Entry 1: Out of Our Comfort Zones
I am dying to look up and just star gaze for hours, without the light pollution from the Adelaide lights and all other reflective lighting around most major cities…
This will be my first time up in the Northern Territory and my first visit to a remote community. I am really interested to see how life is in a remote location for my distant relatives, as I am part Palawa Kani, and Kaurna heritage and Scottish.
My expectations for the field school…I am thinking it will be very hot and humid, and lots of mozzies. I’m expecting long days and hopefully a fair bit of walking and meeting all of the locals. I’m not 100% sure what exactly we will be doing, but am dead keen to get up there and get into it, meeting new people and listening to their stories, and to learn some of the local Indigenous language.
Camping is something I love but it’s been a while since I have camped in a tent as we own a Jayco outback camper that has all the mod-cons, so getting back to sleeping in a tent will be like going back to my childhood and teens. My expectations are very high when it comes to seeing the night sky: I am dying to look up and just star gaze for hours, without the light pollution from the Adelaide lights and all other reflective lighting around most major cities. I am really hoping for a great night sky spectacle.
Bring it on.
Entry 2: Experiences and Challenges
We all want to see our loved ones return home whenever they leave the house/community and the people of Barunga deserve that same right.
What have I learnt during this field school? Many things and some are not so good. After meeting the community I learned that there was a recent tragedy on the road to Barunga. In my view this tragedy could have been avoided by simply talking to the community and asking their opinion on changes to the legislation regarding alcohol and drinking in the community. Changing the distance in which you can drink or possess alcohol – yes, it stops drinking in the community, but it also just shifts the problem to another place. It also adds additional issues, because now to have a drink you need to walk many miles and to get home you need to repeat that journey – intoxicated. The problem with that is you are on a road with no lights walking and the chances of an accident are very high. We all want to see our loved ones return home whenever they leave the house/community and the people of Barunga deserve that same right. I have learnt that this is not the case.
Visiting a special cave site was an amazing experience, learning the process of how to still enjoy, protect, and preserve the 2,800 year old rock art site is a tricky business in many ways. Accessing the hard to reach sites is hard enough, but you must not brush up against any of the rock art as you will destroy it, so one must move with caution and observe with care.
Understanding that just because you find a spear head on the ground it’s not yours to take, it is important archaeologically, and is a breach of the law.
Entry 3: Take Away Thoughts
Helping in the graveyard was one of the most important and enjoyable tasks I have done to date and I wanted to be a part of that specific team.
I have learnt during my time in Barunga that I have a love for community and that sense of belonging. I actually thought that was a lost feeling and one I can only remember as a child. It’s a great feeling.
My journey over the past 10 years has been tough and I do tend to doubt myself on many occasions. I had a few restless nights in camp, worried I would fail the skin/kin test; I was second-last to sit the test on the last morning. I had already failed the test mentally as I believed there was no chance of remembering, but I was wrong: I did not fail. I actually surprised myself. I actually need to believe in me again and start to trust myself because I showed myself I’m not a complete screw up and my memory still does work, or is trying to. My body held up for most of this adventure, but the last day was bloody hard. I’m not 30 and this trip did remind me how old I am. In saying that my body also told me that if I don’t push myself, then I am just wasting time, so use it or lose it
I really loved my time in Barunga and I know I will be back as I enjoyed learning from the Elders and the community. Helping in the graveyard was one of the most important and enjoyable tasks I have done to date and I wanted to be a part of that specific team. It’s been a learning experience, I have learnt from everyone, young and old alike. Also every night is a great night to sit around a camp fire.
Thank you to all the teachers.