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Ideas for Crowdy Head Public School site

CROWDY Head Public School will not open its doors to students this year.

Last year the tiny school community lost its fight with the Department of Education to keep it operational. The school closed quietly, without fanfare, but now a not-so-quiet campaign is beginning to try to prevent the site from being sold by the Department of Crown Lands.

Member for Port Macquarie, Leslie Williams will be at Crowdy Head Surf Life Saving Club on January 29 at 10.30am to listen to community opinion and ideas for future use of the site.

One idea that is gaining momentum within the community is the proposal that the site be used for an Aboriginal and environmental education centre. Late last year Wingham Brush Environmental Education Centre officer and National Parks and Wildlife Service discovery ranger, Keith Davy stepped forward with the proposal.

It was not a new idea, as the foundation work for the concept began in 2010 when funding from the federal government and the Hunter Central Rivers Catchment Authority resulted in the production of a DVD and an information kit to promote the Aboriginal heritage of Crowdy Bay National Park and its environmental diversity.

The project was a group initiative, fuelled strongly by the passion of Manning Coastcare Group members, former Crowdy Head Public School principal, Chris Tsembis and Mr Davy. At that time it was proposed that the centre would run out of the school, that the school would be the main contact point for photos, maps and historical information on Crowdy Bay National Park and physical displays. Four years on, Mr Davy is now keen for the Manning community to rally to try to ensure the site is retained for community use and claim the opportunity to push for a valuable education resource.

Harrington Community Action Group (HCAG) learned of Mr Davy’s idea after he was featured in a front page story in the Times and decided to lend its support to the campaign. The group sought the meeting with Mrs Williams. It also wrote to Mrs Williams requesting representations be made to the minister for crown lands and the minister for education with regard to the future use of the site.

At the time of going to print no response had been received by Mrs Williams from either minister. Mr Davy hopes the government will see the value of retaining the land for community use and education.

“The Crowdy Gap is a significant Aboriginal place and it would be great for them (indigenous community) to be involved and have some degree of ownership,” Mr Davy said.

“I would like to train an indigenous National Parks and Wildlife Service discovery ranger and I think this would be the perfect place for that to come on board. I really think that this could be a wonderful opportunity.”

Mr Davy contends it is critical that school students aged from preschool through to senior biology and geology students be given the opportunity to learn in an area that boasts unique cultural and environmental features.

“You’ve got to get out to experience nature and you can’t do that through a computer,” Mr Davy said.

“Computers are great for gathering information but you’ve got to get out there and have a hands-on experience to really get a feel for it, to learn.”

Mr Davy paints a remarkable picture of the potential for hands-on learning.

“The location is remarkable. You can stand on the headland and imagine Captain Cook sailing past and naming the Three Brothers, which is the same name the indigenous had,” he said.

“You’ve got easy access to the quarry from where the rocks were shipped to make it possible to get in and out of the Manning River, you’ve got the indigenous history with The Big Swamp, the history of sand mining, you’ve got a marine rock platform, the sand dunes, Crowdy Gap with its natural, rather rare kind of local rainforest.

“You’ve got all of those remarkable things within a panoramic view standing on the headland,” Mr Davy said.

Harrington Community Action Group is urging the community attend the meeting with Mrs Williams.

For further information or to RSVP contact Joan Hall 6556 1521 or Margaret Ward 6556 1019.

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