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Big roos to help Kangaroo Island bounce back

Rebecca Baker, February 10, 2021 6:45PM The Advertiser

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Students Eddie, Jiayi and Millie with some of the kangaroo sculptures at St John's Grammar School, South Australia. Picture: Keryn Stevens media_cameraStudents Eddie, Jiayi and Millie with some of the kangaroo sculptures at St John's Grammar School, South Australia. Picture: Keryn Stevens


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A mob of roos is about to be moved off the front lawn of an Adelaide school, but it’s not because they’re eating too much grass. It’s all for a good cause.

The life-size, colourful fibreglass kangaroos, each painted by a South Australian artist, are to be auctioned this month to raise money for bushfire recovery.

The idea for the fundraiser came from the art department at St John’s Grammar School shortly after last summer’s bushfires ravaged* the Adelaide Hills and Kangaroo Island.

Dawn Clarke, head of art at the school, said initially the idea had been to create a sculpture park around the school.

“However, when the bushfires happened it took a different direction … we were looking at the news and the press* and just overwhelmed by what was going on and thought, ‘we’ve got to do something’,” she said.

“So we came up with the idea of auctioning off the roos we had, as well as trying to get more artists on board … it quickly developed into a very big project.”

Fibreglass roos on the lawns in front of St John's Grammar School, Belair, will be auctioned to raise money for bushfire recovery on KI. Picture supplied media_cameraFibreglass roos on the lawns in front of St John’s Grammar School, Belair, South Australia, will be auctioned to raise money for bushfire recovery on Kangaroo Island. Picture: supplied

Visual arts teacher Kate Wright said the concept had been embraced by leading SA artists including Tiff Manuell, Ty Manning, Dana Kinter, Thomas Readett, Dan Withey and Uncle Tamaru (Kartinyeri).

She said it had also proved an invaluable experience for students, with some contributing to the painting of some of the sculptures created locally by Uracast.

“It’s been really powerful and allowed us to show our students art for art’s sake is lovely but it’s also shown them the power of art in times of crisis,” she said.

There are eight large roos (1.24m high and 2.24m wide) and 10 small roos (18cm x 38cm) to be auctioned on February 21 with all money raised to go to Kangaroo Island-based charities, the Glossy Black Cockatoo Project and Kangala Kangaroo and Wildlife Rescue.

For more information, contact the school or look up Whitechapel Art Gallery on Facebook or Instagram.

KI BUSHFIRE media_cameraKangaroo Island Wilderness Retreat on South Coast Road, Flinders Chase, Kangaroo Island, South Australia, after fire burnt the area on January 4, 2020. Picture: Emma Brasier

We want primary and secondary school students around the country — particularly those in fire-affected regions — to share their experiences of the Black Summer bushfires.

The Kids News Bushfire Poetry Competition is open to children around Australia.

Two poems — one from a primary student and one from a secondary student — will be chosen to feature in a book commemorating a year since the Black Summer bushfires.

The book, a joint project between HarperCollins, News Corp Australia and the National Bushfire Recovery Agency, will be distributed to schools and libraries in bushfire-affected regions, as well as sold in bookstores throughout Australia.

You can read more about the competition HERE

Your poem cannot be more than 200 words (1400 characters). You will need your teacher or parent/guardian to submit your entry for you, as well as permission from your parent or guardian.

Entries close at 5pm on February 20, 2021.

Entry form below


  • ravaged: badly damaged
  • press: printed media, such as newspapers


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  1. What are the kangaroos made of?
  2. Who painted them?
  3. What was the original idea, before the project became a fundraiser?
  4. Why is the school raising money?
  5. How many kangaroos are there?


1. Inspired Kangaroos
Leading Australian artists have adorned some of the kangaroos with their designs. Can you imagine what they might look like featuring art inspired by some of the world’s most well-known artists? Choose an artist whose style you admire and draw or paint what you think a kangaroo painted by them might look like.

Some suggested artists you might take inspiration from: Jackson Pollock, Vincent van Gogh, Piet Mondrian, Roy Lichtenstein.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: Visual Arts

2. Extension
The group of kangaroos in this story is referred to as a “mob”. There are lots of interesting names given to groups of different animals. These words are called collective nouns. Do some research to find out more and make a list of the 10 that you find most interesting.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English

I Spy Nouns
Nouns are places, names (of people and objects), and time (months or days of the week).

How many nouns can you find in the article?

Can you sort them into places, names and time?

Pick 3 nouns and add an adjective (describing word) to the nouns.

HAVE YOUR SAY: What bushfire recovery fundraising could your school do?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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