On Wednesday, July 3, Year 3 and 4 students from Bunbury primary schools spent the day taking advantage of the fantastic weather to enjoy a day of nature based activities at Mangrove Cove.
The area is managed by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attraction's new Regional Parks team and includes a purpose-built education pavilion overlooking the mangroves of Leschenault Inlet.
The free educational day was organised by the Department's Parks and Wildlife Service Nearer to Nature team, as a way to provide students with a day of cultural and environmental activities.
It also introduced teachers to the facility, and the range of people and organisations offering nature-based school education programs within the Greater Bunbury area.
Around 150 students from Cooinda, Maidens Park, and Dalyellup Primary Schools engaged in round robin activities covering the importance of mangroves, food chains, nature conservation, geology and the area's indigenous history.
Students also engaged in practical rehabilitation work as part of an effort to increase native vegetation in the area, and provide additional habitat and food for native wildlife.
"The venue is a great asset to Bunbury. It is easily accessible and able to cater for a large number of students and activities," Dalyellup Primary School Year 3 teacher Jennifer Elson said.
"The activities provided were both enjoyable and stimulating. It was a great opportunity to educate our children on issues relating to their local environment."
There was a wide range of presenters who brought enthusiasm and specialised knowledge to the day.
Local Noongar man Troy Bennell gave a Welcome to Country and throughout the day entertained smaller groups with his knowledge of the cultural and historical importance of this area to the Noongar people.
Other presenters included the Dolphin Discovery Centre staff and volunteer group Greenteach (supported by the Leschenault Catchment Council) who provided hands-on activities looking at some of the critters found in the mud and waters and highlighting the importance of the mangroves to the local and wider environment.
Birdlife Bunbury volunteers guided walks along the estuary spotting a huge range of birds including a sleeping Boobook owl and the Ospreys which nest within the park.
Students were also treated to a special encounter with young joeys as volunteers from wildlife rehabilitators FAWNA and Roo Rescue explained the importance of caring for habitat and explained what to do with sick or injured native animals.
City of Bunbury Sustainability and Environmental Planning team leader Ben Deeley used role play to explain the geological forces that have shaped Bunbury over time.
Parks and Wildlife Service Nearer to Nature educational program staff offered a close-up look at some of our regions biodiversity through a display of taxidermies and the ever fascinating 'touch table', while the Regional Parks rangers guided students in the planting of native seedlings.
"This event was our first use of this fantastic education facility," Nearer to Nature project officer John Anderson said.
"Apart from providing a fun and educational day for the students with a wide range of activities, it also gave us the opportunity to bring together teachers and local environmental educators.
"There are outdoor classrooms throughout the Greater Bunbury region which can be used for meaningful learning and hands on environmental activities."