Pioneering Outdoor Education

Ironbark is a pioneering outdoor education program based at the College’s Ironbark Centre near Crows Nest, Queensland. For five weeks in Year 9, St Peters Springfield students are required to live and breathe farm life, free from the distractions of electronic media (mobiles, TVs and computers). The program focusses on the values of community, commitment and connection. Students are encouraged to discover strength born of teamwork and persistence and to awaken their individual capabilities.

Four main elements make up the Ironbark program:

  • Outdoor pursuits
  • Farm skills
  • Environmental awareness 
  • Community living

Students immerse themselves in all of these elements across the over 600ha property. Each activity is designed to challenge and develop—from handling livestock, to gardening; hiking to abseiling; blacksmithing to meal preparation; and bushcraft to dormitory living.

Ironbark History

Ironbark began in 1976. The program was the brainchild of then Head of College, Dr Carson Dron, who sought a new way to develop St Peters students. Dr Dron believed, passionately, in exposing students to the natural environment—he knew that, by creating opportunities where students would be challenged physically, spiritually, intellectually, emotionally and socially in the context of the outdoors, he could set them apart. For generations, he has been proven right. Students consistently return from Ironbark stronger, wiser, more resilient and more self-confident. The program has become a rite of passage for St Peters students, both at the Indooroopilly and Springfield campus.

Over the years, the Ironbark program has seen minor changes (reducing in length and being offered to different year levels), but the overall aims and values have stayed the same. The benefits of the program have been recognised by schools and colleges all around Australia and, in 2018, St Peters Student Counsellors, Dr Matt O’Connor and Dr Ellie Keane, formalised these benefits in their Ironbark Research Report. The Ironbark Research Report examines the positive and important impact that Ironbark has on students. 

“At Ironbark, we focus on personal growth and development. It’s a real joy to be part of giving these students new experiences, new opportunities and helping them to learn more about themselves in the process, within a Christian context.” 
Matthew Sullivan, Director of Ironbark.


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