Showing posts from June, 2014

Cultural Differences Between the Indigenous and Non-Indigenous People Living on Groote Eylandt

We are all born into an ‘acculturation process’. The moment we open our eyes, images flood our spongy, undeveloped brain, and ‘voila’, life has been pre-written for us in many ways without our choosing, or knowing for that matter. It’s almost inconceivable to weigh up exactly which parts of us have truly stemmed from our own being (or whether that’s even possible), and which parts are hard-wired during the early years of the acculturation process. Now, I’m not just talking about the food we eat or the language we speak; cultural influences go much, much deeper than what is observable by the eye or ear. ‘We are given or acquire invisible cultures- with culturally determined rules, habits and imperatives determining the way we go about things. And we take it for granted that, for each of us, our own belief and action systems are natural and normal.’ (Burgoyne & Lalara, 2007, p.14)

It’s only when we are completely removed from our own culture or see someone breaking the ‘invisible’ ru…

Our First Video Documenting a Camping Trip on Groote Eylandt


Turtle Hunting With Our Aboriginal Friends on Groote Eylandt

Days before arriving on island, I found myself endlessly day-dreaming about what my new life in the NT might be like. I’d excitedly dream up scenarios where I’d find myself immersed in Indigenous culture. Most commonly, I’d picture myself sitting cross-legged in the dirt, listening intently, as an Indigenous elder would devotedly tell dreaming stories or teach me interesting things about the land. On other occasions she’d invite me to join her on a bare-foot bush walk to gather various berries and teach me which ones could poison the ignorant white man. We’d head back just before dark and wait for the men to return with speared fish and turtle to accompany our bush tucker and we’d all sit around the camp fire laughing and sharing new and common foods together. I didn’t share these dreams with anyone, because I knew that that’s exactly what they were…dreams. To soften my impending disappointment, I’d always conclude my conjured up stories by giving a long inaudible sigh, followed by a d…

Learning to Fish With a Hand Reel on Groote Eylandt

A few weeks ago, a group of Indigenous girls showed me how they catch fish by crushing up small live shells and attaching the gooey flesh to basic hand lines. I was amazed by their success rate in catching decent-sized fish using what seemed like such a simple method, and decided to put my new knowledge into practise over the long weekend while camping at Marble Bay. I can now proudly announce that I am a successful hunter of the deep!
I caught a countless amount of small coral fish; some of which involuntarily became bait, but most returned to the sea after being woman-handled (much worse off than man-handled in this scenario) and sporting a new lip-piercing. After about an hour of playing catch and release, dinner finally attached itself to my line. Before I could even let out a girlish squeal, I had a 20cm bream flapping around my feet and line-burn on my poor little pinkie to prove that I, carer of two hungry boys (one slightly more hairy than the other), could deliver fish straigh…

Adrian's Recount of Camping at Jagged Heads on Groote Eylandt

It was 7am Saturday morning and Casey was already in the kitchen preparing hamburger patties for our evening camp-fire-cooked meal. Wary of getting in her way, I decided to head out the front and load the camping essentials into the back of the Troopy.
We started heading for the most northern recreational area of Groote Eylandt called Jagged Head. Once again, we (perhaps stupidly) decided to go the journey alone. Although, as we’ve now learnt how easy it is to find ourselves in a sticky (or in our case, sandy) situation, we teed up a check-in with our neighbour,  just in case we ran into some trouble. ‘So if we’re not back by 3pm on the Sunday, we're probably somewhere we shouldn’t be’ I joking shouted over the fence. Whilst I say ‘joking’, troublingly, the possibility of not making it back in time was a very realistic one.
For me, the exciting part of the weekend began at the turnoff to Jagged Head; 30km of unsealed road with overgrown woodland jam-packed on both sides and muddy sw…

How to Celebrate NAIDOC Week at School

NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee. It was created to 'increase awareness in the wider community of the status and treatment of Indigenous Australians' (cited from the NAIDOC website).

Put more simply, NAIDOC Week is a time to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and an opportunity to recognise the contributions that Indigenous Australians make to our country and our society. With frequent negative media attention, it's important that we take time to celebrate all the rich culture and knowledge Indigenous people can share with us if we choose to listen.

During NAIDOC week, all Australians are encouraged to participate in celebrations and activities relating to Indigenous culture. Here are some ideas taken from the NAIDOC website published by the Australian Government.

Invite local Indigenous people to your school or workplace to share their knowledge about the land. They may be able to te…

Camping at Jagged Heads on Groote Eylandt

Last week Adrian and I ventured out to a spot called Jagged Head. We camped under the stars, literally, as we slept on foam mattresses wedged into the luggage rack atop our Troopy. I woke up several times throughout the night in fear that I’d roll off and break my neck; either that, or survive the fall and be dragged to the shallows of the water by a hungry croc lurking on the sand below. The upside to my disturbed sleep was that every time I opened my eyes, the glowing Milky Way had shifted in the night sky. It was a spectacular sight; one I’d never really stopped to admire before (perhaps due to the lights of the city outshining the stars-both literally and metaphorically). The time we spent out at Jagged Head would undoubtable fall into my top three favourite life experiences. Most of my favourite travelling experiences have involved an element of unfamiliarity or surprise e.g. wandering through the elaborate Disneyland-style castle where the queen of Portugal once resided and spend…

A Day at Picnic Beach on Groote Eylandt

We had long forgotten about our bogging the previous weekend; and after a tiring working-week (for one of us at least), we were ready to escape town and head back into the unknown.

This time we had the joy of accompanying some Indigenous folk out to their ‘usual spot’ under the shade of the ginormous banyan tree on Picnic Beach. Before Adrian’s friends had even mentioned cooking lunch over a bonfire or that fishing would be on the agenda, Adrian and I were smiling like Cheshire cats at the thought of such an authentic island experience. We decided to meet our convoy at a forked road which would inevitably lead us back along the sandy path that caused us such panic less than a week ago.David and Nancy, their daughter, Anna, and two teenage girls were piled into a Troopy identical to ours*. They gave us a friendly wave as they sped past us and another 4x4 carrying Deb and John; Adrian’s family friends from back in Bega that coincidently arrived on island only months before us. David’s Troo…