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Ardross Year 5 and 6 students travelled to a site south of the Yarloop area that was ravaged by bushfire last January, to observe regrowth and to help revegetate bushland. This action was initiated by Ardross River Rangers Cadet students who were concerned about the welfare of endangered Carnaby’s and Red Tailed Black Cockatoos. In conjunction with Waroona District High School Bush Rangers they planted 2000 Marri trees to provide food source and habitat. The project was supported by the Rotary Club of Melville, PALS, Lotteries West, the Shires of Harvey, Waroona and Cadets WA.


One of the processes that sets Ardross Primary apart, is the use of its unique OPTS system to create meaningful integrated projects. Students are trained to:

O – Observe problems or opportunities

P – Plan possible actions

T – Take action using a timeline

S – Share and celebrate their successes.

Parents and teachers at Ardross also use the OPTS model to develop innovative programs which enrich the dynamic nature of Ardross and lead to amazing high quality academic and social outcomes.


The Black Cockatoo Project



Early this year several students, came up with an OPTS plan to hold a “Fire and Feathers” Dress-up Day to raise money to rehabilitate Black Cockatoos which were affected by the bush fires that devastated the Yarloop area at Christmas.


The students set a date, created posters using their original photographs, promoted the event at assemblies and collected the gold coin donations from the school’s 400 staff and students who dressed up for the day.

They raised $408 which was sent to Kaarakin Black Cockatoo Recovery Centre. In appreciation, Kaarakin reciprocated with a school visit from two birds, Chasey and Rex, and presented the Ardross classes with ten Adoption Certificates.

Teachers supported the project by incorporating Black Cockatoos into their classroom lessons:

English – Reading comprehension and string poetry writing about cockatoos

Maths – 2D enlarging of black cockatoos from photos onto large sheets of paper

T & E - designing a play area in a disused garden space and naming it the “Ngoorlak wer Karak Marlak” (White and Red Tailed Black Cockatoo Bush)

Arts – painting a mural using black hand prints as black cockatoo wings, making sculptures from red black and white recycled materials, creating original lyrics to music and playing it on ukuleles and performing an assembly drama based on a text reconstruction called “Cocky Locks and the Three Black Cockatoos”

Science – investigating the effects of bush fire heat on native seeds by using smoke and hot water treatments before planting

HASS – researching information the effects of fire on plants and animals, including the effective use of firestick farming by Aboriginal custodians

Health – discussing about how communities in crisis can be supported by active citizenship

LOTE – Learning the Noongar names of 24 local birds, including the names of two black cockatoo species, Ngoorlak and Karak, at whole school assemblies.

Take action

These activities lead to the creation of an additional project named, “The Great Marri Plant Out”, after the students suggested growing some extra trees in the Ardross Native Plant Nurser to replace food sources and habitats of the Black Cockatoos.

Contact was made with Shires of Waroona and Harvey to prepare a suitable planting site and with the Rotary Club of Melville, who provided a grant of $1 per seedling to assist with this sustainability initiative. During February, 2000 Marri seeds were planted by our students and the arrangements were made for an excursion to Yarloop to plant them. 

On an icy morning in June, 70 Ardross River Ranger students travelled south in buses funded by PALS and Lotteries West Grant. They met up with 12 Waroona DHS Bush Ranger Cadets and the Environmental Officer from the Shire of Harvey, at a degraded bush area just south of the original fire zone. In small groups, the wonderfully enthusiastic children efficiently planted a massive total of 1894 Marri seedlings within two hours.

Walking along the furrows that had been ripped in preparation for the plant-out, the River Rangers worked in teams of six with a supervising adult or Bush Ranger, to plant an average of 200 trees per group. They used an innovative planting system developed by Ardross Sustainability Coordinator, Bruce Ivers, which incorporates the use of metal tree planters and tree carriers made from recycled farm containers.

Later, sitting in a grove of surviving Marri trees everyone listened to the fire experiences of several Yarloop students and adults, bringing a personal perspective to their understanding of the bush fire disaster and their role in supporting a solution. In the afternoon, the students visited the nearby Hamel Eco Park to assess its attractiveness to children and to make suggestions for future developments. This was yet another opportunity for them to be involved in an authentic task which will have a positive impact on others and the environment.


In order to share their experiences with others, our team of 20 Environmental Student Councillors will travel to Baldivis Children’s Forest in September for the “Kids Teaching Kids Conference”. They will explain what they achieved with their Black Cockatoo project and run an art session, where students from other schools will have the opportunity to create a painting of a fire scene showing black cockatoos escaping from flames.