Things to know – Teachers newly appointed or transferred
to Kowanyama State School
Please take note of the following to make your move to Kowanyama and your first
few weeks go as smoothly as possible.
1. Post yourself a set of bed linen, pillow, towels, clothing and anything else that
you will need to have with you from when you first arrive. Some teachers like
to have a water filter jug or purifier although the town water is potable and
many of us drink it without ill effect. You are only allowed a small baggage
limit to 16 kg for the small charter aircraft, so you need to post anything else
over and above this. Keep your Australia post receipts as you can claim back
this initial postage/packing as part of your appointment entitlement expenses.
Use the postal address:
c/- State School
KOWANYAMA QLD 4871
*** NOTE: When posting parcels, make sure you sign the dangerous goods
declaration on the post-pack or use one of the stickers available at post offices for this
purpose. If this is not done, your parcel will sit at the airport in Cairns for some time
before finally being returned to sender.***
Ensure you post these items as early as possible, as sometimes parcels sit at the airport
in Cairns for some time (especially during the wet season), waiting to be loaded on a
flight with sufficient freight capacity. Express post however, will not be reimbursed -
use regular post. This reimbursement should not be excessive although there is no set
limit - the reimbursement only applies to parcels posted BEFORE YOU ARRIVE IN
KOWANYAMA. You can use Registered post if you wish to track items and have
them signed for on collection. Registered post and postal insurance is not really
necessary and is only advised if a parcel contains something valuable.
We will collect all of the mail from the Post office when we first arrive. A small
charter plane is arranged at the end of the January RAIS conference for newly
appointed teachers in Cairns, to bring you all out together with the Principal. Please
be patient when we arrive, as it is likely that the Principal will be the only staff
member back in town at that time. It will take a little time to access vehicles from
holiday storage, sort out house keys and transport teachers to their various residences
as well as collecting your mail. Be prepared for this, as it will be hot and humid and
impossible to sort everyone out quickly.
Your uplift of personal belongings and furniture etc. will not be flown in until
sometime in the first fe w weeks (possibly as late as some time in March although
this has not happened now for some years) - so be sure to post to yourself anything
within reason that you will need before the uplift arrives, including teaching resources
and essential books, special stationery etc. that you will need for your first day of
school. Also post to yourself some items to help keep yourself occupied in those
initial weeks when you are not working, such as books to read, DVDs, games, etc. A
lot of teachers take out subscriptions to magazines for the time they are living in
Kowanyama. You will get a basic stationery kit for your classroom (which includes
pencils and notepads), so only bring special items if you require them – keep receipts
to claim these items on your personal tax.
Delivery of uplifts occurs by air in February/March. If in doubt, our advice is to bring
it. You will feel much more at home if you have your entire household of belongings
with you. The only exception will be if you are in a duplex, which is the case for
most single people - you will only be able to fit a limited amount of furniture in the
rooms. All basic furniture items are provided and this usually cannot be stored
anywhere else to make room for your things unless there is a lockable sealed gara ge
underneath. EQ will pay for anything you need to leave in storage for the duration of
your time here - but be aware they will not pay for items from storage to be removed
to Kowanyama at a later date if you change your mind - only your initial uplift is
2. Upon arrival in Kowanyama you will be issued with keys for your residence.
You will need to go and purchase power cards from the post office ($20 each)
and insert these into the power box at your residence. Some residences have
gas for cooking and hot water - you can order a gas bottle from the store –
they generally fit these in the afternoon about 4pm but you need to go and pay
for it in the morning. There should be at least a small power credit and some
gas there when you arrive but is not guaranteed. Keep receipts for your power
card and gas bottle purchases if you are a shared housing tenant, as you will be
able to claim this back from the Department. Shared tenants pay approx. $36
per fortnight rent which is taken directly out of your salary, although the actual
figure does vary according to the quality and age of the accommodation.
There are two sets of new duplexes, however the majority are older style
duplex flats – don’t come to Kowanyama expecting 5-star – it is basic but
satisfactory and we certainly don’t have some of the serious housing dramas
that are experienced in some other remote centres.
