A Journey into the Heart of Grampians
Updated: Jan 16, 2020
The Beyond Melbourne Ambassadors Project (BMAP) is a student-led initiative in which international students in Voctoria are given chances to plan and engage in cultural activities and exploration in Victoria’s rural region. Supported by OutBeyond as our lead organisation, this project aims to increase students’ confidence and build a number of key employability skills such as leadership, communication, creativity, and cross-cultural collaboration.
The past three months have been incredibly insightful and engaging for those who are involved in BMAP, especially for the international students who became the ambassadors of this project. Not only have we learned about different cultures from our fellow ambassadors but we have also been immersed in a learning process of developing different perspectives during the process of preparing and participating in BMAP cultural explorations.
Group photo during the launch event
The initial journey of BMAP was started by the Lead Student Ambassadors who serve as student interns of the project by means of conducting the BMAP launch event as can be seen in the picture above. The launch event allowed the participants to grasp a deeper understanding of the values that the project could offer for them. Thereafter, the application process of selecting the ambassadors was done through the student-led interviews and facilitated by the Lead Student Ambassadors in the form of group discussions and leadership activities.
One of the groups during the interview session where many of the participants learned how to pitch a tent for the first time
Group photo after the workshops
Subsequently, the successful applicants for the ambassadors of BMAP were thus granted the opportunity to participate in the cultural exploration trips which include destinations like the Grampians, Cape Otway, Mornington Peninsula, and Phillip Island. Ambassadors were also given privileges to take part in a pre-departure employability workshop which had distinguished speakers who imparted much-needed knowledge and insights for us to stand out from the crowd and become job-ready.
The Grampians was the first of the regional Victoria destinations in which students from multicultural backgrounds had the opportunity to participate in a three day, two night outdoor nature-based cultural explorations of the region.
During the welcoming ceremony - Serena Eldridge, business manager at Grampians Tourism warmly welcoming the BMAP ambassadors
Arriving at Halls Gap Information Centre as our first destination throughout the trip, Serena Eldridge, the Business Manager at Grampians Tourism welcomed all of the participants with open arms. To promote connection and knowledge across local Australian communities, including Aboriginal communities and the Grampians Tourism as the peak tourism body, the visitation to Brambuk Cultural Centre was organised. At that time, ambassadors had the opportunity to watch the award-winning multimedia presentations in the Gariwerd Dreaming Theatre. The highlight on our first day was the Pinnacle Walk and Lookout in which students were rewarded with stunning views of Hall’s Gap and The Grampian’s peaks. Moreover, the team building game facilitated by Lead Student Ambassadors gave us a chance to interact directly with the team consisting of students coming from different countries to better foster our cross-cultural communication skills.
Brambuk the National Park and Cultural Centre - BMAP ambassadors overlooking the centre
Photo of the Borough Huts Campground
Rock climbing, abseiling, and conservation activities further enhanced experiential learning elements for participants. For instance, all students who did rock climbing and abseiling learned valuable lessons such as love and respect for nature, overcoming fears, and concentration. During the conservation activities, BMAP ambassadors were given the priceless opportunity to give back to the Grampians local community by doing a series of volunteering activities. After that, we had the chance to pitch our own tent, have a barbecue, and explore Fyans Creek where we saw a field filled with kangaroos. At the end of the day, a bonfire was held at the Borough Huts Campground which provided warmth and lightened up the atmosphere.
One of the BMAP ambassadors, Deepta Dibakar enjoying the rock climbing activity
Smiley faces of BMAP ambassadors before starting the conservation activity at Halls Gap Botanic Garden
Group photo of BMAP ambassadors with Marc Sleeman, CEO of Grampians Tourism and Joel Thompson, Founder, Managing Director of OutBeyond
On the last day, participants had the chance to meet Marc Sleeman, the CEO of Grampians Tourism and during our conversations with him, we managed to have a better understanding of the local business and blueprint of Grampians for operating successfully within the Victorian region. Next, we took a trip where we walked down the steep trail which led to the magnificent MacKenzie Falls. Following the waterfall was the visit to Lake Bellfield where we learned how to throw a boomerang, a well-known used weapon by indigenous Australians for hunting. Last but not least, we delivered a post-presentation pitch which showcased our experience throughout the whole trip and at the same time, propose fresh, new ideas to attract more international students and their visiting friends and relatives (VFR) to visit the Grampians in the future.
BMAP At MacKenzie Falls
Photo of BMAP project manager Dana Wu
Post Presentation Pitch
The strong linkages and collaborations forged by BMAP with our stakeholders made it possible for international students to take part in this wonderful project. The abundant support from the Grampians Tourism as well as the local community allowed us to be advocates for the beautiful region, which is evident by how our project made it into the Stawell Times-News as the Ararat local newspaper
(https://www.stawelltimes.com.au/story/6503459/students-become-advocates-for-tourism/?cs=1536&fbclid=IwAR1miF3osEog50eJw3KpxbJ9G7QqAoctPOBHT2ykltGfyZbUcLmz7ZxcnDA). In addition, the funding and continuous support from the Victorian Government and Study Melbourne have undoubtedly allowed us international students along with our friends and relatives to enjoy the amazing experience that Victoria can offer.
Until we meet again, Grampians!