What in the world is Bush Adventure Therapy? This presentation will take participants on a brief tour of the philosophies, client groups, practices and outcomes of Australian BAT services.

Dr Anita Pryor

A large and growing body of evidence tells us that going bush is good for health and wellbeing. When we add physical activity, experiential adventure and social relationships, the benefits are multiplied. And when these elements are provided within an intentional therapeutic frame, Bush Adventure Therapy is at work.

But what in the world is BAT – is it a thing?

This presentation provides an overview of BAT across the range of target groups, models and practice frameworks that exist in Australia. Anita will share recent research that uncovers who benefits, when they benefit most, how bush adventures work, how they compare with other therapies, and what is to be gained by going bush for therapy.


After completing a degree in Outdoor Education in 1993, Anita almost immediately fell in love with the therapeutic side of outdoor programming.

Anita gained further training in family therapy, mental health and public health, and over the last 25 years has been practitioner, manager, trainer and researcher. In 2009 she completed a PhD investigating the histories, practices, outcomes and evidence-base of Australian outdoor adventure interventions.

Anita has been integral in the establishment of Bush Adventure Therapy in Australia, and from 2012 to 2015 was co-chair of the International Adventure Therapy Committee (ATIC).

She currently supports BAT in Australia as co-director of Adventure Works Pty Ltd and is co-convening the upcoming Eight International Adventure Therapy Conference (8IATC) to be held in Sydney, Aug 2018.

Engaging with the outdoor classroom – stepping off the asphalt!

Jenny Dudgeon1, Ruth Whelan1, Sharyn Brett1,2

1Department of Education Tasmania, 2Sustainability Learning Centre and wyraparatee Child and Family Centre, Geeveston

In 2017 and 2018, Aboriginal Education Services (AES) and the Sustainability Learning Centre (SLC) in response to the Australian Curriculum’s Early Years Learning Framework’s focus on nature pedagogy, play based, student led inquiry offer an outdoor classroom immersion program for early year’s educators and students in suburban Hobart as a model of play based environmental education for educators to adopt in their own school settings.   We have noticed a strong push  back from early years educators and their managers to engage with learning out of doors – hence the program development to model how the outdoor environment has great potential to pose real world problems that engage learners and provide rich cross curriculum, multi-disciplinary learning to enable to;

“look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better”- Albert Einstein

The program has three strands.

1: Learning on and in Country with an Aboriginal Early Years Education Worker

2: Exploring and investigating the outdoor classroom with an outdoor educator

3: Engaging and collaborating with peers through problem solving using loose parts and natural affordances led by an early years educator

All strands of the program invite participants to move out of their comfort zone by stepping off the asphalt and with all their senses – engage with Tasmania’s Aboriginal cultural heritage, explore the ever changing environment, its natural affordances and how these can be used, interacted in/with and learned from.

An independent reflection of the immersion program has captured the thoughts and feelings and learnings of educators, parents and children involved.


Jenny Dudgeon
Jenny leads the innovative bush kindergarten/nature play programs at Tasmania’s Department of Education’s Sustainability Learning Centre (SLC). Inviting young learners and educators to step off the asphalt and engage with the bush first hand. In 2016, Jenny’s US Hardie Fellowship, investigated educating for sustainability through hands-on, real-world inquiry-learning; nature play/outdoor classrooms. A result of her inquiry is the outdoor classroom immersion program offered by the SLC in partnership with Tasmania’s Aboriginal Education Services targeting early years classes to embed nature based learning. Jenny’s a member of Tasmania’s Science Teachers Association and Convenor of the Australian Association of Environmental Educators – Tasmania.

Ruth Whelan
Ruth has extensive experience in outdoor education working in an education capacity for Green Corp, Greening Australia and currently for Eco Schools Australia and Keep Australia Beautiful – Tasmania. Ruth loves the outdoors and her greatest delights are sharing her passions for rock climbing and mountain biking with her children. Ruth recently completed her Masters of Education through Swinburne University and has begun an Early Years Grad Cert. Ruth, co – leads the SLC’s regular bush kinder community program and is co-collaborator in the SLC’s outdoor classroom program.

Sharyn Brett
In 2015, Sharyn co developed the bush kinder program for the SLC. She has been integral to the programs sensitive Aboriginal intercultural lens, exploring and learning about Country for Tasmania’s young children and their families. Sharyn is a member of Tasmania’s Aboriginal community and values her role as educator encouraging all participants to gain a more inclusive knowledge of Aboriginal history and its living culture. Sharyn provides Aboriginal early years programs across the Huon/Channel areas through wyraparatee Child and Family Centre and co-leads the SLC bush kinder and outdoor programs on Mondays and Tuesdays. Families traverse Hobart to attend the bush kinder program because of the opportunity to learn about Tasmania’s Aboriginal culture from Sharyn.

