Entry 1: Out of Our Comfort Zones
Driving through the centre of Australia with my wife and two children…whilst incorporating archaeology is the ideal time for me.
The community field trip in Barunga is something I have been internally manifesting for a long time. Driving through the centre of Australia with my wife and two children (who are all also attending the field school) whilst incorporating archaeology is the ideal time for me. It will be my first time in the Northern Territory and I expect to embrace the country, culture and lifestyle. I will look, listen and learn from all the community members at Barunga in a hope to understand the way their community operates. I hope to visit rock art sites and to hear stories that will inspire me to further my studies in archaeology. The field trip is a way for myself to incorporate my favourite fields of study in anthropology, geology and archaeology which I have invested so much time to in my undergraduate degree. I anticipate the week to be life changing for myself and my family and a chance to learn community from a new and different perspective.
Entry 2: Experiences and Challenges
Each night at the campfire we have been watching old films with Aboriginal people – this has been the best experience of the field school for me.
Staying with an Aboriginal community in Arnhem land is incredible. The bush is alive and buzzing with each morning sun and the people here are kind and welcoming in nature. I have spoken to Traditional Owners and many Elders from Barunga, absorbing all their wisdom and knowledge that they share with us.
For this field trip I will work with my wife, Jess, on a project to catalogue stone tools taken from Drupni. We will work with Elders, Guy Rankin, Richard Miller and his wife Carol Pamkal to classify them and to write a report. This project is a great honour and will create more academic opportunities in the future.
I have built a good rapport with Guy who is the Junggayi of Barunga and I look forward to future campfire conversation with him. Each night at the campfire we have been watching old films with Aboriginal people – this has been the best experience of the field school for me. Listening and watching how the Traditional Owners reacted and laughed with certain scenes gave me a new appreciation and understanding for these movies.
There is so much to explore here in and around Barunga; I feel as though this is only the beginning and each day is amazing.
Entry 3: Take Away Thoughts
Then the sacred Indigenous knowledge where Elders at ancient rock art sites called out for and spoke to the ancient ancestors…
Days after the field school and my head is still in Arnhem land, I wish I was back there. I had the most incredible time of my life. To put it into perspective, I have just had the opportunity to interact and learn about one of the oldest and most sophisticated Indigenous cultures in the world. The Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land invited us to the Barunga community and we were privileged to visit ancient rock art sites at Drupni, cook damper by the campfire, watch movies on the local Aboriginal people from the 1960s, survey the cemetery and mark the unmarked grave sites, research the history of the church, and survey Barunga community for past buildings and structures. Jess and I have ‘opened a can of worms’ with a repatriation project on stone tools that custodian, Guy Rankin, has provided us with.
The week in Barunga flew by with so much that went on. I have so much that I can write about from the animals alone, with many families of dogs that roam the community, a random pig, a few cattle and donkeys all making an appearance during the field school. Then the sacred Indigenous knowledge where Elders at ancient rock art sites called out for and spoke to the ancient ancestors, this is fascinating to me as it is far to spiritually connected to the land for my Western perspective to currently understand.
Having my children at Barunga was awesome for Jess and I as it helped us interact with the community. One special thing I must note is that the kids in Barunga have a very high maturity level. I have learned a lot about this culture and myself, I hope to work with them in the future as I have many more question I would love to ask.