Northside Montessori School’s Native Aboriginal garden

Northside Montessori School, NSW

Walangari helping to create a traditional mural with students

With the aim of transforming a disused and weedy area into a thriving Indigenous garden, Northside Montessori School in New South Wales applied for a Westpac Junior Landcare grant to help them on their way. Preparations began with research and devoted parents who gave up time and books for the cause.

From their discoveries, the students decided to separate the space into a bush craft area, bush medicinal area and bush tucker area. For this they called on the expertise of Walangari, an Aboriginal artist, and a parent helper who is also a landscape gardener. Students then investigated the traditional uses of native plants and planned what varieties would be best for medicine, craft and, most importantly, dinner!

The Junior Landcare grant enabled pupils and volunteers to test the pH of the soil, clear the area, add top soil and select native plants. This stage of the project taught the Junior Landcarers about plant needs, land use and ecosystems. Contributions from other local schools and the Harvest Seeds and Native Plants nursery gave the kids a strong sense of community contribution and spirit.

With Walangari, everyone was given an insight into the significance of traditional Aboriginal symbols and the spiritual connection that Indigenous people have with the land. Teaching the Landcarers that they were linked to the plants around them, the group connected the plants with circular rings of stones transforming the whole space into a 3D dot painting.

In computer lessons, the students designed individual plaques which classified each plant and identified its use, distribution and history. All of the contributors to the project learnt incredibly valuable lessons in history, culture, science, design and community, proof that Junior Landcare can have as much of a positive impact on all areas of learning as they do on the environment.