Lessons on the Road

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Lessons on the Road

Cheryl Dedman

I am from Tatura in Victoria and I home educate our son Jacob (11). My husband Pete, Jacob and I have just embarked on an eight-week trek through parts of South Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland and NSW. Our adult son is home, caring for our ‘Castle’, whilst we travel in our portable ‘Castle’ which some may call a caravan. This is the second trek or instalment we are making in our quest to travel Australia. Three years ago, we travelled throughout Eastern Australia for 12 weeks. 

Now to ‘Lessons On the Road’! Preparing for our journey was no easy feat and it often left us wondering if it would all be worth it. Apart from the basic needs for us all, we require: 

an itinerary to explain what we will be doing each day (with a clause of flexibility for necessary changes); 

school curriculum with prepared lessons to link in with places we will visit; 

food to suit dietary needs; and lots of books to read! 

I know that not all families need to be so structured, but ours does, so we know we have to put the work in to get the best results. 

For several weeks prior to leaving, every night I planned and researched our itinerary and prepared curriculum for Jacob. I frequently became excited when I came across learning opportunities, particularly those that link in with the work we have been doing this year on early explorers. I couldn’t believe my luck when I learned that the Maritime Museum in Port Adelaide would have an exhibition of over 50 sketches and paintings by artists Charles- Alexandre Lesueur and Nicolas-Martin Petit who accompanied French explorer, Nicolas Baudin, during his voyage of 1800-1804. This artwork was produced during a four-year voyage by Baudin to chart the southern continent and was funded by Napoleon Bonaparte. I will be totally honest and own up to having a passion for Australian History. 

Other educational opportunities include learning about the origin of the Stuart Highway, which we will be travelling on as we journey through Central Australia and on to Darwin. We have just commenced learning about inland explorers and what better excursion than to travel the way that John McDouall Stuart did all those years ago and to imagine what he felt and encountered during that journey. 

More recent explorers we will be learning about include Tom Kruse, known as ‘Tom the Outback Mailman’ and the Leyland Brothers. 

There is also an abundance of resources and information relating to our First people, the indigenous inhabitants. During my school years in mainstream school, I can only ever remember being taught about English explorers. My eyes have been opened up to a whole new timeline of history, which Jacob and I can learn about together. 

As always, my best friend for resources is our local library internet catalogue and our librarians who are always of great help in searching for information regarding any subject we are currently studying. Sourcing information and related books etc. in advance helps enormously. 

Our lessons are not all related around paper and pens. Much of my research and preparation is to create the groundwork to make the most of opportunities to learn from and during our journey. 

Our ‘Lessons On The Road’ don’t only relate to education. There is no ‘perfect’ day during our travels. Instead each day teaches us the hard lessons of life, such as how to live in a small area together for many weeks and how hard this becomes during inclement weather. But it’s these hard lessons which keep us learning always. After all, education is not only for the young! 

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