3. Communication: You will need a Next G mobile phone. No other type of
mobile will work in Kowanyama. Landlines exist in residences a nd can be
connected after you arrive. All residences have Austar satellite dishes. You
can arrange an account with Austar after you arrive, as they will need to send
you a decoder box. Be forewarned however, that if Austar technicians are
required for any reason, it will be difficult to access them until after the wet
season which may not be until the roads open in May. But if all is in order,
you should be able to plug in and use Austar straight away. There is also free
to air TV with 4 channels. You will need to bring your own TV in your uplift.
Mail comes in to town four times per week and yours will be collected by the
school unless there is an item requiring a personal signature. There is no street
delivery of mail. Mail between Brisbane and Kowanyama can take as little as
3 days and as much as 2 weeks – it is an unreliable service.
4. Include a good quantity of non-perishable and dry food in your uplift, as local
grocery prices are expensive and quite limited in variety and range (but all of
the basics are there). You do however, receive a fortnightly locality allowance
in addition to your salary, of $176 per fortnight which is fully taxed. You
receive a RAIS compensation payment of $4400 paid in two instalments of
$2200 in March and $2200 in September. This is provided by the Department
to compensate for the cost of flights you will need to purchase at school
holiday times. The local airline is Skytrans – go to their website to get an idea
of prices as they are not cheap. The RAIS payment is also taxed.
5. Kowanyama has two take-away cafes, post office and commonwealth bank
agency with CBA ATM, one general store. These businesses all have
EFTPOS facilities. There is no other type of business and you need to be
aware that the store does not stock basic chemist and pharmaceutical lines.
Many teachers use the mail order pharmacy, Pharmacy Direct, which is very
reliable and well priced. Registering for mail-order catalogues is also
suggested as many teachers enjoy this in order to access retail therapy.
6. Single teachers moving to Kowanyama for the first time will be expected to
share a duplex with another teacher. This is not negotiable and you are
expected to share for the first 12 months at least. You can apply to move into
another residence at the end of each year when there is a lot of movement in
and out. Single accommodation is usually available for teachers in their
second year or greater but is not guaranteed. If there is a breakdown between
teachers sharing a residence, instant moves to other bedrooms will not be
facilitated, especially if it would cause disruption to the living arrangements of
other staff. You need to come to Kowanyama with an attitude of being
prepared to make a shared accommodation work at all costs and even be
prepared to tolerate and work through a difficult situation that may arise until
a move can be arranged at the school’s convenience. If you are not flexible in
this regard you should rethink your decision to come to Kowanyama. This is
by no means an indication of what is likely to occur, but such situations do
emerge from time to time. Sometimes, the residence allocated to you may be
changed before you arrive to fit emerging housing needs as vacant positions
are filled. Further, you need to be aware that the staff housing is managed by
the school through the Local Accommodation Officer (LAO) and Principal
with the assistance of a Local Accommodation Committee (LAC) as needed.
Your accommodation should not be regarded as permanent as from time to
time it may be necessary to move people into alternative residences in order to
meet emergent housing needs. This is not common, but you need to be told in
advance that it can or may occur if deemed necessary by the LAO and LAC
with the Principal as final arbiter.
7. Basic furnishing and white goods are provided, but you will need to send in
your uplift a TV with relevant aerial outlet connection cord. We also provide
a lounge, dining table and chairs, and in some residences a desk and bookshelf.
A bed and mattress is provided, but note that it is second hand and if you will
be more comfortable in your own bedding - send these items in your uplift
also. There is a very basic kitchen set up in each flat (i.e. cutlery, crockery,
cooking wares), but if you require particular additional items or appliances,
send them in your uplift. There will be an electric jug, toaster, iron and very
small microwave. Most people prefer to have their own items of this nature
and send them in the uplift. The government supplied furniture is not all new
and is certainly not top of the market so our advice is to bring your own
furniture if you would like that little bit of additional quality and comfort.
8. DO NOT contemplate bringing any alcoholic beverage in your luggage or on
your person with you. Kowanyama is subject to a total alcohol ban (AMP),
including home brew. The canteen here does not operate any longer.
