• The Yirrkala students from Nhulunbuy, Arnhem Land, at Bondi Beach. (NITV)Source: NITV
These students from Far East Arnhem Land are no strangers to salt water. But back home, swimming is something usually done in a community pool. For one very good reason.
By
Hannah Hollis

Source:
The Point
7 Apr 2016 - 7:56 PM  UPDATED 7 Apr 2016 - 8:00 PM

"Back home there's lot of crocodiles everywhere, we see them hunting and fishing," said assistant teacher Vanessa Marika.

"We can't swim too much because of the saltwater crocodiles that live there but here you can swim anywhere you want."

Ten students from Yirrkala school near Nhulunbuy in Far East Arnhem Land have been rewarded for their hard work with a 4,000 kilometre journey: a trip to Sydney.

'I've never been to water like this before. At home it's hot water.'

Standing on the sand of Sydney's most iconic beach, Bondi, the consensus seemed to be that this was the highlight so far.

"It's so exciting," 11-year-old Mawnymula Brian said. "I've never been to water like this before. At home it's hot water."

Ms Marika, a teacher and parent travelling with the group, said the excitement started before they left home. 

"Some of them have never been to Sydney before, or on a big plane."

Their adventure is part of an education exchange run by the Hooker Family Foundation called Kids to Coast

Ana Hooker, the initiative's founder, says the incentive-based program motivates primary students to strive and achieve at school. 

"The students go through a term and they get selected based on their behaviour in school, their school attendance and their grades," Ms Hooker said. 

The program started in 2011 with a group of students from Mutujulu in Uluru, producing great results. 

"Mutujulu was amazing for us and now we're in Yirrkala," Ms Hooker said. 

"We've signed up for a three-year program with the Yirrkala school and we're hoping to achieve the same results, if not better."