An outback camp is giving children from small Queensland schools access to quality sports coaching.

Story Kirsty McKenzie  Photos Ken Brass  

Although Bridget Ryan is surrounded by controlled chaos, the smile on her face says she couldn’t be happier. The teaching principal of Stonehenge State School in far western Queensland is at a sports camp at Windorah, 160km to the south, and her morning task is to shepherd her students through breakfast and get ready for a packed day of activities. The floor of the Windorah Community Centre is strewn with swags, sleeping bags and the odd lost shoe, but Bridget is beaming as she fields a constant stream of requests for advice and assistance. 

“This is why I became a teacher,” she says. “I grew up on the Gold Coast, but I always knew I wanted to work in rural and remote education. Life out here is so different from on the coast and I just love helping to provide the opportunities these children might otherwise miss out on.”

Stonehenge State School is part of a cluster of tiny outback schools called the Outback Advantage Alliance that collaborates throughout the year to give the students experiences of everything from team sports, swimming and arts training, to excursions to Brisbane for leadership training and a trip to Canberra and the snow. The camps and excursions provide much-valued chances for the children to socialise with others their own age and experience activities their city counterparts take for granted.

This story excerpt is from Issue #152

Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2024