Canoeing the Murray River (Australia) as Environmental Education: A Tale of Two Rivers

Alistair Stewart


The Murray River, lying at the heart of Australia’s largest catchment, is used extensively in outdoor education programs in south-eastern Australia. Since European settlement the river’s ecological health has declined considerably due to activities such as damming for irrigation and clearing of native vegetation. Colonial notions of how the river ought to behave and be utilized have contributed to the river’s transformation physically, ecologically and culturally. In this critical reflection on practice and experiences I discuss two different outdoor education approaches to encountering the Murray: the river as a venue for canoe journeys; and, the river as a place with a unique ecology, declining health and diverse human relationships and impacts. Contrasting these encounters I draw attention to the need for consideration of the epistemological and ontological dimensions of practice that may shape the educational consequences of an experience.

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Copyright © Canadian Journal of Environmental Education (CJEE) ISSN 1205-5352