The humble backpack is unassuming, dull, and unbecoming in appearance. It is, however, also an iconic symbol of adventure, one that embodies being brave, strong, and pioneering. It is an essential accompaniment, familiar to each Grammar girl who has participated in the School’s Outdoor Education Program, Duke of Edinburgh expeditions, and Antipodeans Aboard journeys of international discovery.
The School has always encouraged girls to look outward—to explore and understand their impact on the world—and school camps and excursions were regularly reported on in the School Magazine from the 1960s. Destinations such as Central Australia, Heron Island, Fraser Island, Robinson Gorge, Central Queensland, Binna Burra, Camp Warrawee, and more recently, India, Africa, Southeast Asia, and Peru, all enticed adventurous Grammar girls.
The backpack can stimulate mixed emotions. On one level, it can be intimidating, symbolising struggle and frustration because of its inherent discomfort and physical challenge. However, it can also induce a sense of empowerment, proficiency, and strength. Students believe they can face whatever comes with a well-packed backpack. In the event they have forgotten something, a different pioneering spirit emerges in being able to adapt and creatively problem solve—essential elements in every student’s arsenal.
First purchased for Year 9 camps to Lake Cootharaba in 1983, this Wilderness Equipment original backpack is still in use today. It has accompanied many Grammar girls seeking to fulfill her Duke of Edinburgh commitments, improve her rating in the Outdoor Education component of Senior Physical Education, or simply trying to master the basics of her first Marrapatta experience. It has taken the young Grammar girl from learning to cook, camp, and canoe in Years 7 and 8 to the seasoned student progressing to self-directed expeditions and worldwide adventurous challenges. The backpack has been a companion on each journey of discovery.
For 46 years, passionate teachers have organised outdoor experiences to complement and expand Grammar girls’ academic learning. After the tragedy of the Christmas Creek Bus Accident, this belief strengthened with the School’s commitment to a dedicated campus and the opening of the Marrapatta Memorial Outdoor Education Centre in 1987. Pioneering as an educational methodology for its time, and brave in the face of tragedy, Brisbane Girls Grammar School continues to be the only girls’ school in Queensland with a dedicated Outdoor Education Centre.
Emblematic of this commitment, the well-used backpack is, thus, a constant reminder of the belief that girls deserve the opportunity to challenge themselves and expand their horizons.
Mrs Carol McIntosh
Marrapatta Outdoor Education Staff