Teachers found to be in contravention of the AMP can expect to suffer serious
consequences and fines. The police now have search powers that exceed those
in mainstream communities. It is also illegal to possess home brew equipment
even if it is not being used.
9. Internet access at home has generally been by dial- up until relatively recently,
although some staff still use it and find it satisfactory. Next G mobile
broadband through a USB is also available but at a higher cost. The dial- up
speed is satisfactory most of the time but is slow with downloading large
video, music or image files.
Wireless (Mobile) broadband Internet can be setup via usb. These can be
purchased from Telstra shops on either pre-paid usage or on a plan.
The mobile phone reception does drop out from time to time, although it is
generally a reliable service with good quality reception.
10. The Regional Office in Cairns (phone 07 40465222) will assist you to make
your travel bookings for your flight to Cairns and accommodation in Cairns
for the January induction conference. Do not leave this to the last minute.
11. Fresh fruit and vegetables and milk are brought into the store once per week,
usually on a Tuesday. There is generally a good selection. Meat is stocked but
not great quality and most teachers prefer to bring some meat in a supermarket
style cold esky bag on the plane from Cairns. Some supermarkets will freeze
it for you, such as Woolworths City Central in Abbott Street. During the dry
season many teachers get frozen meats sent out on the truck from a butcher in
12. Roads into Kowanyama are closed over Summer and Autumn due to the wet
season. If you have a vehicle it will be able to be delivered by road train after
the roads open in May or June.
13. Health care is provided by the RFDS through the Kowanyama Primary Health
Care Clinic. An RFDS Doctor is on duty throughout the week but the re is
generally no doctor in town over weekends. Emergent cases are flown out to
Cairns. Health care and medication issued through the clinic is free.
14. There is no hairdresser or beautician.
15. IMPORTANT DATES: The January induction conference in Cairns for new
teachers is from 15th – 17th January 2011. You will be flown to Kowanyama
on a charter flight on Tuesday 18th January 2011. You officially commence
work on the two student free days Thursday January 20th 2011 and Friday
January 21st 2011. The Student free day at Kowanyama State School will
commence at 11:00am on Thursday 20 th January and finish at 5pm. The
student free day on Friday January 21 st will start at 9:00am and finish at
3:00pm. School term dates are accessible from the Education Queensland
website. Students commence school on Monday January 24th 2011. The
school year finishes one week early in this District.
16. You can also access the school website for general information about the
community and school by going to www.kowanyamss.eq.edu.au. There is a
password protected section which contains important documents for new
teachers, including the staff handbook, induction program, ESL cultural
awareness booklet and Responsible Behaviour Plan. There is also a
powerpoint with some pictures of typical duplex teacher residences.
The username is: teacher1.0460 Password is: barramundi (Note:
we have temporarily disabled the password function so there is open
You are expected to download and read these documents, especially the
Responsible Behaviour Plan and ESL cultural awareness documents before
you commence work. It is useful to keep a hard copy for ease of reference.
17. Travel in and out of the community during the wet season is only available via
the commercial air service provided by Skytrans to Cairns. Go to their
website for information and prices. When the roads open, a four-wheel drive
vehicle will suffice although the air service continues all year on some
weekdays. There is gravel for the 400km to Chillagoe and bitumen from there
to Cairns – about a 7-8 hour drive depending on your driving style. You will
need a 4WD vehicle if you intend to pursue leisure activities such as camping
or fishing in the local area. Many teachers manage quite well during their
time here without owning a vehicle. You really need to be organised with
your money regarding flight bookings for school holiday travel throughout the
year, as seats often get booked out early – especially for the flight out on the
last day of the school year, which in 2011 is Friday December 2nd. If you get
in early you will have more chance of securing a cheaper seat, otherwise you
will be paying for the more expensive fares which inevitably many people
have to pay as there are not many seats allocated at the cheapest fare rate.
