Outdoor classroom

Our School Association is proud to support the Lagoon Park discovery trail and outdoor classroom –  a long term school-community project which aims to celebrate our special place and inspire outdoor learning.

In earlier times the Lagoon Park area was part of ‘Lagoon Farm’, established by Ralph Dodge after whom Dodges Ferry is named. From the mid 1980s it was part of Dodges Ferry Rec Park and the shelter shed was built where the old farmhouse once stood. The gorgeous old blackwood tree inspired the school logo, designed 30 years ago by the parents who lobbied to open a local school for their kids.

Lagoon Park project

2000: Ang Buckley and Grade 6 students clear cumbungi and build the boardwalk with a National Habitat grant and the help of Southern Beaches Landcare Coastcare and local businesses.

August 2013: The outdoor classroom idea was kicked off by a $5000 NAB Schools First Prize for the school (and an iPad for himself) won by then Grade 5 student Ethan Reed.

NAB Schools First student award winner Ethan Reed with Okines Community House Co-ordinator Nat Siggins (left) and Dodges Ferry Primary School Principal Andy Bennett (right) holding the $5000 the school was awarded for Ethan’s school-community partnership idea to create a shared outdoor classroom.

October 2013: Student workshop to develop their outdoor classroom ideas.

April 2014: The Friends of Lagoon Park formed as a sub committee of the School Association, bringing together  school-community partners including  Okines Community House, Okines Community Garden, Southern Beaches Landcare Coastcare, Southern Beaches Historical Society, Sorell Council NRM Facilitator Paul Gray, Sorell Rotary, building designer Rob Henry and others who are working together to make the idea happen.

April 2014: Ethan explained his award winning outdoor classroom idea at the first project meeting.

May 2014: the team developed a discovery trail concept, aiming to link all the significant natural and cultural heritage in the Okines wetlands and foreshore area as learning resources for students and the local community.

In 2000 the waterhole was cleared of cumbungi and the boardwalk built for safe access as part of a student project lead by teacher Ang Buckley with a National Habitat grant and the help of Southern Beaches Landcare Coastcare and local businesses.

Sept 2014: Cumbungi busting at the lagoon with Conservation Volunteers Australia volunteers from Telstra.

March 2015: Community mosaics workshop at Okines

Nov 2015: The community mosaic mural ‘Lagoon Farm’ mosaic panel on the shelter shed completed, featuring the old farmhouse and the boat Ralph Dodge used to ferry people across to Seven Mile Beach in the early 1800’s.


Nov 2015: Wetlands family workshop – mini beasts, cumbungi busting, art, mosaics, including the Lagoon Park sign.

June 2016: ‘Wetlands’ mosaic panel on the shelter shed completed.

Dec 2016: The mosaic Lagoon Park sign installed. The mosaics were made by local children with the wonderful Kerry Howlett. A beautiful map of the area hand drawn by Claire Boost will go on the other side of the sign to show all the bush, beach, garden, playground, community and historical learning features there are to explore and enjoy.

Outdoor classroom strategy

The school-community park and outdoor learning and discovery trail is evolving in stages by connecting existing features, improving facilities and adding learning resources:

  • Protecting access to the frog pond by the path to First Avenue with a temporary farm-style fence (DoE June 2014).
  • Sprucing up the existing shelter shed by the swings, adding windows, themed mosaic panels on both sides of the rear wall, a discovery trail map and seating.
  • Working with the Aboriginal community to create trail features about Tasmanian Aboriginal culture and heritage.
  • Moving the existing Lagoon Farm story board from the Okines Beach foreshore closer to the site of the original farm homestead (where the shelter shed now stands).
  • Liaising on design and siting of new play equipment for upper primary students across the path near the swings (another School Association project installed October 2014).
  • Removing the cumbungi weeds infesting the lagoon and boardwalk at the Okines Beach foreshore and adding interpretation.
  • Developing a school environment management plan to guide maintenance and future development of the wetlands area and improve sustainable school practices.
  • Linking in features and stories about Okines Community House and the Community Garden.
  • Gathering and developing online learning materials for each feature story that link with the Australian curriculum.
  • Adding physical and digital markers, sculpture and art works that identify each feature connected by the discovery trail.
  • Promoting Lagoon Park features as part of future Southern Beaches historic footsteps and foreshore walkway maps.

Okines foreshore shelter shed reno plan @20140619

Dodges Ferry Primary School outdoor classroom project – concept map @20140619

For more details or to contribute to the project please contact Dodges Ferry Primary School on 62658116 or Okines Community House co-ordinator Nat Siggins on 62657016.