CHILDREN from the North-East have been on a rare school trip to the other side of the world.
A group of ten pupils from County Durham flew over 10,000 miles for a two-and-a-half week educational tour of Australia.
The youngsters, from Bullion Lane Primary School, in Chester-le-Street, learned to surf, took part in Aboriginal dancing and saw the sights of Sydney.
Headteacher Sarah Barningham said: “Some of them had never even been on a plane before, so it was a journey-and-a-half for them. But they have loved it. It has been the experience of a lifetime.”
Four adults accompanied the two boys and eight girls, aged ten and 11, for the trip Down Under.
The group flew from Newcastle, via Dubai, to their first stop in Adelaide, where they visited a wildlife park, getting up close and personal with the native animals including wallabies and kangaroos.
Despite freezing temperatures at home, the trip in early February, was during the southern hemisphere summer, so the children were able to soak up the rays at the beach and learn to surf in the ocean.
They flew to Sydney for a two night stay, visiting the famous harbour and the opera house, before another flight to Cairns for snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef and a visit to a rainforest.
Amelyn Wood, 11, from Chester-le-Street, said: “It was such a privilege because lots of people have never done stuff like this before at our age. It was the opposite side of the world, but I don’t think any of us were scared. We were all really excited to go.”
The once-in-a-lifetime trip included new culinary experiences, such as eating kangaroo, crocodile and emu, cooked over an open fire at a night time barbecue.
Megan Wilkinson, 11, from Chester-le-Street, said: “It was absolutely amazing. The dancing with the Aboriginal man was really good fun, but also a bit scary. We also tried some new foods. Kangaroo just tasted like steak, but it was really nice.”
The trip was planned three years ago and pupils had to save around £2,000 to take part.
It was organised and led by deputy headteacher Margaret Lloyd, who was joined by teacher Mark Hood, swimming teacher Marie Brough and parent Debbie Wilkinson.
It is the third time the school has taken children to Australia following previous visits in 2009 and 2013.
The group stayed in cabins on a holiday site in Adelaide, then in apartments in the city in Sydney, before spending a week in Cairns in a villa with a swimming pool in the garden.
Mrs Lloyd said: “They was not necessarily the children of more affluent parents. It was a case of the children and their parents saving for them to go. Every day we were doing something different, taking them to experience something new. They had the time of their lives and have soaked it all up.”