Developing Canoe Trails in Australia – The lived experience of a nature-tourism initiative through the eyes of a veteran Outdoor Educator and a third-year tertiary Outdoor and Environmental Education student.

Mr Chris Townsend1, Ms Kelly Gledhill1

1La Trobe University – Dept. Of Outdoor And Environmental Education, 2La Trobe University – Dept. Of Outdoor And Environmental Education

Through the lenses of a veteran outdoor educator, observations of paddler behavior around a variety of recreational paddling locations in Victoria led me to suspect that a significant percentage of the booming population of paddle-craft owners might need some guidance, through the form of formal canoe trails, to foster more meaningful participation in self-guided water based recreation.

A quantitative analysis of all formal canoe trails in Australia was conducted with the purpose of systematically investigating the variety and characteristics of existing and proposed formal canoe trails. [Geographic distribution; user groups; infrastructure & facilities; way-finding strategies; communication of safety content; interpretation of environmental and cultural knowledge]. Recommendations include the development and sharing of planning resources for stakeholders and land managers to better cater to the unique needs of paddlers, including the incorporation of well-considered interpretative strategies to foster land/waterway custodianship.

The La Trobe University Department of Outdoor and Environmental Education was then invited to form a partnership with the Loddon Shire in the design and implementation of a series of canoe trails along the Loddon River System in Victoria. Drawing on the findings of the study, third year Outdoor and Environmental Education Students worked cooperatively with the Shire to plan, design and implement multiple aspects of the Loddon canoe trails, with a particular focus on environmental and cultural interpretation.

This presentation firstly outlines the study and its findings before a third-year student involved in the Loddon Canoe Trails project reports on the experience of implementing this collaborative and innovative nature tourism initiative.


Chris Townsend, Associate lecturer in outdoor and environmental education at Latrobe University in Bendigo. Passionate about fostering journey based programs on flat and open water. His core teaching focus assists third year students in transitioning from leaders to teachers adept at sharing the stories of the rivers they teach on and about. Current research focuses on paddlers’ encounters with all things natural in river environments.

Kelly Gledhill is a forth-coming graduate from La Trobe University, Bendigo, completing a Bachelor of Outdoor and Environmental Education, sub majoring in Nature Tourism. Kelly grew up in Geelong and spent most of her time on Victoria’s surf coast, she has always been passionate about spending time in outdoors and observing wildlife.
She has always had a strong connection with the ocean and this love of coastal environments has extended to river environments when she moved to Bendigo, regional Victoria to study at university. She enjoys slow paced journeys, allowing a focus on the surrounding landscape to utilise her naturalist and interpretation skills.

Deep nature connection: Intentional ways of ‘teaching’ through experience

Dr Heidi A Smith1, Mr David Hayward2

1University Of Tasmania, 2St Patrick’s College

Across Australia, the many forms of learning outside including outdoor education, outdoor recreation, environmental education, and adventure education have, to varying degrees, identified the importance of ‘nature connection’ as a core goal for outdoor learning. In recent times, a call for a stronger focus on human nature relationships, developing connection to place and nature, and place based pedagogy in outdoor education has been consistent across the outdoor education literature. Until now, what has been present in the literature is the need for nature connection and what has been absent, is the how, how to go about explicitly teaching nature connection and the subsequent experiences of educators and students that result. Through the use of personal narratives and direct experiences of activities, this workshop shares the ‘What?’ of one educator’s personal experience of incorporating deep nature connection activities, to intentionally teach deep nature connection to pre-service outdoor education teachers/leaders on a wilderness field experience. ‘So What?’  The student experience is shared in terms of deep nature connection through engaging with the unit including the extended wilderness field experience.  ‘Now What?’ Opportunities for discussion and sharing of ideas/activities that have achieved connection to nature in participants will conclude the session. Come prepared to be actively involved in activities and share practice.


Heidi Smith is Lecturer in outdoor learning and teacher education professional studies at the University of Tasmania. Her research interests include outdoor learning, leadership, nature connection, web technologies in education and improving quality of 21st Century learning and teaching practice.

David Hayward graduated in 2016 with Honours in Bachelor of Education (Outdoor Education and Design and Technology). He has a growing interest in increasing his understanding of human nature relationships and how to teach this through researching student experience.

