Stanley River Environmental Education Centre’s (SREEC) biennial Bunya to the Bay Eco Adventure has taken out the coveted Minister’s Grand Prize in the 2017 Healthy Land and Water Awards as well as the Sustainable Education Award.

Australian Heritage Specialists (AHS) is a corporate partner in the program and has been instrumental in facilitating the positive participation of Traditional Owners in the project.

The eco-challenge is a multi-faceted program open to students in years 11-12 which provides an innovative approach towards learning and allows participants to gain an appreciation of the environment they travel through from an Indigenous heritage perspective.

During the eco-challenge, students follow the Brisbane River from its upper reaches down to Moreton Bay using canoes and bicycles, covering 346 kilometres and gaining first-hand knowledge of the many facets of the river.

In the tradition of ancient journeys, students travel across five local council areas and four traditional Aboriginal Countries during the week-long program.

Students learn culture from Elders as they are welcomed to Wakka Wakka Country and are given a message stick to ensure safe travels to follow the river through Jinibara Country and Jagera Country, before ending their journey in Quandamooka Country.

AHS Principal Consultant Benjamin Gall said the program provided an important role in the promotion and conservation of cultural heritage and he praised SCREEC for their unique approach to learning.

“This actually makes a difference to the lives of the students who participate, many of whom would not otherwise get an opportunity like this,” Mr Gall said

The 2016 program saw teenagers from a diverse range of backgrounds, including those from regional and remote locations.

Students engaged in activities such as water monitoring, vegetation assessment, riparian studies, photography and land management studies.