WD courses qualification, communication skills, and experience in hike training and program training - to name a few.
As the first three months of the year consisted of training, we have only recently started with Holiday and School programs. In total we have had 5 programs so far, with a fully booked Calendar shaping the remainder of the year and programs running nearly every week. Each Program sees on average ~24 young people visit Wollangarra. We have therefore so far reached ~120 young people in 2021. With at least another 15 programs booked in for the remainder of 2021, we should be able to reach another ~360 young people this year. In addition to programs we have also been able to have events again at Wollangarra in 2021. We were able to have our annual Fruit-bottling event in January over 6 days, where over 60 people of all ages helped bottle over 130kg of plums from one of our plum trees at Wollangarra. Time was also spent working in the garden and building a new compositing toilet. We also hosted a working bee over Labour Day weekend, with ~30 people helping chop wood for winter and make passata for programs. Lastly, we hosted a Locals Lunch event where ~25 locals from the area came up to Wollangarra to share a delicious lunch outside in the courtyard under the vines. It has been fantastic having people back on the property and we look forward to many more events and programs this year!
Nestled in a beautiful, mountainous part of rural Victoria, we couldn’t be in a better spot for prolonged isolation. We have ample projects to keep us busy (including fixing fencing, painting roofs and signs, amping up garden productivity, renovating a chicken coop and hopefully building some composting toilets) … But, even being in a beautiful place with a heap of jobs to while away the time, things can be hard! We all committed to a year of helping young people learn and grow in the high country of Victoria, and now we’re glorified caretakers instead of Outdoor Leaders – we feel incredibly fortunate, but that loss of a sense of purpose has been a struggle from time to time.
To keep up morale, we’ve been baking beautiful breads and desserts (sourdough loaves and caramel puddings are favourites at present), experimenting with making drinks out of stinging nettle, spinning wool into yarn, laboriously rolling out gorgeous ravioli and hosting fun events to keep our little, slightly wonky family invigorated and full of love. One of our events we’ve come to love is Trivia Tuesdays, where the host rotates each week. What started as a simple five rounds with ten questions each has evolved into nights where participants are asked to act out bowerbird courtship displays, draw portraits of that week’s host, read out Dutch stories where we’re graded on pronunciation and all other sorts of crazy spontaneity!
We’re crossing all our fingers and toes that we can open our doors to community and young people sooner rather than later. In the meantime, we’ll keep doing what we do best – making a tough situation into a fun adventure.
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