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IPDC NSW organised their annual outing programme on the 10th of January 2016. The following blog is written by one of the young participants.

The bus ride was pretty good, the kids all screaming and singing from the back seats. Our crazy new way of playing “slime-yak-yak”. The Uncles listening and performing their Bangla songs and waz. The boys kept themselves entertained with conversation and developing sly schemes to claim the backseats for themselves while the aunties chatted quietly under the slow, somewhat comforting rumbling of the Bangla nasheeds in the background.  Wow. The nostalgia that 2 hour bus ride left.

 

The buses arrived at our destination, one by one, line in line. It was like all 3 districts – St. Marys, Minto and Lakemba – had gathered for their annual feasting. What must’ve the other people in Shell Harbour thought? The Islamic festival of colours? The Muslims from Sydney Yearly celebration? It was hilarious getting off the bus and seeing so many people swarming around. Felt nice too, to realise we’re part of a big community.

Killalea State Park, in Shellharbour, was like a fantasy novel come to life. From steep, rocky hills to blue, sandy beaches. The scenery was very beautiful subhanallah. As my naked eye reached out to see the horizon I saw blue cloudless skies meeting a vast, green landscape which was spotted with the coloured hijabs belonging to the visitors. The sparkly, blue beach was not too far in the distance calling to me. And interestingly, right next to the beach was a lagoon and forest-landscape! It was as if an artist had spontaneously decided to put two different sceneries into the same painting. So perfect for exploring!

When we arrived, we all had hot dogs smeared with our favourite sauces, then headed to our first destination – the beach. The plan was just to check out the river and the beach but the scorching sun and the blue sea tempted us in. As we came back out and up the games of the Uncles had already began! All the brave uncles playing attempting to locate a bucket with a stick whilst blindfolded with the guidance (or misguidance) of those who cheered them on. And another, most amusing game to watch, where the uncles had to hop around a circled off area, pushing off others in an attempt to be the last person standing. We had missed the children’s games. But I’m sure they had fun playing the traditional egg and spoon race and tug-of-war. Aunties had games too that we were too restless to play.

This trip by far, was one of the best experiences of my life! I remember on the way to the park the Uncle speaking in the mic said that picnics like this teach our children that you can have fun in an Islamic environment. I think the picnic achieved that.

After a while lunch was served. It was amazing at how efficiently food was organised for such a large number of people, masha Allah! And the food was amazing: The classical biryani with spicy beef, chicken roast and a refreshing salad, and water. (On a side note, there were so many water bottles!)

Soon later, everyone changed into their halal swimmers and headed downhills towards the beach. At first the water was cold but as everyone went deeper in, it felt exciting and we got used to the temperature. The waves were neither violent or too soft as they crashed down on us, and all I can say is that it was one of the best beaching experience in my life!

Before I knew it, the uncles were urging us to get out of the water and change back. Time had gone by too soon! The day at the park ended with tea (of course), and prize giving for the children.

The bus ride back wasn’t as wild and there weren’t people buzzing about everywhere unlike the first, but it was definitely as memorable. The kids hijacked the playlist and we blasted Arabic nasheeds for those of us still awake. Half the people were sleeping and as Imran slept peacefully, we decided to make him into a man. A newly groomed beard, moustache and an attractive monobrow, using nothing but our skills of applying eyeliner!

This trip by far, was one of the best experiences of my life! I remember on the way to the park the Uncle speaking in the mic said that picnics like this teach our children that you can have fun in an Islamic environment. I think the picnic achieved that.

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