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Field of Mars Environmental Education Centre

Field of Mars Environmental Education Centre

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Biophysical interactions - forests program

Teacher checklist


Start - Magdala Park, Magdala Rd, East Ryde

Google mapsApple maps

Finish - Buffalo Creek Reserve, 117 Pittwater Rd, Hunters Hill

Google maps - Apple maps

Wallumedegal Country

Bus access Supply bus driver with -

Magdala Park bus information

Buffalo Creek Reserve bus information.

No bus entry into Buffalo Creek Reserve carpark.

DoE $24 per student - GST free

Non-gov school cost $34 per student - GST free minimum charge $600

Risk assessment  Risk management plan

COVID-19 safety plan

View the YouTube track overview video (note the walk is filmed in reverse).

Buffalo Creek Reserve to Magdala Park

Welfare Participants will be bushwalking all day in rugged terrain. This excursion may not be suitable for people who have recently been unwell. Toilets are only available at the beginning and end of the day.
Bring Writing materials, mobile device for audiovisual recording, medications, low-waste food, two water bottles, sunblock, hat and raincoat in a backpack. Sports uniform recommended. There are no shops.
View Preparing for an excursion
Supporting resources Available on confirmation of booking.
Bin access All student waste to be taken home by students.
Medical or special needs

Notify Field of Mars staff prior to excursion. 

Sick students or adults to stay at home.

Extreme or wet weather Days predicted to be above 35ºC, high winds, extreme bush fire danger and dust storms may result in the excursion being modified, postponed or cancelled. 
Cancellations Cancellations with less than three school weeks' notice will incur a $500 administration fee. This does not apply to cancellations due to weather, fire danger or COVID-19 restrictions.

Suggested timetable



9.30 - 10.00

Arrive and introduction at Magdala Park (toilets)

10.00 - 11.30 Activity 1/Site 1 - Investigating biophysical interactions
11.30 - 11.50

Recess at Magdala Park (toilets)

11.50 - 12.30

Activity 2/Site 2 - Investigating ecosystem diversity

12.30 - 1.00

Activity 3/Site 3 - Investigating species diversity

1.00 - 1.30 Lunch at Buffalo Creek Reserve (toilets)
1.30 - 2.00 Activity 4/Site 4 - Investigating human interactions
2.15 Conclusion and depart from Buffalo Creek Reserve

Learning activities

Students will work in pairs or groups to undertake geographic inquiry in the field. Geographic questions that focus on environmental functioning and management will be asked and data will be collected using different fieldwork techniques. Conclusions are made to help inform the sustainable management of forest environments within Lane Cove National Park. 

Inquiry questions

  • How do the components of the biophysical environment, and people, interact in the forest in the Magdala Park bushland?

  • How diverse are the ecosystems in the wildlife corridor along the Lane Cove River from the Magdala Park bushland to Sugarloaf Point and how are they managed?

  • How diverse are the bird species at Sugarloaf Hill?

  • How does the biophysical environment and the activities of people impact the Powerful Owl, a threatened species found within the National Park in the Magdala Park bushland and Sugarloaf Hill?


Introduction - Magdala Park

Students will assemble in Magdala Park and be introduced to the day’s fieldwork investigations. Sources such as plans of management, past and present photographs, maps and spatial data will be examined to stimulate student inquiry. Students will be guided through the planning process for fieldwork investigations including ethical considerations, equipment and methodologies and preparing for outdoor activities. 

Site 1 - Magdala Park

Students will investigate the forests on the ridge at Magdala Park. These forests have been classified as Sydney Coastal Dry Sclerophyll Forests on sandstone ridges and gullies.

Students will use scientific equipment and observation to identify abiotic and biotic features of the forest. An investigation into plant adaptive features and human impacts will be conducted. Global and local factors for the establishment of the vegetation community will be assessed. Conclusions will be drawn by creating flow charts that recognise the interactions between the different components of the biophysical environment and people’s impacts.

Site 2 - The Great North Walk

As students walk from site 1 to site 3 they will identify different ecosystems, plant communities and habitats. Students will collect data on ecosystem diversity and make observations on the ways people influence the environment. Digital and non-digital methods will be used. 

Site 3 - Great North Walk Sugarloaf Hill

Students will assess biodiversity on The Sugarloaf by conducting a systematic bird survey. Mathematical techniques to quantify species diversity will be employed. An investigation on ways the biophysical environment and the activities of people impact threatened species will be undertaken. Conclusions on biodiversity and appropriate management strategies will be considered. 

Site 4 - Buffalo Creek Reserve

Students will work in teams to collate and analyse fieldwork data. Students present their findings and offer solutions for managing biodiversity sustainably in urban bushland areas.   

Students will reflect on the inquiry and options for follow up investigations are provided. 

Syllabus outcomes and content

Geography Stage 6 Syllabus (2009) 


A student:

  • describes the interactions between the four components (atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, biosphere) which define the biophysical environment (P2)

  • explains how a specific environment functions in terms of biophysical factors (P3)

  • identifies the vocational relevance of a geographical perspective (P6)

  • selects, organises and analyses relevant geographical information from (a variety of sources) the direct observations in the fieldwork (P8)

  • uses maps, graphs and statistics, photographs and fieldwork to conduct geographical enquiries (P9)

Geography Stage 6 Syllabus © NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales, 2009