Outdoor Education in Australia

outdoor education australia In 2006 outward Bound Australia celebrated its 50th anniversary of operations. It has grown from a post war program focused on the transition from boyhood to manhood to becoming a dynamic contemporary organisation with a diverse clientèle and several satellite bases around the country.

Our mission is to provide challenging experiences that help people to discover, develop and achieve their potential.  Outdoor education is undergoing a renaissance in the education system in Australia and Outward Bound Australia is proud to be at the forefront in the development of  inspirational, safe and educational experiences for our participants. 

Above all we hold true to our core values established in 1956. We promote the development of essential components in successful individuals intent on changing and shaping their future for the benefit of all.

Outward Bound – A Global Phenomenon

abseiling during an outdoor education sessionFounded in 1941 in the UK, Outward Bound has since spread to 30 schools in 6 continents with nearly 2 million people worldwide having completed an Outward Bound course.  Outward Bounds outdoor education courses are based on the principles learnt from training young British seamen to survive in the North Atlantic Ocean during the Second World War.

In 1941, the Blue Funnel Line was regularly losing merchant ships to German U-Boat torpedoes. The loss of life among thousands of seamen who went down with their ships was horrific. But there were also hundreds of preventable deaths among survivors in lifeboats.

Surprisingly it was discovered that the survival rate of young sailors in lifeboats was dramatically worse than that of the older and presumably less fit men. Lawrence Holt, Chairman of the Blue Funnel Line sought help from Kurt Hahn, a noted academic and educationalist and founder of Gordonstoun School. Hahn recognised that the young men had not yet developed an understanding of their own physical, emotional and psychological resources.

The older men were able to draw on their life experiences and inner resources to survive the hardships of the Atlantic in an open lifeboat.

To address this tragic problem Hahn founded the first Outward Bound School to educate the young sailors of the Blue Funnel Line to better handle the hardships they might face.

His program of experiential outdoor education raised the self-confidence of participants who later, when put to the test, were successful in saving their own lives and those of others.NKP_9780

From these unique beginnings, Outward Bound has spread to 30 countries throughout the world. Outward Bound Australia was founded in 1956 and since then over 250,000 Australians aged between 13-75 have completed one of our many courses.

Outward Bound Australia provides the opportunity for all Australians to build self-confidence, self-awareness and resilience, not just physical fitness. It uses the outdoors as the classroom to allow each participant to reach their potential in a safe and managed environment.


Outward Bound International

Outward Bound Australia is an active member of an international network of Outward Bound schools spanning over thirty countries. We maintain regular contact with many of these schools and some of the recent ways we have engaged with them include:

  • Supported the set up of Outward Bound Rwanda through training and mentor support for Rwanda Executive Director Ndekezi Maarifa
  • Supported the training of staff from Outward Bound Singapore and Outward Bound Sabah
  • Outward Bound Australia staff have had the opportunity to work in and visit other schools in Hong Kong, Canada, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore
  • Outward Bound Singapore send groups of young people to Australia each year as part of their overseas youth program
  • Participation in Outward Bound International Conferences including Boston (2005), South Africa (2006), New Zealand (2007) the USA (2008)
  • Former Instructor and Executive Director Tim Medhurst serves on both the Board of Directors for Outward Bound Australia and Outward Bound International

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