g-oz Reverse Travel Program - A Week in Lockhart River

g-oz Reverse Travel Program – A Week in Lockhart River
July 5, 2024 Australian Girls Choir
AGC choristers stand in front of airplane smiling, ready to fly to Lockhart River.

g-oz Reverse Travel Program – A Week in Lockhart River

As part of the Girls from Oz Reverse Travel Program each year, Australian Girls Choir choristers travel to one of four regional program locations during Reconciliation Week to engage in a two-way cultural exchange through a shared passion for the performing arts. This year twelve AGC choristers from across Australia travelled to Lockhart River on Queensland’s Cape York Peninsula, which is approximately 800km north of Cairns and the northernmost town on the east coast of Australia.



Enjoy a look back on the wonderful and inspiring week with our AGC choristers as they reflect on their time in Lockhart River.

Day One – Monday

With a population of 640 people and limited flights into the Lockhart River Airport, our choristers spent a night in Cairns before travelling on a 36-seat plane to Lockhart River where they were treated to breathtaking coastal views of the Great Barrier Reef. After touching down they were introduced to their local guide for the week and Lockhart State School Cultural Liaison Officer – Simon Butcher. Simon welcomed our choristers by taking them on a tour of their new home for the week.

“Simon is such a warm, hilarious and joyful spirit. I feel grateful that we were able to meet and to hear his stories. He talks about his community with such pride and love.” – Jacinta, AGC chorister

AGC girls and their g-oz friends pose for a photo in the Lockhart Rainforest

The girls were instantly impressed by all the wildlife they witnessed roaming around the town, which was already so different from what they were used to coming from major Australian cities. They were also excited to visit the beach, although swimming was off-limits as Lockhart is well and truly in Crocodile territory!

After a big day of travelling and meeting new people, the choristers were exhausted and ready to settle into their accommodation to be well-rested for the big week ahead!

“Lockhart surprised me in that it was more widespread but less dense than I imagined. We drove around a lot but the population was smaller than I ever envisioned.” – Caitlin, AGC Chorister

“I loved seeing what Lockhart itself was like – it’s beautiful! It has a rainforest that extends all the way to the beach and when it’s quiet you can hear birds, bats, frogs and crickets.” – Jacinta, AGC Chorister


Two AGC choristers stand together laughing on a clearing in the rainforest
AGC choristers and friend in the rainforest

Day Two – Tuesday

After a good night’s sleep, the girls were up bright and early for their first day at Lockhart State School. Lockhart State School (LSS) is a prep to Year 12 School with 120 enrolled students, 97% of whom are First Nations people. Our AGC choristers were excited to meet the students and begin learning their ‘Blackfella/Whitefella’ dance together, which they would perform at the concert on Thursday night.

“We worked with the kids for the first time, they are the most beautiful people you will ever meet! We played, we sang, we had so many hugs and piggybacks.” – Eloise, AGC Chorister

The girls had the opportunity to make traditional ‘Jaji’ or grass skirts which are worn in traditional Indigenous dance. This was a lovely time for our choristers to get to know their g-oz sisters better and learn about their culture.

“One of my favourite parts of the day was making a Jaji with the secondary kids.” – Caitlin, AGC Chorister


Girls make a jaji (grass skirt) together
Girls make a jaji (grass skirt) together in Lockhart River

In the afternoon the girls went on a historic tour of Lockhart to visit sites that the Americans built in World War 2, including the remains of the old hospital and underground bunkers.

“Getting to see more of Lockhart (the old hospital, the bombsite and the bunkers) was so interesting and I loved hearing about it from people so eager to share their culture.” – Caitlin, AGC Chorister

After this look back through time, the girls attended choir practice at a local church to rehearse their pieces for the Lockhart Community Concert. At the rehearsal the girls sang hymns with the LSS students and performed ‘Old Lockhart’ for them and their elders.

“At choir practice we learnt some hymns with the Lockhart girls and sang old Lockhart for them and the elders, which was such a privilege and an experience I will never forget.” – Jacinta, AGC Chorister

Simon and musicians sit together waiting to play at the service.
Group of choristers and Lockhart River locals wait for church service and hymns to begin

Day Three – Wednesday

The engagement levels of the Lockhart students and their willingness to give activities a go was on show on Wednesday when the girls attended class in the morning with the Prep – Year 3 students at LSS.