Please confirm with your Principal what the arrangements are for the student
free days at the beginning of each term as that will impact on whether you
need to book a return flight on the Friday prior to these days or whether the
school has made alternative arrangements that allow people to fly back in on
that day as the Monday flight is an early one. In the past we have completed
additional PD on weekends during the school term in order to offset the need
to attend work on the April and July student free days, however this
arrangement needs to be confirmed by your Principal – this is a special
provision approved by the Department for schools in AMP communities. At
other times, we have been able to commence the student free day program at
11am, which allows for people to fly in from Cairns early that morning, and
then work through till 5pm. The present Skytrans flight schedule provides
flights in and out of Kowanyama only on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and
18. Fishing is a popular pastime during the dry season. During the wet you are
unable to get out of town, so need to be resourceful when it comes to amusing
yourself and participating in social activities that are organised by staff or
yourself. Be prepared to play your part too by hosting social activities at your
home. In the past there has been a table tennis club, food theme nights and
dinners, games nights etc. If you are going out of town to fish or camp etc.
you need to be aware that for some areas and at particular times, you need to
obtain permission from relevant authorities or families. You will receive
induction relating to some of the cultural protocols that can apply, however
you need to take this seriously and ensure you talk to continuing staff and seek
out information from the Lands Office.
The school has approx. 200 students from Kindy to Year 10, with 18 teachers,
Principal, Deputy Principal and HOD - Head of Department (Curriculum), 3
community teachers and approx. 15 non-teaching staff, including a teacher-aide
allocated to each class.
Kowanyama State School is a Bound for Success school and uses the Scope and
Sequence curriculum materials for each year level.
The HOD will provide you with information and access details to all curriculum
related materials after your arrival. Your initial classroom preparation should centre
around the ideas provided in the Settling In unit, provided through the school website.
Additional Suggestions : - this list of suggestions has been provided by a teacher who
commenced at Ko wanyama on transfer in 2009. It provides a very handy list to supplement the advice
above, particularly with regard to actual items you may wish to post up for your first few weeks or
other items to send in your uplift.
bring an umb rella or post one - you will be so glad to have it during the wet!
post extra clothes because you may not be able to take as many as you like in your
suitcase/bag (aircraft baggage limit)
camp ing gear is very useful to have up here
bring your laptop and DVD movies and iPod - your house may not have a TV until your uplift
put preferred canned food, spices, flour, sugar, juice and meal bases in your uplift but check
expiry dates (you don't want to spend $$ and then it go to waste because you can't use it)
Due to transport regulations and air carriage safety laws, you will not be allo wed to send
anything in your uplift that is in a pressurised container, aerosol or fuel/fuel container. Use up
your existing supplies of these or give them away before you leave.
basic tool kit is very handy to have
broadband wireless internet is available through Telstra and is about $90 a month (1GB) but 3
year plans are availab le where the first year is half price. The speed is great!
kitchen equip ment - such as cake tin, roast tray, pizza tray, fry pan (you will do a lot of
cooking or a lot more than you used to). A blender is a good idea - s moothies make a n ice
Put preferred toiletries in your uplift (with the exception of anything in a pressure
pack/aerosol) and/or bring them with you. Toilet paper at the local store has limited variety,
especially in wet season (when you arrive). Put a few lots in your uplift. Pharmacy products
are available online through Pharmacy Direct or ePharmacy.
send a bed frame with mattress that can be reassembled in your uplift rather than an ensemble.
Ensemb le bases do not fit in the plane and therefore will not be delivered until the roads open
into town (late May). Extremely large items cannot be sent by air but most other items are
delivered that way in February/March. You do need to be patient - deliveries are made as
early as can be arranged but the school will not take up a campaign on your behalf unless
many weeks have passed.
It is a good idea to line up some family and friends to send you ‘care packs’ fro m t ime to time,
just for those special things that you find you really need or just for the sake of a nice surprise
in the mail. Care packs are really appreciated when you live and work in an isolated
Remember - Ko wanyama is a very remote and isolated place, especially during the wet season. Your
expectations need to reflect this reality. If you understand this, work around the challenges and
maintain a flexib le attitude, you will have an experience that w ill be en joyable, reward ing and
personally enriching, not to mention your professional growth into a classroom operator of the highest