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School excursion

Special Offer

Muttonbirds by moonlight

Stage 2 (Years 3-4), Geography, Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve


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Join us at twilight for a fascinating exploration of Muttonbird Island and its nesting rookery for thousands of wedge-tailed shearwaters. This Stage 2 (Years 3-4) Geography excursion examines the features and characteristics of this unique place and environment. 

Read more about Muttonbirds by moonlight

Students explore the ways people interact with this place and how this special place and its seasonal visitors are protected.

As the sun sets over Coffs Harbour, thousands of wedge-tailed shearwaters (muttonbirds) return to their nesting burrows on Muttonbird Island. Here, their hungry partners or chicks await.

Through direct observation of the birds and their environment, students will learn about the life and breeding cycles of these fascinating animals. Well discover why they travel such vast distances to breed and learn about the adaptations that support them in this.

Students will learn about the role of muttonbirds in the cultural and spiritual life of the Gumbaynggirr People, the traditional custodians of this place.

Students acquire and communicate geographical information using geographical tools for inquiry utilising maps and pictures and have the opportunity to observe and record data about birds and burrows.

Students will discuss the impacts of visitors both human and non-human to the island and how these impacts are managed. Together well examine concepts of place, space, interconnection and sustainability to develop a rich understanding of this coastal haven.

This excursion is designed to support the K-10 geography syllabus topic The Earths Environment.

For program outline, safety and practical information about this excursion, see info for teachers

Stage Stage 2 (Years 3-4)
Learning area Geography
Student outcomes

GE2-1. Examines features and characteristics of places and environments

GE2-2. Describes the ways people, places and environments interact

GE2-3. Examines differing perceptions about the management of places and environments


Students will:

  • Recognise that Aboriginal people are the first Australians
  • Make geographical observations of Muttonbird Island; its features, inhabitants and characteristics at dusk
  • Learn about the life and breeding cycles of the wedge-tailed shearwater, and discuss their unique adaptations  
  • Hear stories to understand why this place is important to Gumbaynggirr People, and how they’ve cared for it over generations 

Excursion details

Only available between the months of August to April when the shearwaters are present on the island.
Guided. Available on request.
1hr 30min

$290 per group (includes GST). Maximum 20 students per group. For groups over 20 conditions apply.

Meeting point
The outdoor learning centre located at the base of Muttonbird Island.
If you would like to organise a NPWS school excursion please get in touch with local staff or use the 'Enquire' link for the online form.
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