Cultureplace and Learning

A/Prof. John Quay1

1University Of Melbourne

The notion of cultureplace is an attempt, using words, to show how living experience of culture cannot be separated from living experience of place, and vice versa (Quay, 2017). While we can think about place separate from culture, and culture separate from place, living in the present we make no such distinction. Living in the present is living cultureplace. But how might this connect with learning?  Firstly we must acknowledge the multiplicity of cultureplaces. For example, canoeing down a river is a different cultureplace than bushwalking down the same river. But so is being in a different group canoeing down the same river. Secondly we must understand that a cultureplace frames meaning – what things mean is embedded in a cultureplace. So when we encounter problems or issues, these are challenges to how we meaningfully comprehend what is going on in a cultureplace. Learning is resolving issues of cultureplace. Transfer of learning is between cultureplaces. In this presentation I aim to further unfold how understanding the notion of cultureplace is important for understanding learning.

Quay, J. (2017). From human–nature to cultureplace in education via an exploration of unity and relation in the work of Peirce and Dewey. Studies in Philosophy and Education, 36, 463–476.


John has worked at the University of Melbourne since 2000. Before this he worked at St Paul’s Anglican Grammar School in Warragul, Victoria; and before this at OEG. His teaching and research stem from his belief in the importance of learning from outdoor education so as to improve schooling and understandings of education itself.

Wild Pedagogies: Touchstones for re-wilding education.

Dr Marcus Morse1

1La Trobe University

Wild Pedagogies as an idea and practice has generated considerable interest over the last few years. It has arisen out of a convergence of ideas about wilderness and the wild, education and the emerging environmental realities of our time. An aim in using the term wild is to challenge dominant cultural ideas about control—of each other, of nature, of education and of learning. This presentation rests on a premise that an important part of education can include intentional activities that provide a fertile field for purposeful experience without controlling the outcomes: hence wild pedagogies.

In this presentation I introduce key underpinnings, narratives, and practices of Wild Pedagogies and provide an example of what wild pedagogies might look like in action (in the form of a pinhole photography experience). Further, I bring together ideas of wildness, easing of control and the de-centering of humans to frame and describe six ‘touchstones’ for wild pedagogies in practice. These touchstones are intended as a practical guide for educators when thinking through actions on the ground and provide a set of challenges, commitments and reminders of the work still to be done. In this way I hope to provoke a discussion around the possibilities and potential of outdoor education.


Marcus Morse is a Senior Lecturer and Director, Outdoor Environmental Education at La Trobe University. His current research comes together around wild pedagogies, dialogue in education, community engagement and forms of paying attention within outdoor environments.

Alpine environments and environmental sustainability education

Mr Anthony Mangelsdorf1

1La Trobe University

Education ‘in, for and about the outdoors’ is often quoted as a definition for outdoor education – but how much of outdoor education is actually ‘for’ the outdoors? Further, to what degree does outdoor education contribute to creating a sustainable future?

Whilst the imperative for outdoor education to enable sustainability education outcomes is being increasingly discussed, little attention has been paid to the potential role that outdoor experiences in alpine environments might play, by providing direct experiences of ecosystems changing as a result of climate change.

Due to its limited size, predicted reductions in seasonal snow cover and endemic species, the Australian alpine environment is a powerful harbinger of a changing climate. Species that depend on alpine environments for survival, such as the Mountain Pygmy Possum, can be viewed as ‘alpine climate refugees’, and the alpine environments themselves provide opportunities for direct experience of ‘disappearing islands’ of ecological significance.

This presentation will discuss the author’s current research into two secondary alpine outdoor education programs on the Bogong High Plains (Victoria), using a ‘change model for sustainable outdoor education’ (Hill, 2012) as a lens to examine opportunities within these alpine outdoor education programs to contribute towards a sustainable future for Australia.


Anthony first really connected with the alpine environment as a secondary student while bushwalking in the (then) Wonnangatta-Moroka National Park. This relationship has developed into a lifelong passion for the environment and living sustainably on the planet.

While chasing ways to pursue this passion professionally, Anthony has completed degrees in Planning and Design, and Architecture, and Graduate Diplomas in Outdoor Education and Secondary Education. This has led to work in architecture, outdoor education, design and technology education, environmental education and local community sustainability. Anthony is currently an Associate Lecturer, and is also undertaking a Master of Outdoor and Environmental Education (by Research), at La Trobe University Bendigo.

Anthony believes that the way we relate to and understand the world affects the way we treat the world, and is committed to using his skills and experience as an outdoor environmental educator and sustainability facilitator to enable people to develop environmental and sustainability literacy, and to connect with nature, so that we can create a positive future.

Exploring nature, place, learning and ontology on a Snowy River journey

Mr Scott Jukes1

1La Trobe University

Journeys have long been part of the outdoor education landscape. In this presentation, I explore possibilities for envisioning outdoor education journeys differently by focusing on the material relations of a Snowy River journey with year ten students. A relational materialist approach is utilized to explore how the physical~material world is creative of places, people and learning beyond human centered ways of seeing. The importance of matter is relevant for post human researchers and outdoor environmental educators because it can situate humans as part of physical~material environments, not separated or necessarily superior to them; thereby potentially reducing human-centered perspectives and habits. Through encounters on a Snowy River journey I will discuss the entangled aspects of the human and more-than-human-world and highlight new possibilities for learning on outdoor journeys.

