During the last few days of Term 2 and the initial week of the holidays, 32 Year 9 boys embarked on an exciting journey to Canberra – our first return tour post-COVID! The main focus of this trip was to immerse the students in Australia's history, culture, heritage, and democracy through various activities and educational programs. We were grateful to receive support from the Australian Government's Parliament and Civics Education Rebate (PACER) program, which contributed $510 per student towards the tour expenses. Their recognition of the significance of such experiences for young Australians in their Civics and Citizenship education is appreciated.

Our adventure commenced late in the evening at Perth airport, where all the students gathered, eagerly anticipating the midnight flight. Our first destination was Sydney, where we had the incredible opportunity to climb the Harbour Bridge. The weather was perfect, and we enjoyed a delightful breakfast beneath the Bridge. Caelyn Beard expressed her enjoyment of the Bridge Climb, remarking on the tour guide's informative insights about the area and the fascinating history of the bridge's creation. Albie Cowan also shared his thoughts on the tour, describing it as a packed trip filled with enjoyable activities that taught them a great deal about how the nation's capital operates. From spending a day in the snow to touring Government House, every experience left a lasting impression.

The tour was a whirlwind of excitement, and we visited numerous attractions, including Parliament House, Museum of Democracy, High Court, Questacon, The Dinosaur Museum, and The Australian Institute of Sport, among others. One of the pleasant surprises was the National Library, where Caelyn was captivated by the display of old and antique items, ranging from the 2006 Olympics torch to Captain Cook's original Journal.

Despite the Australian War Memorial being under renovation, we were fortunate enough to pay our respects and participate in the Last Post Ceremony, during which Jack Sharman and Harrison Agnihotri laid a wreath on behalf of Aquinas. Their gesture was deeply appreciated.

Lastly, we extend our heartfelt thanks to Brendan Crozier, Hannah Smith, and Tyrell Wallam for generously giving up their time to accompany us on this tour. Without their invaluable assistance, this memorable journey would not have been possible. The 2023 tour was undoubtedly the smoothest and most enjoyable one, all thanks to this amazing crew.

Megan Monks
Director Academic Scholars Program