SPOTTING a southern right whale and walking up to an emu was all part of the cross-cultural adventure for a Chinese delegation visiting south-west Victoria.
Teachers and pupils from Nanjing Jinling Primary School conducted a two-day whirlwind tour of the region as part of a sister city exchange.
Woodford Primary hosted the group, returning the hospitality extended by the Chinese college last year when representatives of the south-west school visited Nanjing.
The Chinese group started their south west tour on Sunday with a picnic lunch and a spot of sightseeing at the Twelve Apostles.
They were accompanied by pupils from Laurimar Primary, a school in Melbourne’s outer north-eastern suburbs, which also has a sister school relationship with Nanjing Jinling.
Woodford Primary School principal Daniel Watson said the region’s flora and fauna captivated the Chinese visitors. Tower Hill was one of the highlights with kangaroos and emus a source of wonder for both urban Australian and Chinese pupils.
“One of the boys in the Chinese group hopped off the bus and walked straight up to an emu,” Mr Watson said. “Everyone yelled stop, which seems to be an international word because he got the message very quickly that it wasn’t safe.
“Many of the kids from Laurimar Primary were also really interested in the native wildlife. They come from the outer suburbs of Melbourne, out at Doreen, so some of them haven’t seen a real-life emu or kangaroo before.”
Pupils from all three primary schools took part in sightseeing at Logan’s Beach near Warrnambool on Monday and spotted a few southern right whales from the viewing platform.
Following a picnic lunch, Laurimar and Jinling pupils returned by bus to Melbourne.
“It was a great winter day for being a Logan’s Beach,” Mr Watson said. “The sunshine improved visibility and we saw two whales which is pretty good considering you can go out there several times and not see a thing.”
A delegation from Woodford Primary School visited the Nanjing Jinling School last year and hope to return in 2016 as part of the ongoing exchange.
Mr Watson said he would take part in a Warrnambool City Council trip to sister city Changchun within the next few months as the region’s schools seek to deepen relations with the world’s fastest-growing economy.
"It’s a fascinating country,” he said. “Australia and China have a lot to learn from one another and that’s why we have these sister school relationships.”