Northern Territory Immersion Trip

We welcomed back our Immersion group at last week’s Spirituality Assembly celebrating the Feast of St Francis of Assisi. A number of the girls spoke about some of the highlights of the trip and how it had made a massive impact on their lives. The girls maintained a blog to chronicle their adventures. Here is a sample of one of the daily entries:

The camp woke up at 7:00am this morning to a family of wallabies across the billabong. Some cereal and fruit salad for breakfast had us well prepared for the day ahead. We travelled in the troopies to meet up with Mandy for a tour of the Nourlangie Rock, viewing some 20,000 year old rock art. On the tour we viewed bush red apple trees that flower just before/during wet season. Also spotting some hollow trees capable of making traditional didgeridoos. Mandy pointed out another native honey bee hive in the base of a termite nest.

In the steaming heat we followed the trail to see some outstanding preserved indigenous paintings depicting traditional dancing, hunting scenes, animal species found in the area, Mimi spirits and other haunting figures. Mandy showed us grinding holes seen nearby at almost every artwork, she explained that the circular grooves in the rocks were used to mix paints and ochre by her ancestors. Mandy guided us to the lookout with an outstanding view of the rock face where she told us a story about how a specific balanced rock with sharp edges got there.

Following this, Mandy took us to her favourite location in the park. A shady, cool area with a slanted rock face displaying more rock art. After the first fascinating tour from Mandy we took the troopies to Warradan (language for pig nose turtle) Cultural Centre. Here is a tourist destination in Kakadu National park to showcase the culture in all communities in the surrounding locations, however was constructed by Mandy and her extended family, as well as neighbouring clans. When we first walked in to the aircon we were so relieved! Mandy discussed the importance of Language in aboriginal culture and how it has transformed over the years and across all regions.

Next we saw an image of the infamous rock art that depicts the first contact with the white men. The 74m painting that has very clear images of figures wearing shoes and holding guns (humorously above their head as the indigenous people at the time thought they were used similarly to spears) unfortunately cannot be seen in person as the location of it is on sacred ground where many elders are buried. Next there was an image of the rainbow serpent and the role she plays. Beside that was poisonous and non poisonous yams that hold much nutritional value as Mandy explained. There was traditionally made spear heads and crafted pandanus. We walked by a section of the centre which developed our understanding of our skin names further showing who we could marry in our clan and other relationships. Mandy focused on a display of buffalo and the introduction of cattle, pigs and horses which have become wild since the white men brought them. Mandy discussed the photos of her grandmother and grandfather preparing the hides of horses, buffalo and crocs for financial benefit at the time. Continuing through the centre there was an auditory recording of Mandy’s grandmother and other family members discussing there connection to her country. Mandy gestured us the mounted quotes and images of her own clan and other clans.

Once we left the centre we had a troopie ride back to the same pool as yesterday for another refreshing swim accompanied by a delicious selection of ice creams. Back in the troopies all relaxed to the homestead to have a look at tomorrow’s community service project in preparation to paint and reconst a room that will transform into art centre for painting and weaving. After a long day we arrived back to camp where the cooking team organised lots of curry and rice for dinner to feed us and our 5 guests Lulu, Stephen, Kingy, Alex and Amelio. The delicious meal and interesting conversation with our guests had us all ready for a good nights’ sleep.

It was an amazing experience for all involved. A massive thank you to Mrs Murphy and Ms Ribiero who gave up their holidays to allow our girls to be part of something very special. You are both fabulous and your commitment to our College is something we are all very appreciative of.

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