In the first part of my trip, I was part of a Cultural Tour to Nauiyu, where we spent time with one of the Sharing Culture Advisors, Miriam Rose Ungunmerr Baumann. I then headed to Katherine with Pip Gordon and her family, where I spent time with a number of interesting people, including another of our Advisors, Miliwanga (Mel) Sandy.
Finally, I enjoyed myself at the Barunga Festival, where I listened to some great music, immersed myself in Indigenous culture and sport… and met Margaret Katherine. And I got to drive back to Darwin with Judy Atkinson, the lady who inspired me into this field and whom I had never met. We had some very interesting discussions over the days we were together.
I remember talking with my new Cultural Tour friends about the impact that our Nauiyu trip was having on each of us. We all felt the same. How on earth are we going to explain to other people how we feel about our experiences? How do we explain how much the people of Nauiyu, the community, and the surrounding country were impacting on us? How do we explain to others the emotions that we cannot explain properly to ourselves?
I still feel the same as I write this. As I think about Nauiyu, I well up inside, tears come to my eyes, and I just cannot explain why this is happening. I guess it was just such a powerful personal experience. Maybe the only people who can appreciate this are the people who were there.
And yet Nauiyu was only part of my amazing trip. Only part of the experiences that I will try to describe in my future blogs. I’m not sure how well I’ll be able to do this, as I seem to have been in some sort of alternative reality. A place where I ‘woke up’ to a number of new things.
I hope this makes sense. If it doesn’t, it’s probably because I’m still reflecting and trying to make sense of all that happened, including all the coincidences that seemed to happen. It was as if I was (we were) not in control of what was happening - the cosmos seems to have plans for us.
It’s time that I finish here and get back to the funding proposal I am writing. I want to visit the NT again soon with a film crew to capture what is going on in the places I visited. It’s time to move the Voices of the Rivers project on to the next stage.
For now, I want to thank all those people I met in the NT and who helped make my time so special. To my Cultural Tour family, love and miss you. Hope you have come down to Planet Earth. To my beautiful friends in Nauiyu, thank you for helping me ‘awaken’. To Ash Dargan, thank you for your beautiful music and for helping me realise that I too was ‘caught in the middle.’
To Judy Atkinson, thank you for so many stimulating discussions. To Fleur, Margaret, Nellie, Bilawara, Tony, Julien, Jax and Noel - it was great to meet you. To Pip, Jonathan, Erin and Caleb, thanks for putting up with me. You are a truly special family.
And to Miliwanga (Mel) Sandy - thank you from the bottom of my heart for making me your brother. I am so proud to be part of your family and look forward to working together with you and Margaret in the future.