Perth Festival opening of Boorna Waanginy: The Trees Speak puts student talent on display
Kings Park will again become a nocturnal wonderland for Boorna Waanginy: The Trees Speak. (Supplied: Perth Festival/Jess Wyld)
When the Perth Festival explodes into life with the internationally renowned event Boorna Waanginy: The Trees Speak, it is the work of thousands of school students that will take centre stage.
- Boorna Waanginy: The Trees Speak is returning to the Perth Festival in February
- The event will use more than double the number of paper lanterns than in 2017
- Students have also designed solutions to help native wildlife for a new program
Students from 47 schools have been busy making the “seedpod” paper lanterns for Seeds of Change, a unique light installation that ends the 1.5-kilometre journey in Kings Park through the six seasons of Western Australia’s Noongar culture.
Almost 2,500 of the hand-made lanterns will be included — more than double the 1,000 in Boorna Waanginy’s 2017 premiere — with each one representing a student’s pledge to protect the state’s unique biodiversity.
Hillcrest Primary School students have been working on their ‘seedpod’ paper lanterns. (ABC News: Briana Shepherd)
Perth Festival’s consulting ecologist, Mandy Bamford, said Boorna Waanginy: The Trees Speak made for a very emotional experience.
“It tells the story of the parallel knowledge of Noongar people and western science, and the parallels are quite powerful,” she said.
“There are particular parts of the story that talk about extinctions and how our biodiversity is threatened.
“Then there’s an incredible message of hope from children and community groups at the end [with Seeds of Change], which shows the power of individuals and ordinary people to make a difference.”
Imaginations on display
Despite unusually wet and cold weather during the event in 2017 limiting crowds expected by organisers, more than 110,000 people walked through the nocturnal wonderland.
To supplement Boorna Waanginy’s return, Perth Festival introduced a new program this year, titled Boodja Djena: Ground Beneath Our Feet.
“With Ground Beneath Our Feet, we’re giving the community the tools to go out there and make a difference,” Ms Bamford said.
Students from Hillcrest Primary School have also been planting native tree clippings. (ABC News: Briana Shepherd)
Already, thousands of students, as well as community groups and individuals, have been taking part.
“I think animals, plants, environment are a great way to engage and enthuse students, so it’s a really good teaching tool,” Ms Bamford said.
“The students have designed their own projects using all those real-world problem-solving skills to come up with real solutions to help native wildlife.
“We’ve been really impressed with what the students have been doing … some have been planting trees, others have been designing insect hotels, or nest boxes for birds, or frog ponds, even designing a roof garden.
“It’s completely up to the imagination of the student.”
Penrhos College students designed these ‘hotels’ for WA’s native bee populations. (ABC News: Briana Shepherd)
Students design solutions
Hillcrest Primary School in Bayswater, which was named the 2018 Waste Wise School of the Year, signed up to Ground Beneath Our Feet after seeing it as a welcome addition to similar projects in which the school was already engaged.
Led by sustainability teacher Rachael Roberts, students have been planting seeds, designing and building native gardens and even creating bush tucker areas on school land.
On the other side of the Swan River, students from Penrhos College have been working on several projects including designing and building native bee hotels and gardens, frog habitats and nesting boxes for local bird species.
Alina Khilinskaya from Penrhos College helped create a Western ground parrot display. (ABC News: Briana Shepherd)
The Year 2 class focused on the Western ground parrot, creating a display to highlight the 140 birds that make up the species’ remaining population in WA.
“[It was] to make people think about them, to help them … to save them,” said Year 2 student Alina Khilinskaya.
For the Year 1 students at Penrhos College, inspiration came from a former class pet.
“We had a pet, Rocky, and he was an oblong turtle,” student Allegra Ong said.
Perth Festival’s consulting ecologist Mandy Bamford says animals help engage students. (ABC News: Briana Shepherd)
“So we decided to help them and then through the process we started thinking about the Western swamp tortoise,” classmate Saskia Tan said.
“And we made a bag to help.”
The class raised $500 by selling the bags, all of which was donated to Perth Zoo’s Western swamp tortoise breeding program.
Perth Festival runs from February 8 to March 3, 2019.
Boorna Waanginy: The Trees Speak attracted 110,000 people to Kings Park in 2017.
(Supplied: Perth Festival/Jess Wyld)