Great learning experience for VCE Geographers (James Osborne)

3rd May 2016

The VCE Geography Fieldtrip has been an annual highlight for not only those students lucky enough to study this wonderful subject but also for the staff who are blessed to go along too.

This year was no exception. I had the absolute pleasure of taking our year 12 Geography students out of the classroom to complete their mandatory fieldwork at Phillip Island. The students were exceptionally well behaved despite the very cozy and tiring 10 hours in the trusty College Mini Bus. 

This year marked the start of a brand new and exciting curriculum in VCE Geography. The unit that the students have just completed was Land Use Change. The Summerlands Peninsula, Phillip Island, has a very unique and varied history that has undergone some major land use changes in Victoria’s relative short European history; from a natural environment teeming with marine birdlife and mammals in the 19th Century, to grazing land to Chicory farming, to a housing estate in the late 20th Century.


In 1985 the Island’s famous penguins were on the brink disappearing all together. In an equally innovative and unprecedented decision to our own “Oddball” program, the Summerlands Housing Estate was bought back by the State of Victoria between 1985 and 2012. Bit by bit the houses were knocked down, the roads removed and golf course and gardens were replanted with native species to save the Fairy Penguin colony and the keep the Penguin Parade viable. From just over 130 Penguins in 1985, the population has recovered to approximately 1300.


The students were able to research these land use changes, their drivers and their impacts on both the local community and the environment. This was further expanded and explored through a Ranger presentation and specialized tour of the Peninsula together with student initiated business and visitor surveys. To enhance the whole experience the students and I all attended the Penguin Parade and the recently opened Antarctic Adventure at the Nobbies.

This was a really rewarding learning experience for our students. A huge thank you must be extended to Melisa Champness who assisted in this camp

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