School excursion

Living with fire

Stage 3 (Years 5-6), Geography, Blackheath area in Blue Mountains National Park

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Learn about the Black Summer fires as they happened in the Blue Mountains in 2020. In this Stage 3 Geography excursion, we look at different approaches to preventing and managing fires, and how these approaches are applied.

Read more about Living with fire

Students will take a guided bushwalk with a Discovery Ranger and be introduced to the factors that combined to create our worst ever fire season.

We will observe the impacts in the landscape and explore the more personal impacts of the Black Summer fires. We look at fire practices of First Nations people, and of other organisations such as National Parks and local government. How do different groups work together to address the threat of fire? What are the responsibilities of residents and all Australians to stay safe? These and other questions will be explored in this experiential excursion. An optional additional session with an Indigenous Ranger is available, to explore links between fire and culture more deeply.

This session is designed to support the Factors that Shape Places syllabus.

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

Stage Stage 3 (Years 5-6)
Learning area Geography
Student outcomes

GE3-1. Describes the diverse features and characteristics of places and environments

GE3-2. Explains interactions and connections between people, places and environments

GE3-3. Compares and contrasts influences on the management of places and environments

GE3-4. Acquires, processes and communicates geographical information using geographical tools for inquiry


Students will:

  • Use a topographic map to learn about the unique features of the Blue Mountains, and how these features contributed to risk of catastrophic fire.
  • Observe and discuss the physical impacts of the fires on the landscape, plants and animals of the Blue Mountains.
  • Explore Indigenous approaches to the use of fire for land management.
  • Examine the ways various organisations act to prevent, manage and repair impacts of fire.
  • Understand the responsibilities of ordinary citizens in living alongside the threat of major fires.

Excursion details


Monday to Friday during school term.

2hrs 30min

Prices start from $395 incl GST per group (up to 20 students).

Meeting point
  • Blackheath: Blue Mountains Heritage Centre, Govetts Leap Road, Blackheath
  • Other locations by request
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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Info for teachers

All the practical information you need to know about Living with fire.

Program outline

  • Welcome, acknowledgement of Country and safety briefing 
  • Aboriginal culture and fire
  • Fire management practices
  • Field work – overview of the Fairfax track fire
  • How humans cope with fire – staying safe
  • Farewell and depart

Getting there and parking

You can reach Fairfax Heritage walking track from the Blue Mountains Heritage Centre, located in the Blackheath area of Blue Mountains National Park:

  • Take the Great Western Highway to Blackheath. Turn right at the Blackheath traffic lights onto Govetts Leap Road.
  • Drive for 2.5km. After passing through the park entrance, take the second exit from the roundabout where there is coach parking.


Parking is available at Blue Mountains Heritage Centre, including several designated disabled spots.

Bus and coach parking is available.

What to bring

Please wear long pants, closed comfortable shoes and bring a hat and sunscreen. Be ready for all weather conditions with a jumper and raincoat. Remember to bring extra food and water and any necessary medications. Please bring your belongings in a backpack rather than a plastic bag.

Maps and downloads

Safety messages

Pre activity briefing: participants will be briefed at the start of the activity/day.

Safety equipment: NPWS staff carry radios and first aid kits, hold current first aid certificates and are aware of emergency procedures.

Staff accreditation: NPWS staff have current Senior First Aid accreditation. They are experienced in working with groups of students in the natural environment and have excellent knowledge of the specific areas they are visiting including potential hazards. NPWS is committed to a Child Safe and Friendly Environment. Our staff have been screened for child-related employment and have completed a Working with Children Check.

Emergencies: NPWS staff are trained to deal with emergencies and emergency procedures are in place. Ongoing supervision of a student following first aid treatment will be the responsibility of the visiting school.

Risk assessment and risk benefits

Our rangers and guides have the technical skill and experience to assess the risks and the benefits of a variety of activities delivered as part of our learning programs.

We believe in including opportunities that allow students to learn and experience for themselves through exploration in the natural environment.

Please make your own risk assessment based on the information provided. Detailed potential risks and controls are provided for the site to assist teachers in risk management planning. Teachers and carers should be aware of, and consider the needs, abilities and medical conditions of students when visiting this site. The supervision of students remains the responsibility of the teacher. The school must ensure an adequate number of adult supervisors are present.


Disability access level - easy

There are no stairs on this walk and it is mostly downhill. Pathways are wide and relatively flat.

Easy access is free of obstacles such as steps, rough terrain or significant slopes, and may have ramps or boardwalks.