Bayulu Remote Community School

​STREAM 1-2015

The Project

Bayulu Remote Community School was Western Australia’s first station school.  The school began in a cave on the hillside in 1957.  Bayulu Remote Community School is located in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, about 2,570 kilometres north east of Perth. Fitzroy Crossing, the closest town to the school, is 16 kilometres away. 

In 1962, the school re-located to its present site and students attend from six local communities:  Bayulu; Joy Springs (Eight Mile); Gillaroong; Karnparrmi (Three Mile); Ngalingkadji; and Mimbi.  All six communities have strong cultural ties and are eager to share their culture with staff and students through the school.

Under the leadership of Principal, Mr Leon Wilson, the Bayulu Remote Community School Artist-in-Residence (AiR) project took place over an intensive four week period during June and July, 2015.  Eight full-time teachers, four Aboriginal and Islander Education Officers (AIEOs) and four Education Assistants worked with 128 students and a team of eight specialist artists from Theatre Kimberley to create Upsidedown Stories – A Circus Comedy Show.

An age and developmentally appropriate circus skills program with links across the curriculum was developed by Theatre Kimberley in partnership with the school.  The program incorporated both Kriol and Standard Australian English.  Kriol is the first language for many of the school's students.

School staff and students participated in a range of workshops led by Theatre Kimberley.  The workshops included Djembe drumming, using circus equipment, mime, unicycle, dance, movement, trapeze, hoops, tissu (silks), tumbling and mini-trampoline.  At the same time, stories about local culture and history were used to develop the narrative for the final performance.

Significant local Gooniyandi Elders, Mr Jimmy Shandley, and Ms Joy Nuggett, were integral to the success of this project. Together they ensured accurate and appropriate use of traditional knowledge and stories.  Mr Shandley initially met the school’s AiR project management team at the Cave School where they discussed the school's history and the stories associated with it. The partnership between Mr Shandley and the team helped lay the foundations for mutually respectful meetings throughout the project.

“The collaboration with the creative team and school staff taught me a lot about [working] in a remote community school and the challenges of the region. I learnt once more to consider the nature of children’s connectedness to the land and demonstrated respect for their community protocols. I did have the chance to explore the cultural, heritage, backgrounds and traditions of each child within the context of their community. I learnt to expand my knowledge of organising learning environments in ways that promoted small group interactions and play circus activities creating new experience.”  Gwen Knox, Artistic Director, Theatre Kimberley

Students actively contributed to class and group discussions, varying language according to context.  They learnt to use circus equipment and became aware of their place in space, performed dances and used expressive verbal and non-verbal skills to communicate ideas and community stories.

“Circus is the physical voice of drama play.”  Gwen Knox, Artistic Director, Theatre Kimberley

Media Arts and technologies were incorporated into teaching and learning programs linked to the project.  Students were supported to communicate time and space through the manipulation of images, sounds and texts.  Student’s visual arts skills and techniques were further developed as they produced 3D props for the final performance.

Representatives from the school scheduled visits to the communities so that parents and caregivers were kept informed about the project and the date of the final performance.  Community members were invited to visit the school to watch workshops and rehearsals.  

“Community people showed an interest and talked about the project’s development and the pride they gained from seeing their child perform on stage.” School, Acquittal

More than 250 people attended the world premiere of Upsidedown Stories at the school and feedback from the school and community was overwhelmingly positive.

“… All the students performed above and beyond what we had imagined... The wider community [was] impressed with the show’s contribution to the cultural landscape of the school and the opportunities the children had had.”  Catherine Daniel, lead artist, Theatre Kimberley

“Our students do not have the opportunity to participate in learning such skills as they live in a remote location, and providing this experience for them was invaluable and may lead to some children wanting to take up circus skills in the future.” School, Acquittal

Visit the AiR project archive to read more about projects completed in 2015. View the teaching and learning resource and AiR advocacy video here. This video is also available through the Department of Education's YouTube channel.

Bayulu Remote Community School
Principal: Mr Leon Wilson
Tel: (08) 9191 5093
School profile available at

AiR Project Coordinator: Ms Stephanie Crowe

Theatre Kimberley
PO Box 2890
Broome, WA 6725
Artistic Director at the time of AiR project delivery: Gwen Knox
Tel: (08) 9193 5658

Specialist artists
Catherine Daniel (Vertical Circus – writer/director/general circus skills)
Chris Hill (Set design and props)
Franque Batty (General circus skills and slapstick)
Ruth Battle (Silk aerial specialist/general circus skills)
John Nyagah (General circus skills/technician) care of
Andrea Ousley (Aerial specialist/course coordinator at National Institute of Circus Arts)
Miriam Cawley (Tissu and hoop diving specialist) care of
Jillibalu Riley (Straps and acrobatics specialist)



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