Entry 1: Out of Our Comfort Zones
I’m hoping that spending time with the community at Barunga will provide me with a deeper insight into other community archaeology programs, and be able to make improvements to the programs in my current role.
The Barunga field school in the Northern Territory will be a meaningful journey for me. I will be driving alone from Coolangatta to Barunga intentionally so that I can reflect on my past and future. Driving north through remote Australia will also allow me to see the changes in the landscape and think of how the land would have been before colonisation.
I currently work in the heritage nanagement field and I’m hoping that spending time with the community at Barunga will provide me with a deeper insight into other community archaeology programs, and be able to make improvements to the programs in my current role. I also look forward to meeting and learning from an Indigenous community in the Northern Territory. I have worked in Western Australia and would like the opportunity to broaden my knowledge about Indigenous cultures in other regions of Australia.
I hope I can make a meaningful contribution to the community in any way by sharing experiences, knowledge and an extra set of hands.
A selfish reason for coming on the field school is to be able to see the amazing NT.
Entry 2: Experiences and Challenges
…you can easily miss important messages during conversation with people, particularly Elders, if you are not listening with purpose.
So far I have spent four amazing days with the community at Barunga (previously known as Bamyli), and I have been learning from everyone, from the young children to the Elders. One key thing I’ve learned from time spent with Indigenous Elders in the past is that they share important messages in subtle ways and that you can easily miss important messages during conversation with people, particularly Elders, if you are not listening with purpose. During the time I spend with the community at Barunga I have been trying to listen with purpose.
During the past few days I have been given my skin name which is Bulain (Yirritja moeity), and I have been learning how this effects my relationships with other people that I interact with in the community, and with the Flinders crew.
People in Barunga are deeply connected to Country. Barunga has been the home for many community members for generations, is still their home, and for the majority of people will remain home for the rest of their lives. There is a noticeable difference in this physical connection to Country when I reflect on my time spent with Pilbara communities, who are much more disjointed and tend to live in larger towns hundreds, sometimes thousands of kilometres from their traditional lands.
Entry 3: Take Away Thoughts
Everyone in the community has been eager to help and provide their memories.
The stars, the culture and the people have all been amazing. Bamyli (Barunga) is truly different to any other experience in my life. I have lived in remote towns for many years that have been built on a strong Indigenous culture, but Bamyli is something different. From my perspective I can see that the culture is strong in the way people live and their daily routines. I know this may seem insignificant, but even when I look around the community at night, every yard I can see has a camp fire burning away in it, with people sitting around it. I wonder what they are saying, what stories they are telling to each other – a lot more than people siting around a lounge room on hand-held digital devices I’m sure.
George the pig came to visit us during our last day of project work. He helped me and Andrew record the last hut structure which was right next to his house. Piggyologist? The project Andrew and I are working on seems important. Everyone in the community has been eager to help and provide their memories. There will be a sense of achievement when we have finished.
I will miss the sound of screeching donkeys, noisy buffalo and the blue light discos at night. I will not miss the sad sound of arguments, fighting dogs and music till all hours. There are far more positives than negatives at Bamyli and I would go back in a heart beat.
Take me back.