Bruny Island is one of Australia’s gems. A short trip on the car ferry takes you to the island renowned for fantastic coastal vistas and wildlife not to mention food artisans.
I went across most recently to visit the school because I wanted to support the community’s efforts in living sustainably. I was also delighted to go there because in 1990 Michael Field the then Labor Premier and Peter Patmore, the Minister for Education wanted to close the school. The Greens were in balance of power and I was the education spokesperson and so I successfully introduced legislation to save 22 small schools and Bruny Island was one of them. Seeing it again after all these years and having the opportunity to see what a terrific school it is, was very satisfying.
The School is part of the Aussie Sustainable Schools programme and has an excellent vegetable garden as well as a Hampshire Down sheep stud.
The students plant and harvest fruit and vegetables and then once a week the parents volunteer on a roster to cook the students a hot lunch. I wanted to help out and so donated some fruit trees which I helped the students to plant. It was a lot of fun and I hope that the scarecrows that the kinder and Prep students made over last summer do the trick and keep the blackbirds off the fruit.
The students are hands on with the sheep as well as the vegetables. They show the sheep each year at the Royal Hobart Show and have an impressive collection of ribbons for their efforts. At the front of the school there is a wonderful native garden to encourage birds and butterflies.
The next project is to establish renewable energy in the school with leadership having already been shown by the Medical Centre next door with its own turbine.
When I went into one of the classrooms the students were creating posters as part of an anti litter campaign and one will be chosen to be made into a sign to be erected near the ferry terminal to remind visitors to the island that it is a place where people love their environment.
The school also has a new Commonwealth funded building and it is amazing and a real credit to the community. It was designed by a local architect and constructed by local builders and has all the energy efficiency measures you could want in a new building ranging from north facing orientation to double glazed windows, to brilliant insulation and efficient lighting.
This is a school that is loved by its staff, parents and students and it was a real joy to visit.