Jan 25, 2011

I should include some information about where we are...and what that all means … (just incase you are like me who cannot or could not say Arnhem Land correctly and made noises that sound like almond land for example) there is much to say but for starters here are some links
This is where we are

(we live in neal..as kade pointed out – N.E.A.L … north east arhem land..funny)

This is where we work

And this is the town we live by


or the area


(our new favourite is the Nhulunbuy Noticeboard – a facebook page swarming with information and bargains in the local community)

Basically, and this really is basic as I have much to learn.. so briefly! - the Yolngu people, to whom this area is their ancestral homeland,  have been in this part of Australia for tens of thousands of years, their culture is strong, their language and tradition is strong, their art is strong, they are strong. Their first contact with white people was in the 1930’s. There is no stolen generation but there is heartache and alcohol has affected their society. In the 1970’s a rio tinto mine processing bauxite was established. The workers of the mine, and their families, live in the township of Nhulunbuy. It has about 4000 residents with a hospital, supermarket, schools , golf course etc..all the things we white people like..
The impact that white culture has had on aboriginal indigenous culture has much been discussed and documented and I am in no position to make judgement or comment so I won’t. But of course, now that I live here, I cannot ignore the situations I see in front of me and as I learn, to remain impartial to the real people who live here

as promised

tuesday 25 jan

Sailor started school today! Transition (or charmingly known as 'tranny' in true aussie style) .. he was so excited he wore his school uniform all day yesterday after we picked it up and was up out of bed this morning, dressed at 730 .. totally unheard of! I did have some fears he might find it overwhelming and take some convincing to go to the classroom but when the school bell rang i couldn't find him anywhere and was frantically searching (late on the first day-  imagine!) Finally i found him inside, with 4 boys, playing lego and he hardly looked my way as i said goodbye.. 
so much for those tears! 

Iggy also started daycare at yirrkala and i started work! ... big day for everyone. Work mostly consisted of talking with the staff, making coffee and trying to commit to memory the 121 artists in the print space and their many varied and wonderful prints.. easy!
this is my print space
kade at work

Tomorrow is Australia Day ... the arts centre is open despite it being a public holiday and as Andrew point-ely pointed out; hardly the best holiday to take considering ...
Kade does have the day off thou after Will insisted, so we are thinking of taking the boys and friends to a beach for a beach fire and maybe try to master that damper
(that damn damper!) 
new location

we have moved .. to Wallaby Beach, or Birritjimi. A small settlement past Nhulunbuy but before the mine ..it is lovely .. we have a view onto the beach which is gorgeous. There are about 25 houses, maybe, half of which face the beach and the other half face those that face the beach! One street..with a cul-du-sac at either end and about a hundred dogs! It is small and intimate and easy. When you walk to the beach you look right down at rocks and beach and a river far off in the distance ... but if you look left you see the mine.. (and at night it is lit up like the gold coast, makes you feel you are on the verge of a metropolition area ... you are not) such a juxtaposition)

Still it is beautiful (to the right) and across the road behind our house lives Araleun who works at the arts centre with her two girls Tanika and Mikaela, aged 13 and 8 .. Sailor and Mikaela are now inseparable.. and have been playing 24/7 since we arrived
We spent the whole weekend at the beach fishing, swimming and trying to cook damper in the local way (no luck) 
Iggy is happiest at the beach in the water, or sand, or chasing a dog around...but  last night we had 10 kids running around the front yard and iggy was in heaven

someone is missing a baby thou...

The wind is not so wild here, and the place has air conditioning so we can close the doors and it is silent. The first night here i was so pleased..all that howling noisy wind shall not be missed! We have all our boxes here too so occasionally we go digging for something we think we need and find along the way something we don't need but makes us happy to have, or happy to have survived the journey.

It's been awhile since i have managed to write and of course, much has happened ..it is common around here..i did break down on my way back from wallaby beach, mid move, with the boys..but we were soon rescued by Kade and now i have towed a car ..and a big trooper at that. The cars drop like flies around here and due to their rapid decrease we have been given a hire car, a dual cab ute. In melbourne this car would feel large and probably a bit cumbersome but after driving a trooper for three weeks it feels like it might blow away at the smallest gust..

Jan 17, 2011


a drive to cape arnhem ... much i could say about this ... we took two cars loaded up with the ladies and children and andrew, di, young will and us ... drove along the bumpiest red road which was filled with puddles and down the hill into 'oyster bay' ... the ladies immediately disappeared to the rocks where they stood in waist deep water and chipped at the thousands of rock oysters exposed at low tide, they were gone for hours and returned only once the tide came in with buckets of oysters...i tried my hand at getting them off the rock but found it easier just to bang the lids off and eat them there and then , delicious raw and later delicious cooked
the kids ran into crystal clear warm water where they played for hours and later made sand houses in the rocks, iggy ran in and out of the ocean throwing himself him while we tried in vain to remind him he doesn't actually know how to swim
while that was all happening we went  scenic driving up the beach to the top of the cape and stood watching as a storm blew in and over (while kade and will snorkelled but didn't catch anything) andrew saw a mantra ray swim in to the bay and check the boys out
and then back around a fire we had damper cooked in leaves and oysters, sausages and billy tea
good, i like that


a day of administration and a tired day after yesterdays big journey. We are trying to get liquor permits as you can't buy alcohol here without one (arnhem land is dry - an initiative to help the community) And since we live and work in yirrkala (which is an aboriginal community and in a 'prescribed area' (whatever that means) the process to get such a thing is LONG and drawn out with forms and police checks and committee meetings, so the next chance at getting 'approved' is the 2nd feb ...THE SECOND OF FEBRUARY!!!  my mother did suggest i might not feel much like drinking in this heat .. WRONG ..ha ..somedays i really need a nice glass of wine at the end of the day.. especially when i have to deal with all the silly paperwork required to move somewhere new.. like we can't get a NT drivers licences without a form and a letter, and we can't join the pool without a form and a witness AND not to mention that when we finally can get a liquor permit we are limited to a 6 pack of light beer each day ..ha!
so, it is a place of extremes at the moment, where from yesterday to today i can feel so excited and awed to be living in such a place to loathing the place and wishing i were back in melbourne. 
love and hate relationship...
anyways ..enough complaining .. on a bright note, the power hasn't gone out for a couple days..
now off for a glass of, water.