My research incorporates an ontological perspective of becoming, its application in an outdoor context and what new insights this may offer traditional practices. Exploring an ontology of becoming provides opportunities for an unfolding of the existence of the human and more-than-human world of a journey and can describe ways in which perspectives of nature may be shifted when we come to understand ourselves differently in/of places. This post human/relational materialist approach diverges from traditional perspectives of human-nature connections (humans being disconnected from nature and needing to reconnect); alternatively, seeing ourselves as part of the natural world and becoming with it.


Scott Jukes has worked as an outdoor educator for over 10 years, predominantly with an interest in journey programs. Currently, Scott works as a sessional staff member at La Trobe University, whilst also lecturing at Federation University and Australian Catholic University.
In 2016, Scott began studying a Masters of Outdoor Environmental Education (research) at La Trobe University, where he is focussing on topics of journeying, place relations, learning and ontology. When not juggling his study or work commitments, Scott is often found in the mountains or on a river somewhere.

Working Together To Build Outdoor Excellence Across Cultures

Mrs Georgie Chilcott1, Mr Dave  Groves2, Mrs linda Jolleys1

1Snug Primary School, 2Aboriginal Education Services


Part one

Dave Groves will discuss the redevelopment considerations of the site and the connection it has with the Indigenous Snug community.  He will discuss the strategic planting of edible plants, the midden area and the connection the area has with both the school and the community. 10 Minutes

Part Two

Georgie Chilcott will discuss how the area is used for Launching into Learning and our schools program that include water science and play with specific links to literature. 10 minutes

Part three

Linda Jolleys will present the overall programs offered and the Indigenous connections linked to the curriculum and the AITSL standards for teachers. 10 minutes.

It is proposed to have a photo display, lesson plans and practical ideas so that other schools can be inspired to think about natural play spaces near or connected to their schools.

10 minute question time


Dave Groves is a trained Horticulturist and landscape gardener with experience that spans 28 years. He has been instrumental in the development of the Snug River site where he has planted edible plants, created a campfire learning space and encouraged the Aboriginal community involvement.

Georgie Chilcott has been teaching for 15 years, graduating from the University of Tasmania in 2002. She currently manages our “Little Sprouts” launching into learning program, provides support to teachers and teaches Kinder. Georgie also offers parents learning days and supports young families with their transition to school.

Linda Jolleys graduated from Tasmanian University in 1999 having received an IV prize for Curriculum Design. She has received two intercultural teaching scholarships to Vietnam and Indonesia. Currently Linda teachers Prep. She also offers coaching to teachers, design programs and provides professional learning opportunities across the school.

Let’s talk about love: setting the foundations for lifelong love and care towards the environment (case study: Early Childhood Environmental Education in a Zoo-based setting)

Ms Jessica Brown1, Ms Bianca Dallan1

1Zoos Victoria


Let’s talk about love.

Early Childhood is arguably the most important stage of a child’s development – cognitively, emotionally and physically.  When thinking about early childhood environmental education, the emotional connections that young children build towards wildlife and the natural environment, could affect their relationship with nature in the long-term.

A new conservation-based Kindergarten program at Melbourne Zoo aims to foster love towards three little-known, critically endangered Australian species that need our help– the Helmeted Honeyeater, Eastern Barred Bandicoot and Corroboree Frog.

Through outdoor play-based learning, story-telling and song, the program unabashedly aims to develop wildlife-friendly and pro-conservation values – love of the natural world – within its Early Childhood participants.

Come and listen to the pedagogy and design concepts behind the Early Childhood Environmental Education program “Wild Explorers Kindergarten and Wild Explorers F to Grade 2” and how it links to the EYLF – the concepts of this case study could be replicated in your setting.


Jess Brown is lucky enough to be an Education Officer at Melbourne Zoo and the program developer of the Zoo’s Education for Conservation Kindergarten program and the coordinator of the Keeper Kids early-childhood play-space.  Jess feels incredibly passionate about connecting young children  to nature, helping children to build pro-conservation values and environmental care through play.  Jess studied a B.A of Nature Tourism at Bendigo La Trobe, Grad Cert. English Literary Studies at Uni Melbourne, Grad Dip Education (Primary) at Deakin and Grad Cert. Education (Early Childhood) at Uni Notre Dame.  Out of work, Jess has a life-long passion for conservation, nature and outdoor adventures and enjoys nothing more than escaping into the wilderness with her fiancé on a hiking or mountain biking adventure.


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