Wominjeka — exploring the Botanic Gardens

Our two 4yo kinder groups recently went on separate excursions to the Royal Botanic Gardens, travelling by bus to explore the history and heritage of the gardens and their connection to Aboriginal culture.

The children were welcomed to the Gardens by indigenous guide Ben through a traditional Aboriginal smoking ceremony, sharing the stories of how this land was, and is, so important to the people of the Kulin Nations.

The groups explored the gardens and discovered traditional uses of plants for food, tools and medicine. Blue Group “flew” around the Gardens as various native birds (and some more exotic species – flamingo?) – and both groups took shelter under the canopy of great trees to share stories of spirit creatures such as the crow and You, Me Murrawee.

After heading up the “big hill”, the groups entered the Children’s Garden where we learned how to grind and mix ochre to create paint, using it to create handprints on linen and on the rock walls as a kinder community. We explored more traditional tools for hunting and gathering and then our thoughts to our own lunches – eaten with vigour under the shade of the Garden’s beautiful trees.

The Botanic Gardens excursions are part of SPK’s curriculum of being, belonging and becoming under the Early Years Learning Framework, and are an extension of activities exploring culture, community and sustainability, including supporting activities from our Reconciliation Action Plan.

From the children:

“Wominjeka is how you say hello to the Gardens. It’s a special place. It has special words.”

“I liked smashing the paint with rocks, but I didn’t want to touch it, but then I did. It was cool. I made a big handprint.”

“Ben was clapping the sticks and we were copying him. There was a little fire. It was mostly smoke. We put some leaves on the fire to make the smoke. It was sharing the original person’s life.”

“The leaves were used as a kind of food and to make bandages. And the bark. They used that for all kinds of stuff.”

“The crow wanted to be brave like the crow in the puddle. But she didn’t it was her. It was her reflection. And she was already brave.”