Jan 13, 2011

Today we went to duliwoi bay with a crew from the arts centre, rachael and dave with their divine daughter ….. We had young bulmirri and another young kid learning the filming ropes so we went to the jungle and filmed watjumi and her friend cutting down stringy bark (which is what the artists paint on) A task indeed in the heat of the day
Kade and sailor got to stand on the roof of the car and so they were happy.
check out that tree ..

After that we went to the bay, made a fire and cooked damper in the hot sand (eaten with maple syrup, delicious) We watched, and joined in, as the kids splashed in the water and the crocodiles swam by .. it’s enough to make me have anxiety attacks ..  what can you do though ... a hot 20 month old doesn’t comprehend the danger and certainly doesn’t like being taken out of the beautiful clear refreshing water by his anxious mother over and over ...

The indigeous kids swim in the water with total abandonment, jumping off rocks and swimming out in the depths so if they can  .. we can .. right?
(It is to be noted that none of the adults swim, or even splash around to cool off ..)
In anycase we didn’t get eaten and the family was covered in sand and happiness as we drove the track home
Nothing beats a day at the beach

I've shed a few tears the last couple of days ... i think its the wind, it hasn't stopped blowing for three days and three nights
you can just imagine what it's doing to my hair - do

thunder and lightning

..and everyday a different mob turn up .. today there were five and they came with a mud crab to cook

there was the most terrific terrifying storm this afternoon which sent the power out for 3 hours. Iggy and I saw the lightening hit the ground just outside the house, I got the biggest fright so then spent the rest of the storm pacing the corridor feeling freaked out .. as soon as it passes though the world is calm and it is as if nothing happened .. strange place this

since we had no power to cook dinner we put some sausages on the barbie and I made a salad of raw carrot beetroot and apple which turned out to be one of the BEST salads I’ve made in forever …goes to show how necessity is the mother of invention, or something

the last few days have been really difficult with iggy sick and miserable, this morning we ended up taking him to emergency - which is always the best way to get a child better again - however it didn’t work. Tonight he has finally come right (I can tell coz he’s got the vacuum cleaner out)
After 5 days it is such a relief, I was beginning to get quite down bout it
Thursday...day three?

We drove into Nhulunbuy in a tropical thunder storm … heavy heavy rain just pouring out of the sky, maybe not the best timing as we seemed to follow it into town rather than see it pass.. and then on arrival the power went out in all the shops so any intentions to go “shopping” were thwarted ( I had planned a big spend up in the fabric shop). Poor sailor ran straight into a pole to escape the rain and got a lump on his head the size of an egg and then iggy vomited on the driveway when we got home….  Not the most successful of trips
(but there is an OP SHOP! and I discovered a fabric shop too …. So things are better than expected)

The power is on again now and iggy seems better though the poor thing has had a few days of out of sorts, a big temperature all day and night yesterday and now gastro. I am sure it will pass but it is not reassuring to have a sick baby on your first few days in the tropics, my over-active imagination has him struck down by some strange tropical lurgy

On a good note…kade went spear fishing and caught this huge trevally

(he may have had some help)

And sailor rode his bike all the way to the arts centre and back… yelling I can pedal I can pedal
Sailor made his first linocut ...of dinosaurs ...of course
This is it printed .. oh i love having a printing press
and this is the freakiest spider and web down by the washing line ..spooked me a little/lot  
got to gets used to a whole new bunch of creepy crawlers

This morning I saw a large cockroach running up the wall followed by a gecko … neither have been seen since

I might be having a small possible honey moon period moment..its only been two days after all ….but after months of feeling some intense apprehension it feels good to feel good being here …
After all...
no one has been eaten by a crocodile yet
Day two

That was yesterday and right now it is raining and it is hot but not too hot. It is sticky but not too sticky. I like this heat, there are ceiling fans in every room and the sea whips up a breeze that even got me feeling cold last night   …  there are mosquitos that swarm iggy and me when we step outside and ignore sailor and kade … we went for a walk along the beach and kade bravely caught a crab and splashed around … I am remaining sensibly onshore for now ….

Tomorrow morning he is going spear fishing with young will … could be the last we see of him  ha

Binga Binga takes off and runs around the streets as she likes, roaming. When she gets hungry she returns to get food (outta iggy’s wee hand as he tries to eat it himself mostly). Today she got three of his biscuits much to his distress… but now he thinks that what you do. Sailor frets about her all the time !  She hasn’t come home tonight …

Kade went out today to cut down trees for carving. He returned with blood scratches on his legs and arms, sweat dripping from every pore, soaked thru shirt…. and a smile as wide as a crocodiles. Possibly he has the best job in the world …second to mine of course.

I forgot to mention my hair has gone frizzy

I am feeling very inspired

These two things are not related.

the neighbourhood