Fort Lytton has to be one of Brisbane's best-kept secrets. As relative newcomers to Brisbane, my family had discovered Fort Lytton more as tourists than residents. It is now a firm favourite of ours and we recently revisited to see the cannons fired.
During school holidays the national park runs an activity called "Raiders of the Lost Fort". It has been a runaway success and the park plans to repeat it in the next holidays for the many children who have already signed up for its waiting list.
The children are immediately swept into a fictitious scenario that they have no reason to disbelieve. "The Professor" is holding a briefing session where he is requesting assistance from the children to provide enough evidence that the site is 'significant' enough to prevent Calgon Industries from bulldozing the site rendering it lost to Brisbane forever more. His passionate plea immediately engages the children, many of whom are too young to fully understand the idea of 'sites of significance' but who just really want to help the Professor.
The children are split into two groups. One group starts digging for evidence in a giant sandpit segmented into quadrants. "The Doctor" is very believable when she urges the children to be careful in case they discover unexploded bombs. Buried in the sand are 'artifacts' that the children recover, with varying degrees of care and expertise. They are provided with trowels, dusting brushes and clipboards to record their finds. I was genuinely impressed with the level of detail our six year olds put into sketching and labeling their finds.
A swift morning tea picnic (byo) is followed by the groups swapping and this time we joined the Professor in the ruins. He skillfully draws the children out and they create theories about the significance of the site. As I said, it's Brisbane's best kept secret that it's a fort and even my son who has twice been on the tour was guessing away about what the site might have been: a small town, a castle or "a place where army men prepared for battle" were the general tone of the theories.
A debrief followed our examination of the ruins where it was unanimously concluded that the Professor must go away to the government immediately to stop the diggers. Phew, it was close, but I think we saved the fort for future.