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Remote outreach!

This week, together with Rob Hollow and Mary Mulcahy from the ATNF, and Steven Tingay from Curtin, I went up to visit a remote school in an aboriginal community at Pia Wadjarri to do some outreach. We met up in Geraldton on Monday and headed out to Boolardy station on Tuesday morning, a drive of several hours in a 4x4 along mainly dirt roads through low scrub. The area is incredible, so different to what I'm used to back in the UK. It is pretty remote, and we were very glad of the satellite phone when the 4x4 broke down 130km north of the nearest bit of tarmac and 70km short of the nearest settlement of any size! We spent four hours trying to escape the afternoon Sun by hiding under a small tree.

An MWA tile with the<br /><br />breakaway in the background

MWA tile with the breakaway in the background


The rest of the trip went really well. We went to visit the site of the Murchison Wide-field Array (MWA) and the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) early on Wednesday morning, and it's fantastic. Between the MWA tiles and the ASKAP cabin, there's a breakaway which is the only height for miles in any direction. We climbed up and had a look out over the area, a huge expanse of land with hardly a person anywhere. It's very remote, and so quiet. I love it.

The ASKAP cabin from the breakaway
The ASKAP cabin from the breakaway CREDIT: Megan

Then we went to the school at Pia to do a day of astronomy activities with kids from the reserve and a group who had come up from Yalgoo to join us for the day. We had planned to get out telescopes in the evening after sunset and do some practical astronomy, but it was too cloudy in the end. We did plenty of other stuff though: solar system games, looked at the Sun, raced balloon rockets and launched water rockets. It was great!

Launching water rockets at Pia
Launching water rockets at Pia CREDIT: Megan

It was a fantastic week, despite the problems with the 4x4! I'm hoping to get a chance to go back there at some point though: I spent ages looking for some decent slide film for my old SLR especially for taking some astrophotos on this trip, but it was cloudy every night!

Posted by Megan on Friday 24th Oct 2008 (07:53 UTC) | Add a comment | Permalink

More Scouting antics

Not long after I joined my Scout Troop Possum, out Group Leader, asked if I'd like to go to CampWest. This is a big camp held here in WA every three years - it lasts for a week and is preparation for those that want to attend the Australian Jamboree. My response was "absolutely!" I've always loved camping, and it's ten years since I last went on a big camp so I was keen to go along. This year the camp was at Manjedal, the Scout campsite near Byford, just south of Perth and had over 800 Scouts attending. There were around 200 leaders as well, so over 1000 people altogether. The Scouts from my troop were camping together with Scouts from Gosnells and Wanerro on one campsite called Kim's Track 2. As well as me, another leader from our Scouts went as well. I was allocated to the Activities Team so, while I was camping with my troop, I spent my days working at one of the activity bases (I got to play with pioneering gear for the whole week - brilliant!). Womble, the other leader from my troop, was given the job of QM for our campsite. His job was to organise the equipment for our campsite (about 45 Scouts plus 8 leaders) and the catering. All the food was provided, but the duty patrol on each campsite had to cook the meals. Big camps work a bit different to how we used to do it with Guides in the UK, so I learnt a lot in the first two days!

The Centenery-pedes at CampWest
The Centenery-pedes at CampWest 2008 CREDIT: Megan

It was a lot of fun though, apart from the disaster with the vegetarian options (there weren't any for the first few days!), and I had a great time. The next Australian Jamboree is in 2010 in New South Wales and I can't wait! First I've got to plan my activity base for Escape in January though...

Last weekend was full of Scouting things as well. On Saturday, Womble and I went out on the Bibbulmun Track to check out a campsite we're planning on using for an overnight hike in a few weeks. It turned out to be a really good spot, and the weather was perfect for hiking. Then on Sunday we went down to help at the Moreton Bay Fig Festival, an annual community event organised by Victoria Park. The Scouts were running a craft stand and manning the community sports trailer so I spent most of the afternoon playing volleyball with random people! I helped out on the portable climbing wall for a while too (they were swamped with people and needed a break for lunch) so I got to have a go before they packed up.

This week is the start of term four, the schools have just been on holiday for two weeks. The programme for the term is looking like a lot of fun: as well as regular meetings we've got the overnight hike, a camp, a day playing with the canoes out on the river, a barbecue at Kings Park and this weekend is JOTA! Should be fun!

I get the feeling that Scouts has taken over a bit, but I don't care, it's fun. (And nobody has mentioned the "G" word yet....)

Posted by Megan on Monday 13th Oct 2008 (05:54 UTC) | Add a comment | Permalink

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