St Brigid’s School in Collie officially opened their Noongar Garden this term, celebrating with the local community the completion of a project which began in 2018.
The Noongar Garden project grew from a challenge for the school’s Year 6 students of 2018, who were tasked with designing a new learning and play space, and decided to incorporate a gym area, a tree house, a creek, and the garden.
Between 2018 and the opening of the garden, the students and school staff consulted members of the local Noongar community on the design, which incorporates signage with information on Seasons, Land, Waterways and Sky, and the significance of local plants and animals for the Wilman Noongar people of the area.
Senior students were actively involved in building the garden throughout 2018, 2019 and 2020, preparing signs, collecting rocks, constructing garden beds, weeding, mulching and planting, and Principal Daniel Graves acknowledged the contribution of students past and present at the opening event.
James Khan, a local Noongar custodian, was a key consultant for the project and conducted a Welcome to Country at the opening, and spoke about the development and importance of the garden; Parish Priest Fr Robert Romano also joined the celebrations, leading a prayer of blessing for the garden.
Guests at the event included Uncle Joseph Northover, who spoke during the proceedings and sang a song in Noongar language, as well as members of Collie’s Noongar and Aboriginal community, school parents, and the Principals of St Joseph’s School in Bunbury and Collie Senior High School.
The Noongar Garden was created with support from sponsors South 32, Bendigo Bank and the St Brigid’s P&F, who funded elements of the garden including earthworks, plants and signage, and had representatives join the opening celebrations.
After declaring the garden open, Mr Graves invited guests to explore the interpretive walk, and stay for a chat and a bite to eat.
St Brigid’s Noongar Garden is intended to be a learning resource for students, as well as the broader community, to learn about, understand and appreciate Noongar language and culture, and will continue to grow and be incorporated into learning at the school into the future.