April 5, 2018
A bunch of tired but happy families returned to the South Burnett on Thursday after enjoying a whip-cracking time in western Queensland over Easter.
The group of students and parents from St Mary’s Catholic College, accompanied by teacher Lauren Arrell, left Kingaroy on Good Friday in a convoy of private vehicles for their outback adventure.
There were eight families and 10 whipcrackers – a total of 28 people – in the travelling party.
The students ranged in age from Year 1 to Year 10.
Lauren, who teaches whipcracking at the school, said it had always been one of the ambitions of the whipcracking team to go to Longreach.
They spent their first night in a caravan park at Mitchell where the students experienced the artesian spa baths and put on a show around the campfire for other travellers.
They then stopped off at Morven for morning tea at Gidgee’s Bush Camp where they put on another impromptu performance.
The convoy then headed to Ilfracombe where they spent the night at the Wellshot Hotel which was hosting a Speed Shears competition.
“They performed at the hotel that night and were a huge hit,” Lauren said.
On Easter Sunday, the convoy travelled on to Longreach where they stayed at Outback Pioneers and explored the heritage experiences offered by the Kinnon family for a couple of days, including stagecoach rides, a riverboat cruise, an old-time Tent Show, smoko and scones and a campfire dinner featuring billy tea, damper and a camp oven stew.
They even experienced what going to the movies used to be like … watching the 1956 Aussie film “Smiley”, which was shot in Augathella, in canvas deck chairs.
The whipcrackers performed to about 80 guests at Outback Pioneers on Monday night.
“They had fun wherever they went, and it was educational,” Lauren said.
“They learned about artesian water and what it’s like to be in sheep country, which was an experience for them because most come from cattle properties.
“And they met a lot of different people along the way.”
She said it was “more than just the whipcracking”.
“The kids get the confidence to get out in front of people, and they put their own bit of Aussie humour into it as well,” she said.
Along the way, a couple of the young whipcrackers also picked up a new skill – how to crack a bullock whip – which they have incorporated into their performances.
“Whipcracking performances and confidence go hand-in-hand, but most of all, I want them to have fun!” Lauren said.
[Photos: Lauren Arrell]