Sunday, September 20, 2015

Kimberley rambling

Last weekend I was finally able to visit the community of Mowunjum, near Derby in the far North West corner of of Western Australia.

The ladies visiting Old Mowunjum
I first met Aunty Janet Oobagooma about seven years ago. She is a true living treasure! I've always been in awe of her resilience when hearing her stories of Mowunjum, Old Mowunjum, her country and the precarious life of people who have been moved from pillar to post over the past 50 or so years.

Although our business was in Mowunjum, it was more convenient to stay in Derby. I'd heard a few stories about Derby, mostly people advising not to bother going there, it's in the middle of a salt pan... no beach etc... etc...

Derby is a much nicer place than I expected. I suppose compared to Cable Beach in Broome, the Derby marsh isn't much competition, but the town itself is quite pleasant, quiet and welcoming. The town is full of Boab trees, which are very picturesque in the sunset and the view of the jetty at dusk is pretty awesome too.

Back at the motel it was hard to sleep past 5:00am. Just before the first rays of dawn butcher birds would practice their elaborate songs, quite loudly outside my window. The song of a butcher bird is beautiful but once I am roused from my sleep I rarely go back.

On the second day there a few of us went down to see the old Prison Tree... So we're pulling out of Derby headed toward Mowunjum, the tree was kind of on the way, when Maratja say's "Hey Johnny sent me this song, you should play it now..."
"It's about that Jandamarra"

Johnny is a friend of Maratja's, a really decent bloke and a great folk musician (songwriter). I met him a couple of times at Elcho. When he and a couple of the other guys got together they just made up songs right then and there! 

NRCC Exec members standing by the tree.
So we figure out the technology and hook up his phone to the stereo and there's Johnny singing this awesome song about the injustice of early settlement (among other things) and it's all about the Prison Tree and I'm in a car full of first nation people from East and West Arnhem and I have to explain what the tree is.... (Here's a brief description)
Not an enviable task for a white boy!

If you click the link below you can listen to a sample of the song. I highly recommend purchasing it or even the whole CD. Great music by Johnny McIntyre.

My Mari and I supporting the cause

About 70km out from Broome we visited a spot where a fella was making a courageous stand against the frackers who were planning to drill on his property. Unfortunately we didn't get to meet him but it was good opportunity to discuss the issue prior to the rally which took place in Darwin the following Tuesday.

Many thanks to Aunty Janet and, special thanks to Kirsty Burgu, who allowed us a special visit and interpretive tour of the Arts and Cultural Centre.

Before jumping on a plane and rushing back to Darwin we did stop at Broome's legendary cable beach and I did have an amazing swim... and I did seriously consider not going home!

1 comment:

GreenComotion said...

Great cause, David!
Hang in there...
Peace :)