Diving deep into nature at Bioblitz

More than 200 students from across the region descended on Mokidup or the Ellensbrook Homestead site for a huge day of environmental education, celebrating our wonderful waterways and their fantastic fauna. 

The Year 3 kids, from 11 classes spanning six local schools, gathered for Nature Conservation Margaret River Region’s annual Bioblitz, taking part in interactive and hands-on activities on water quality, marine and birdlife, plants and pollinators, cultural awareness and environmental stewardship. 

The Bioblitz is the culmination of two terms of learning for the students as part of Nature Conservation’s Our Patch Year 3 program, which fosters our future environmental stewards and inspires the next generation to value, respect and care for nature. 

The packed day of activities included Wadandi cultural workshops with Undalup Association, a treasure hunt organised by the National Trust to unearth the history of our first European settlers, and a deep dive into local birdlife by Christine Wilder from Birdlife WA. 

The kids also created an ephemeral art piece celebrating sense of place with environmental artist Elaine Cloherty, were thrilled to learn about carnivorous plants and quirky pollinators in a “plant power” workshop with Cape to Cape Explorer Tours guide Kirke Montgomery, and explored how our actions affect water quality with Curious Catchments’ giant trailer-mounted catchment model. 

Then the kids got hands-on with local marine life and learned how our marine animals have adapted over time with David Lierich and Michelle Keppel from the WA Parks and Wildlife Service. They also found out more about marine debris with Tangaroa Blue’s Casey Woodward, and then played an interactive bucket brigade game led by the Water Corporation to get them thinking about how to reduce our daily water use. 

Cowaramup Primary School teacher Kristy McKinley said her students “thoroughly enjoyed the day because it’s so important they enjoy and learn about the environment they live in, so then they can protect it.” “They’ve learned about invertebrates, possums, being out in their local nature,” she said. “I’m excited for the future. We’ve got a bright future ahead and it starts here at the grass roots with the kids.” 

Andrew Trevaskis, a teacher at Rapids Landing Primary School, said: “The kids are fully engaged with a nice mix of hands-on activities and learning, having a great time out here. We really want to keep the Our Patch program going at our school because the owl talks, the possum talks, the tree planting – the kids really engage in that community-minded stuff. It’s of huge benefit to them, for sure.” 

Student Penelope Smart, 9, from Margaret River Primary School, said her favourite Bioblitz activity was making a giant dragonfly from natural materials in the interactive art class. “I learned the aboriginal people used to live in mia-mias made from peppermint trees and I’m having a lot of fun because I’m learning new things today,” she said. 

Our Patch officer Peta Lierich said the Bioblitz was a “sensational day”. “The students were pumped to learn about our catchment and the incredible wildlife it supports from cultural custodians and local experts,” she said. 

Fellow Our Patch officer Lauren Scanlon said the Bioblitz built on two terms of learning about wetland ecosystems and the unique fauna of the region. “It’s such a special opportunity to learn about the importance of our beloved forest and river, and to provide a deeper understanding of its cultural significance and meaning,” she said. “We hope this great day gives students a sense of connection and stewardship for the land.” 

Nature Conservation said a huge thanks to the presenters and volunteers, parents who helped on the day, the amazing efforts of teaching staff, and to Our Patch funders including the Lions Club of Cowaramup, Shire of Augusta-Margaret River, Margaret River Rotary, the Paskeville Foundation and local schools.

Bioblitz