Back in June, we said goodbye to our families and piled onto a minibus with trepidation in our minds and exhilaration in our hearts. We were beginning our journey to Thursday Island, taking 4 flights, 2 buses, taxis and a ferry.
Little did we know that in a week we would have surpassed any hopes or reservations we had. Soon we were on our first flight of the trip. It was incredible to watch the familiarity of Newcastle drift away and be replaced with views of Brisbane, then Cairns.
We were struck by the expansive beauty of aquamarine waters surrounding the tropical island. On our first night we were treated to traditional song and dance performed with such enthusiasm by the students. At school the children immediately ran up to us and began chatting away. It was so beautiful to see their grinning faces and openness to the somewhat apprehensive strangers − apprehensive only because it was a new and exciting role for us. Our job within the school was mainly to assist the teachers, and this morphed into games at recess and lunch. I’ve never played Duck, Duck Goose so many times in my life!
On Hammond Island we tried weaving and were shown the magnificent stone church that stood over the top of the school. The under 8s carnival was a favourite among the group and activities such as face painting, mobile making and biscuit decorating proved very popular among the kids. We visited a pearl farm on Friday Island and were treated to a meal of sushi, sashimi, tempura and rice pudding.
Thanks to all the staff, students and Mr Keenan at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in Thursday Island for their generous hospitality.
I know that we will never forget the memories that we have made and will treasure the stories we have created forever.