|National Library of Australia photo of Ostriches at Quarantine Station taken in 1995|
These Grade 2-3 social scientists are uncovering local history. The topic of concern this week--the defunct Quarantine Station--once formed an important part of what we now call the 'biosecurity' of Australia. By joining them, I had the chance to learn a lot about life on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
|Nek Diana (Nek Didi); Mr Wicks (Pak Tali); Mak Maesha|
The field trip was organised by Social Studies teacher Mr Wicks. Fortunately, Nek Diana, a former employee at the Quarantine Station, agreed to give us a tour. The children had prepared all the right questions; Nek, Mak Mia and Mak Mae helped translate and keep everything running smoothly; I simply had to relax and learn.
|National Library of Australia photo of Quarantine Station taken in 1995|
|Cocos (Keeling) Islands Quarantine Station First Day Cover|
The concrete for the brick buildings was laid by the Cocos Co-op under Nek Ainul and Nek Jamil. Workers from Australian mainland helped build the structures.
Before the tour began Nek Didi explained to us that the animals' blood would be tested. This would ensure that sick animals would not make it to the mainland. Either they would be cured at the Quarantine Station or put down. For larger animals, Nek Didi told us, they would use a gun. The area of the Quarantine Station is large because the animals needed space to exercise.
First, Nek Didi took us to the barn where they had a machine for making animal food. This machine mixed and pressed grass clippings to make food pellets for the sick animals.
Then we looked at the composting area, where all the waste and dead carcasses were transformed into fertiliser for the fields of the station. The composting area was behind the shed where all the hazardous materials were stored.
|Shed for hazardous materials, behind which the composting occurred.|
After that, Nek Didi took as into the barns where the animals were washed.
|Barns for animal washing? 1995|
|Mr Wicks and students inspect the same (?) washing facilities in 2016.|
At the stocks, the animal is held still for the sample to be taken.
Finally, we headed up to the mess and single men's quarters. The mess, as the students learned, is a place where people eat. Quarters are places to live for a short while; these quarters were for men who did not have their wives with them, or were unmarried. Nek Didi sometimes resided in the single men's quarters during his working years, because his family lived on Home Island.
I think this was Pak Didi's favourite part of the tour. Maybe he liked that it was all well maintained. Maybe it was because he had so many nice memories from the time after 'knocking off' (finishing work) for the day. He was very happy to see the BBQ and remember the good times
Analysis: Social Studies and Social Sciences
Generally, social sciences are distinguished from the 'hard sciences' such as maths, chemistry, and physics. The social sciences are concerned with human life The way social scientists work is basically the same as social studies in school. When social scientists try to understand something, like what life was like working in the Quarantine Station--they start out asking 'who, what, when, where, why, and how' questions. They try to find out how things looked to people involved; like asking Pak Didi about his life working there. They try to visit place that they write about, like going to the Quarantine Station. So whether in social studies and social sciences we use the same techniques to try to understand human life better.
The social studies trip to the Quarantine Station with Nek Didi was a great learning experience for me. It was all thanks to the planning and insight of Mr Wicks, the assistance of Mak Mae, Mak Mia and Nek; the enthusiasm of the social studies students; and, most of all, the expert guidance of Nek Didi. So thank you to Cocos District High School for allowing me join the field trip