This flourishing indigenous garden, planted in 2015 at Brunswick North West Primary School and named Yakai Barring in Woiwurrung language (meaning ‘surprise track’), is full of educational opportunities. After two years growth, the Poa labillardieri (Common Tussock-grass) was quite abundant, so in May 2017 students in Grades 1 & 2 harvested it. They noted that the soft flower heads had already dropped their seed and could understand how Wurundjeri got clues from nature to know the seasons and the right time of year to collect seed. Later, the 125 students examined water bugs, gazed at toy dalai wurrung (playtypus) and iuk (short finned eel) and made detailed observational drawings.
All the students thought about the way Aboriginal children have made their own toys with harvested grasses, based on the stories of Gunditjmara artist, Aunty Bronwyn Razem.
They used the Poa from the school garden and some wool to shape the twined creatures they’d been learning about. Later each group named their creature accurately and laid out their ‘toys’ to create their own ponds of life, featuring three tailed damselfly larvae, wide billed platypus and spindly Needle Bugs.
Merri Creek Management Committee helped the school community to plant the original garden, assisted by a State Government water grant, and organised the arts-based education activities at the school in May.