Jun 28, 2011

Not one but two significant people in the community have died in the last three days ... the first was Araluen's father (she works at the art centre) He had a heart attack and passed saturday night - i heard the horns beeping around midnight. Iggy's daycare was closed on monday out of respect as was all the offices in Yirrkala. Will, of course has gone away this week, and so Kade had to decide whether to close the art centre as well. He did since the staff said this would be best, we all stayed at work anyways.

This morning when we thought things back to normal we heard tooting again and the news spread that another person has passed. This lady was sick and had been sick for awhile now but still sad since she was an important person and artist. As in accordance to Yolngu custom all her artwork was removed from the gallery and no-one is allowed to say her name aloud. This custom is for every deceased person for as long as it takes for their spirit to go to the proper resting place... which takes about three years or more... saying their name aloud confuses their spirits and they linger for longer.

We went to the house to pay our respects. One of the most intense experiences of my life. We walked up as the Wandawuy mob were walking up with the clap sticks going slowly. Wanapa ushered us into the dark house where we stood over the body. The women started howling, weeping and wailing, throwing themselves on the floor, and i instantly started crying too as the grief in the room was so heavy. so real, so awful. I never even met this woman.

The art centre closed again and still everyone stayed at work. But I left and took the boys to town for a swim and retail therapy of any kind. .. anything really to try and recover from the feeling in that room...

lets hope for a better day tomorrow and hope that the saying that these things come in threes does not ring true ...  one thing is for sure there will be a lot of missing people as the funerals start - Yolngu funerals last minimum two weeks and can go for easily four...

Jun 26, 2011

shady beach 

last day of school for sailor on friday. his class hosted assembly so igs and i went to see... 
this bit was exciting
 this bit a little confusing
 i don't really know what this is about ...
 this is sailor on stage with his grubby dirty tee shirt and billy goat gruff mask .. makes a mumma proud

now we have a huge mid year break until the 26th july - four weeks to keep him entertained ... hmmm ... but he has gone camping this weekend with his dad so thats a good start plus we have my parents arriving on wednesday night for a week ... really much looking forward to showing them around up here 
the dry season brings with it fires - not bush fires like i am used to in victoria where you must run for your life at the first sniff of smoke but slow burning fires which smoulder through the long grass under the trees and light up the bush at night 

 this is how the land looks after

i caught my very first fish which was silly small but we cooked and ate it anyways, and it was delicious

 this is what the competition was like  hah!

 fishing with a hand line off the beach

 eating damper - iggy style

 like a little prince

Jun 17, 2011

C A M P I N G  T R I P

on the road to Wandawuy - a three hour drive along a dirt road which for the most part was pretty good - a couple of wash outs from the wet but generally OK. The bush was beautiful and changed as we drove from thick eucalyptus to ferns and then large white gum trees... saw a couple of kangaroos too

Wandawuy is Watjumi's homeland (each Yolngu has a homeland relating to their clan - her's being Djapu) The homeland is ON AN AIRSTRIP .. literally. You drive out of the bush onto an airstrip and the houses line the runway. It is bizarre, and beautiful.  This is not a big homeland - only about 10 houses and a school.

looking one way .. looking another ...
the airstrip is perfect though for playing soccer, volleyball, riding bikes and throwing sticks in iggy's case .. which we did until the sun set

so much open space

we camped on watjumi's sister's lawn and made a fire, cooked freshly caught fish and we made lamb in the camp fire oven and risotto in the flames
 fire scene

meet charles

 me and my mukul (mother in law) and kade's ngandi (mother)
note the bright clothes !!

the night was cold in our little tent - and we froze.  But in the morning the sun shone and we had camp tea, bacon and beans. The community has no power, amazing. the houses are great - built open and airy to allow for the hot climate and the rainy season. Each house has their own personal generator run off diesel so there are light and TV.The kids run around happy and carefree and their lives seem simple. It is hard to imagine living in australia with no power and no shop - the nearest three hours away - if the road is accessible - but this is their reality and they seem happy enough for it ...

morning faces

morning game of airstrip volleyball

then we drove with a troopy fill of children and ladies in the back and Kade with Yolpi in the front ... to Biranybirany (which is my clan - Gumatj 's - homeland).  Of course we had to stop to cut bark on the way and Larritj on the way back

good tree
nice bark

bark colours


at the beach at Biranybirany at low tide where we walked through the mangoves to collect oysters and spear mud crabs to eat over the fire (with damper of course)

the river where it meets the mangroves and the ocean
there were crocodile tracks on the beach

we drove up river a bit and sat on the river's edge and tried fishing (i caught nothing except a snag and lost my line)

sailor caught a lizard

After we ate some fish that watjumi caught we drove back to Wandawuy, stopping quickly at the Branybrani homeland. A group had just shot a kangaroo so we got to take a leg back to Wandawuy and try some freshly cooked on the fire which was so good ... sailor not too sure

stripping the bark

and then we left - drove the three hours home in the dark with two boys asleep on my lap, a troopy filled with extra people and babies, towing a boat with a log attached ...  this is normal -  i am the only one who thinks that life up here is crazy.