“It’s amazing to see how the girls have grown in confidence and wanting to participate. They were brave in singing by themselves today!” – Ella, AGC Chorister

“A highlight for me was hearing the boys’ beatboxing to ‘Just Sing’ – they were so good!” – Rebekka, AGC Chorister

A few of the AGC choristers then went to Kuunchi Kakana Centre. The centre is run by the Puuya Foundation which aims to empower the local community and develop everyday leaders. While meeting the inspiring members of this Foundation, the girls also donated dresses to be worn at the community’s inaugural NAIDOC ball, which is a youth-focused ball that celebrates the efforts of people aged 12-25 in the Eastern Cape York community.

AGC choristers visit the Puuya Foundation to donate dresses to the NAIDOC ball. They are pictured holding up the dresses.

Later in the day, at the centre, the AGC girls took part in the SONG (Strengthening Our Next Generation) Program with some of their g-oz sisters. The SONG program is designed to help upper primary and secondary school-aged girls prepare for boarding school, as many Lockhart River students travel to attend secondary school. During the session, they went to the beach to play Volleyball, connect with their new friends and shared a BBQ together.

“I loved meeting the women at the Kuunchi Kakana Centre. I could tell they were so passionate about what they were doing and they enjoyed telling us about their future plans.” – Caitlin, AGC Chorister

“Going to the beach and getting to know the kids out of school was so rewarding. I’ve particularly grown close with Keisha, she is the most joyous girl I’ve ever met with a huge heart and a beaming smile!” – Ceilidh, AGC Chorister

“The biggest highlight was hanging out with the kids at the beach outside of school. Playing volleyball together and doing each other’s hair was so fun. They got to teach me things and we all laughed together. They were so carefree and joyful.” – Caitlin, AGC Chorister

AGC choristers pose in a group in front of the beach.
Group pose on the beach during the SONG Program

Day Four – Thursday

Excitement levels were high today as Thursday was the Community Concert Day. First, the girls attended school for a few more workshops and to rehearse with the students for the performance.

“Today my group went with the Kindy and Year 2 students. I had the chance to teach and conduct the children, which was a great opportunity to extend myself.” – Jacinta, AGC Chorister

In the lead-up to the concert, many of the AGC choristers helped the g-oz girls prepare. There was lots of hair braiding and pep talking backstage! The concert was such a success and was a great way to bring the Lockhart River community together to share music and stories. There was a mix of Australian Girls Choir repertoire, Lockhart songs and hymns and the Lockhart State School Drama Students performed their play ‘Castaway’. Watching the AGC choristers and LSS students perform ‘Blackfella/Whitefella’ together was incredible!

“We had our concert today, SO MUCH FUN! The kids are so talented and full of life, it is incredible to see how their confidence and passion for music has grown. I have loved being a part of this incredible community and am sad to be leaving” – Ceilidh, AGC Chorister

“Hearing everyone at the concert was so magical. I teared up hearing them sing, watching their commitment and seeing the confidence of the soloists.” – Caitlin, AGC Chorister

“Getting to see the growth in the students from yesterday to today was so incredible! Seeing their enthusiasm when performing with us, as well as their excitement when showing us their own acts was amazing to see.” – Lilah, AGC Chorister

g-oz and the AGC perform together at the Lockhart Community Concert

Day Five – Friday

After a successful concert, the girls visited Lockhart State School for the final time. They ran a few more workshops with the students and ended their time at the school performing at the school assembly. The girls were sad to say goodbye to their new friends but hopeful they will see each other again soon when g-oz participants have their Travel Program at the end of the year. This year g-oz participants will visit Sydney to perform at the AGC Annual Concert at the Sydney Opera House.

The AGC choristers boarded the plane back to Cairns where they had one final night together. They enjoyed their final night having dinner, looking around the markets and discussing the many learnings they had during their trip to Lockhart River.

“I have loved hanging out with the other AGC choristers and am sad that we only have one more night together.” – Lilah, AGC Chorister

“This whole week has been a joyous experience and I am so beyond grateful I had this opportunity.” – Jacinta, AGC Chorister

Three AGC girls stand piggybacking three Lockhart locals smiling
One AGC chorister poses with a group of Lockhart resident children

After an inspiring week visiting Lockhart River, the choristers parted ways to travel home each taking back with them an enhanced understanding of how Lockhart River locals live, their culture and their experiences. A big thank you to the g-oz team and the Lockhart River locals who made the trip so special.

“Experiencing each other’s cultures, seeing each other’s lives, and getting that two-way perspective is so important” – Kylie g-oz General Manager

AGC choristers stand in front of the sign for Lockhart State School

Girls from Oz relies on the support of generous donors and partners to keep growing and creating opportunities like their Community Programs and the annual Travel Program to a capital city. Donations over $2 are tax-deductible and there are many ways you can donate to g-oz including via AGC re-registration.