FOUR Bombala and 25 Monaro High School HSC students participated in a 16-day tour of Pompeii, ancient Rome and the Western Front during the Easter holidays.
Bombala students Sarah Marion, Jacob Litchfield, Russell Devine and Lydia Yelds were fantastic ambassadors for both Bombala High School and Australia.
This tour was specifically designed to give students first-hand experiences of significant sites in the ancient history and modern history HSC curriculums.
After a good night’s rest to recover from the long flights which constituted day one and two of the tour, the group visited the archaeological site of Pompeii, a core study for all ancient history students.
The group was able to explore the site gaining valuable firsthand knowledge of all aspects of the site, giving them an edge over other students in the HSC examinations.
Renowned Australian archaeologist Dr Estelle Lazer escorted students during the day, sharing her knowledge and experiences investigating the site as well as taking the group to parts of the site that are not normally explored by the average tourist.
Dr Lazer joined the group for dinner after giving a lecture detailing many of the topics students need to know for their examinations at the end of the year.
The following day the group visited the archaeological museum of Naples which houses the artefacts discovered at Pompeii and Herculaneum.
That afternoon the group visited the archaeological site of Herculaneum.
Again students were accompanied by an expert who engaged in a range of academic discussions regarding the condition and maintenance of the site, possible interpretations of the site and implications for the future of the site providing a rich experience that students can draw from during their HSC preparations.
On the sixth day of the tour the group was able to inspect Mt Vesuvius and the bay of Naples from the distance as well as explore the island of Capri.
The following day, despite the cloud cover the group climbed Mt Vesuvius.
This allowed students to inspect the crater of the volcano, look closely at the nature of the pumice and material that contributed to the destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum, as well as appreciation of the extent to which Mt Vesuvius dominates the Bay of Naples.
From Vesuvius, the group travelled by coach to Rome.
That evening Roman historian Agnes Crawford delivered a lecture on the founding of Rome and an overview of the course of its history, identifying the buildings and sites we would visit the next day.
Days 7 and 8 were very busy days for the group with walking tours of classical Rome and the Vatican Museum and St Pete’s.
Highlights included visits to the Colosseum, The Arch of Titus, Basilica of Maxentius, House of the Temple of the Vestal Virigins, Regia, Alter and Temple of Julius Caesar, Comitium, Curia and Rostra along with visits to the Ara Pacis, Castel Sant Angelo, the Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica.
Between visiting each of these significant sites students were also able to visit other beautiful features of Rome including the Pantheon, Piazzo Navona, Campo de’Fiori and the Trevi fountain. Day 9 was a more leisurely day with an exploration of Hadrian’s Villa.
The following day the group left the ancient world for the modern with a quick flight to Brussels and then onto Ypres.
Students were given the opportunity to explore this quiet Belgian town which has a unique love for Australians.
Students were able to sample the local cuisine of waffles and chocolate.
Ypres saw concentrated fighting during WW1, in which many Australians gave their lives on the battlefields of the western front.
That evening the group participated in the Last Post ceremony at Menin Gate.
Another Australian group, a student choral group from Tasmania performed “I still call Australia home” and the national Anthem.
This, along with the laying of a wreath, and the poignancy of the way in which Australian soldiers are remembered on foreign soil touched the hearts of all and brought a tear to the eye of many.
Days 11 through 13 saw the group explore the many cemeteries and battle fields of the Western Front.
The students were privileged to be accompanied by Australian history expert Brad Manera who shared his extensive expertise of Australian troop movements, battles and tactics providing first-hand knowledge and experiences for the core study for Modern History students.
The group visited a number of significant sites along the western front including Bayernwald, Polygon Wood, Passendale museum and trenches, Hill 60, Beaumont-Hamel, Villers-Brettoneux, Le Hamel and Poziers.
As the group explored these battlefields Brad detailed the nature of the battles, the movements of troops, positions and tactics as well as the personal tales of a number of Australian soldiers.
As they visited the many Commonwealth cemeteries of the area, a number of students were able to pay respects to ancestors who had fought and died on the western front.
Again, each of these visits touched the hearts of all.
As day 13 drew to a close the group travelled to Paris for the last experiences of the tour.
On day 14 a walking tour of Paris was to be the last leg of the tour. In the morning they visited the Les Invalides Military Museum and the Tomb of Napoleon.
Students were able to explore aspects of the world’s military history with modern history students gaining valuable knowledge in the World War 1 and II sections.
This was followed by a visit to the top of the Eiffel Tower.
After lunch they visited the bridge of the Locks before heading back to the hotel to head off to the airport for their departing flight.
This once in a lifetime experience was thoroughly enjoyed by all, with students able to engage in many of the significant sites they study in class.
This along with the experts who led us throughout the tour will not only give these students an edge over other HSC students but has also given them an enriching experience that many from remote country towns such as theirs may never get.
Bombala High School intends to offer similar tours in the future and the success of this tour is just another example of how the little school is providing big opportunities for local students.