On Country Cultural Awareness Training

Carrington Falls

Our Staff Development Day at Moss Vale High School allowed us to step out in to a beautiful winters day and follow the path our students took when planning and creating Our Ways, a teaching and learning text that incorporates 8ways pedagogy. Aunty Wendy began by acknowledging the Gundungurra country we were entering,

Aunty Wendy acknowledging Gundungurra country

and instructing us to puck a few leaves of tea tree as we passed a bush, crush them in our fingers as take deep sniffs of this anxiety alleviating plant. We then walked along the river as Wendy drew our attention to important artefacts and plants.

spear sharpening groovesspear sharpening grooves in stone
mortar for grinding plantsmortar bowls for grinding and pounding plants

soap plant

We were instructed to take a few leaves, scoop up water and rub our hands vigorously. Soap magically appeared!

creating ochre powder

We were shown how to choose rocks and pebbles from the riverbed to rub and produce ochre powder. This can be done with or without water, and is useful to create body paint or exfoliating rubs.

bush currants

Eating just one bush currant provides more than twice the amount of vitamin C found in two oranges.

used for dye

The bark of this tree is used as a dye

berries eaten when brown and ripe

while the fruit is eaten when brown and ripened.

termite mound is a natural oven

Termite mounds make natural ovens: break away a section of the wall, insert meat and replace wall. come back at the end of the day for a delicious meal.

star tree re-grows after harvest

The star tree regrows after harvest – the wood has many purposes.

saw grass used as knife with back-and-forth motion

Saw grass is used a knife – with a back-and-forth motion – for slicing fruit and meat.

old man banksia

Old man banksia provides bush tar that is ‘stronger than Araldite’. When grass is wound tightly around a branch or stick and secured with bush tar, the lit torch can burn for up to three hours.

tea tree bark used as bandage

Soft tea tree bark makes effective bedding, or can be used to bind and bandage wounds.

small banksias used as hair brush

Small banksia pods make good hair brushes, and while birds draw out the fluid as food, it has a natural conditioning effect for hair.

tall banksias burn as candles for 20 minutes

Tall banksia pods can be lit as temporary candles, useful when entering caves, that burn for up to 20 minutes.

strip three layers of bark to find dry kindling

How to start a fire in the rain? Peel three layers of bark to find a dry fourth layer that can be used for kindling.

 tree bole used for cups and bowlsTree boles, depending on size, 
can be used for cups or bowls.

fern used as insect repellent

Bracken fern makes an effective insect repellant, and the crushed root of this plant eases the sting of insect bites.

lomandra has many uses

Lomandra has many uses, from basket weaving to seeds that can be crushed to make damper.

green moss used to heal wounds

Nellie’s Glen is a woman’s water hole – green moss growing on a rocky overhang is good for healing wounds.

 Nellie's GlenNellie's Glen

sunshine on Nellie's Glen


kangaroo mint, lemon scented tea tree and apple gum

Take a few leaves of apple gum, lemon scented tea tree and kangaroo mint. Rub and crush between your hands and deeply inhale. An excellent way to clear the head.

kangaroo mint

Kangaroo mint works well on its own to clear nasal passages when crushed and sniffed.


Fold over a native sasparilla leaf, place  in mouth and chew. This plant helps regulate blood sugar levels and has an aftertaste similar to an artificial sweetener.

men's plants

Our morning finished with a cleansing smoking ceremony of men’s plants.

Our Ways book

Each staff member received a copy of the Our Ways book that is a tangible reminder of the many teaching and learning strategies used across all Key Learning Areas at Moss Vale High. Find out more about Aboriginal pedagogy at the wikispace 8ways.

teaching Deconstruct / Reconstruct

Deconstructing is a powerful tool in assisting students to understand a concept or text, and aids in the development of negotiated scaffolding when Reconstructing.

Bamir Language Gallery

The Bamir Language Gallery has been a wonderful showcase for student work that attracts reflection and praise. (bamir is the Gundungurra word for long).

Kick Off with Reading text

For the past three years, we have started each school year with our ‘Kick Off With Reading’ program where every student and staff member receives the gift of a book that is read during roll call. Various lessons and teaching activities incorporate the text across every faculty. In 2015 we read The Light Horse Boy by Dianne Wolfer which was a fictional multimodal text commemorating the sacrifices of World War 1.

Read more about the original inhabitants in a Southern Highlands News article.

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