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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

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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

All staff and adult visitors must be fully vaccinated and provide proof of vaccination. 


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, raincoat and mask in a backpack. Sports uniform recommended. There are no shops.
View Preparing for an excursion
Supporting resources

Available on confirmation of booking.

Fact sheets

Bin access All student waste to be taken home by students.
Medical or special needs

Notify Field of Mars staff prior to excursion. 

Students, staff and visitors must not attend if unwell, even with mild symptoms. 

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 human interactions

12.30 - 1.00

Activity 3/Site 3 - Investigating fire

1.00 - 1.30

Lunch at Buffalo Creek Reserve (toilets)

1.30 - 2.00



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 on how forest environments can be sustainably managed within Lane Cove National Park. 

Inquiry questions

  • How do interactions within the biophysical environment lead to biodiversity in the forest at Magdala Park?
  • How do human interactions affect biodiversity in the forest?
  • How has fire affected the forest at 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, 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. Global and local factors for the establishment of the vegetation community will be examined. Conclusions will be drawn that recognise the interactions between the different components of the biophysical environment.

Optional activites may include an investigation into plant adaptive features and a game that explores ecosystem resilience and vunerability. 

Site 2 - The Great North Walk

As students walk from site 1 to site 3 they will identify human interactions and examine how these interactions impact biodiversity. A focus on some of the species found within the park including their ecological role and population change provide working examples of human induced impact. Students will record field notes and photographs with the spatial technology app EpiCollect5. Students may also wish to particupate in citizen science and record species in the area using the iNaturalist app.

Site 3 - Great North Walk Sugarloaf Hill

Students will explore the effects of fire in the dry sclerophyll forests of Sugarloaf Hill. Spatial datasets will be used to examine fire history and students will assess appropriate actions for future fire management. 

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