An annual journey to NSW’s Riverina region is a highly anticipated field trip for Year 12 Geography students. Timothy Coorey (Y12) shares his experience.
On the Sunday afternoon of Valentine’s Day, the two Year 12 Geography classes set off from school for our field trip to study rice farms. Following a seven-hour coach trip to Leeton, which involved passing into a rice quarantine zone, we disembarked at the heart of Australia’s rice industry, one of the most efficient rice industries in the world.
We arrived late at night at Yanco Agricultural College, where we would be staying for the trip, and managed to find our beds before we fell asleep! Early the next morning we left to visit ‘The Boundary’, a mixed rice farm owned by Mr Randall Williams. We spent the morning on the farm learning about the equipment, methods, crop variety and other things that kept the farm running. We also managed to see the main irrigation canal, which transports 9000ML of water over a stretch of about 100km each day!
Before our afternoon plans, we stopped for lunch in town, and the boys greatly assisted the local Red Rooster and McDonald’s by tripling their average daily earnings. We then visited the SunRice Mill and Information Centre, the national headquarters for production and processing in Australia. Here we watched a presentation on the different industries of the Riverina area, learnt about different rice varieties and their uses, and were able to sample some local rice products.
Following our visit to the Information Centre we spent some time with the Technical Officer from Yanco Agricultural Institute, who showed us experimental plots where new breeds of rice are developed to suit Australian conditions.
Returning to the College later in the afternoon we had some free time, and a chance to relax and revise what we’d found out, before – shock horror – our assessment task that evening. This did not turn out as bad as we thought however, and after dinner we dried off from the pool and headed to the hall to write our essays – definitely one of the best ways to do an assessment!
In the morning we packed our belongings onto the coach and headed out to our last farm – a farm Joeys has not visited before. Mr and Mrs Kirkup’s farm, near Leeton, was a rewarding visit. Mr Kirkup explained his new irrigation techniques and we learnt how they increase the efficiency of his water use dramatically. We also went out to a few of his rice paddies, where we had a close encounter with a brown snake – an experience even for the country boys – and witnessed a plane landing about 20 metres away. We found out a great deal about rice growing, sowing, care and harvest and the operation of the Doplar monitor, a device which measures water usage using ultrasound technology.
After saying goodbye and thank you to the Kirkups, we then began the long trip home, arriving exhausted but ready for school the next day. Our trip would not have been nearly as successful without the tremendous efforts and tolerance of our committed Geography teachers, Mr Mark Cahill and Mrs Donna Quinn, and the enthusiasm of Fred, our coach driver.
Year 12 Geography Student
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