On the first day of the field school, we visited a rockshelter close to Barunga. We split into smaller groups so the students could each learn a new skill. One group practiced the baseline-offset method for producing a site plan, another group assessed the preservation of the rock art (including the factors that might help or hinder preservation), while the third group learned motif recording with Irene, a visiting PhD student from Spain.
During the day, Isaac and Billy, our community guides (Custodians (Junggayi) for this Country), taught students about how the rock art was made and how ochre was cached around the site. While we were recording, Isaac and Billy shared stories about particular motifs and what they meant to them within the Jawoyn belief system.
At dinner time we were joined by community elders Nell (Senior Junggayi), Joyce, Jocelyn and Melissa who shared stories and gave the students a skin name, to situate them in the Dalabon kinship system, which is used in this Country. We watched an ABC documentary called ‘Bamyili: My Country‘, which is about the original Barunga settlement. An artefact of its time, the narrator speaks in an Australian BBC accent to describe how the local Aboriginal people have been ‘civilised’ by European settlers. It is essentially a description of bygone attempts at assimilation; however, the community elders are more interested in identifying family in the short documentary and remembering people who have now passed away.