Apr 28, 2012

Yalangbara is a very important place. It means the beginning of life because that's where the Rirratjingu generations started ... that's where the Djang'kawu women were and that's where the families were born.
They are the sunrise; they are the life.
Bakamumu Marika, 2004.

We got a day off work for anzac day on wednesday so my yapa Ruby and her mum Banduk took Iggy, Sailor and me to Yalangbara.  There are many stories and much art about this sacred place and for Ruby and her mum, it is their homeland. The road is pretty rough - a lot of driving on soft sand and in the back of a troopy a bit like being in a earthquake!  The troopy was filled up of course and we had lots of djamakuli (kids) come along too.  ( The general consensus is that if there are any spare seats in the 12 seater troopy for a hunting trip this means you simply aren't trying hard enough ) The wind was up at Yalangbara and the waves were huge and it was high tide - this meant no oysters which are only exposed at low tide - but the kids went swimming in the surf which despite its roughness was still crystal clear. On the beach at Yalangbara you can dig and fresh water comes up. The tide was too high for us to try this sadly...

In pursuit for some fish and some hunting we drove a bit further around to the bay which was sheltered. The kids played in the abandoned houses since crocodiles lurk in these waters and swimming is a no-no. We did a huge walk up the beach to a few mangroves and there collected long bottoms or bunybu  a twisted shellfish that you cook and eat as well as a  handful of snails. The snails are delicious, the long bottoms...not so much.

As we walked one of the djamakuli waded ankle deep about 10 metres off shore and speared mud crabs. We cooked those in the fire, delicious. One of the coolest things about here is the hunting... watching 10 year old kids armed with a spear catch crab and then disappearing into the mangrove swamps with older men bringing back stingray and fish like barramundi as the ladies collect oysters and shellfish and dig in the mud for mussels. Its cool, this age old hunting still happening and seeing young children learning the skills, ignoring the fear of sharks and crocs and being totally skilful and killer hunters ... i am more than impressed
this little lady has a bit to go to be a hunter gatherer but she eats crab like no one business ...

The rain started as we left for the drive home and as we drove it got heavier and heavier until full sections of the road were flooded.  There is a distance of flood plains on the road and these were soon flat with water, some for 100 metres. We had no choice but to drive straight in despite not knowing what the depth could be.  But, it was Ok and we didn't get bogged and we didn't get swept away either and we had rain for the whole evening, which I love.

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