A PRIVATE Geelong school will develop a 37-hectare property at Cape Otway as a permanent site for its students’ outdoor and environmental education.
The Geelong College’s new coastal campsite is next to the Great Otway National Park and within walking distance of the Cape Otway Lighthouse, the Great Ocean Walk and Station Beach.
College principal Andrew Barr says owning the property would let the school develop its learning outdoors and environmental program and provide a range of benefits for students.
“This represents a major landmark in the history of the college” Mr Barr said.
“Cape Otway is a beautiful part of the world, and one that is significant to students who have been on our Year Eight camp which has been run in the area for a number of years.
“But the diversity of landscape, flora and fauna, and its historical significance, both in Indigenous history and since European settlement, were the reasons we chose the site,” he said.
“We felt it had much to teach us.”
Mr Barr said the college’s outdoors learning program was linked to environmental studies, science, geography and history, “as well as benefits through social and emotional learning”.
“Our existing learning outdoors program is comprehensive but we felt it was missing a sense of place and connection for students in developing stewardship responsibilities for the environment,” he said.
“The Cape Otway property will enable that.
“Students of all ages from across the college will learn at the property; it is revisiting, contributing and developing an affinity with a place that helps young people to learn about a place deeply,” Mr Barr said.
“Students from junior school will visit Cape Otway with their families and on camps, and as they continue through their education, they will return regularly and spend longer periods at the property.”
Mr Barr said the college bought the property after a 12-month analysis of sites, planning and safety, and it was ready to start a phased development of the site.
“We will engage professionals with a real understanding of environmental design to help us to develop the site sensitively and with genuine environmental responsibility,” he said.
“One of our ideas is to have self-powered accommodation that helps students to understand their responsibility as energy consumers and who use resources with respect,” Mr Barr said.