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Frog Zone

 

How It All Came About

Dulwich Hill Public School officially launched its Frog Pond on World Environment Day, 5 June 1998. It was opened by representatives of the Metropolitan Land Council and AECG.

We had been worried that the local frogs were endangered by the polluted water which flows through the storm water drain. The drain used to be a creek flowing right through where our playground is now! One of our parents has written a history of the site showing us where, before development, the stream crossed the playground. We were also concerned that the frogs might disappear because children couldn't resist finding a way through the fence to collect tadpoles!

We applied to the Minister for the Environment through Marrickville Council and to the Zoo's Reader's Digest Environment Awards in the hope of getting some money to build our own refuge in our playground. We received a grant of $1,000 from the Minister for the Environment which was presented to us by Mr Paul Whelan early in 1997. We also won the primary schools section of the Reader's Digest Awards, a prize of $3,000! We are very grateful to both organisations that they could see the importance of what we were trying to do.

Naming of the Frog Pond

We are proud to have given our Frog Refuge the name Gung Gung Gawi, which means "Frogs, Come Back". This name belongs to the Eora people who lived here for many thousands of years. We honour the Eora people whose way of life did not endanger the animal species and waterways of this area.

We have a beautiful sandstone sculpture with a plaque which will let everyone know about this special place, and are very grateful to Mr Joe Hurst, for designing the sculpture and plaque, and to Mr Chris Bennetts, the sculptor.

The Environmental Awards

We are also proud to have hosted the Launch of the Taronga Zoo's Environment Awards for 1998. The Zoo's work means that other schools can also be helped to welcome back native species to live in harmony with humans.

Our Co-Existence

For longer than memories can tell, Sydney has been the land of Indigenous Australians. In this place, which is now surrounded by houses and factories, a fresh water creek flowed between stands of ironbark, paperbark and turpentine trees. Frogs, fish, reptiles, birds, monotremes and marsupials would have shared this water with humans.
Since 1975, this land has been used as a place for children to learn. The children speak languages from all over the world. Their families have seen many places across Earth that have been changed by humans.

The children at Dulwich Hill believe that it is possible for humans to share the environment with native animals and plants, so we have given this place back to the Indigenous species. We hope Gung Gung Gawi will be a refuge for frogs, birds and plants to live in peace for a long, long time.

Humans are welcome to visit, to learn and to reflect on the importance of knowing our history in order to build our future.

Language Makes the Difference

We are so fortunate, at Dulwich Hill Public School, to be able to learn alongside Indigenous students and students whose families come from all over the world. We speak about forty languages and we can use all those languages to tell people across the world how to bring back their native animals and plants. We know that where there are frogs, this is a sign of a healthy environment. So let's say 'Frogs come back' all over the world!

We hope you will tell our story, in your language, to others around the world so they might find a place to give back, too.

Information

Our playground has become a shared community space. We have been revegetating the grounds with native species and recreating a variety of small eco-systems which will 'Welcome Back' native fauna to the area. This project focused on returning an area (which was once a stream) to a wetland so that the native Striped Marsh Frogs (Limnodynastes peronii) which have struggled to survive on adjacent State Rail property can find a secure place for breeding.

With much needed advice from Marrickville Council's Environment staff and a local specialist in frog refuges, we designed a space around which mounds were built. These mounds channel water flow, allowing the area to remain boggy. The Marrickville Community Nursery also greatly assisted our efforts by generating some native species of reeds, grasses & sedges which were not only appropriate to the area but are now thriving.

So we have created a natural wetland environment, returning some of the frog population to a safe zone for breeding. The area is accessible for study by our students who will maintain responsibility for the welfare of the frogs.

There are two species of frogs in our refuge so far: 

  • Striped Marsh Frog 
  • Pobblebonk Frog

Both species have now bred in the refuge.

We have planted a number of special and rare plants, which were also indigenous to this area.

As well as frogs, we hope to attract blue wrens and other native birds to nest.

A number of other animals are already moving in to enjoy the peace and the food supply!

When visiting, we ask visitors to respect that this is no longer human territory. Travel gently and allow the flora and fauna the right to be...

Why Our Frog Pond is Important to Our Learning

Dulwich Hill is an inner urban area with little natural ecology remaining to help students understand what existed prior to urban development.

As so many of our students' families are from overseas, most students have only vicarious experience of a non-urban Australia, its flora and fauna.

For this reason, we felt it important to recreate actual eco-systems where relevant and possible, allowing children to both experience and manage directly the balance of these systems.

How our Students Learn

  • Kindergarten and Stage 1 (Years 1 and 2) work on Fact and Fiction compares scientific descriptions to fictional constructions of animals including frogs. 
  •  Students in Stage 2 (Years 3 and 4) study Lifecycles as part of their Science program. Teachers have written an integrated unit of study specifically on Frogs, which is part of a whole school resource. 
  •  Stage 3 students (Years 5 and 6), the syllabus includes study into the effects of human activity on the environment and addressing some problems of environmental damage.

New Arrival Students

The building process of the Frog Pond was a part of the English program for new arrival students learning English for the first time. The English program incorporates knowledge of Australian species and environments and gives new students a sense of ownership, responsibility and understanding of their new environment.

A Special Thanks!          Sue - Principal at the time and under whose project management this was brought to fruition.  

We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to all the students, parents, friends and many others who worked tirelessly, devoting their time and efforts to help us create our Frog Pond.

Thank you for making it happen!