Immersion Trip Update
Some of our intrepid Immersion team members have provided us with an insight into the first few days they have experienced in the Northern Territory.
We arrived at the airport early & eager to head off on our adventure. Meeting at 7.30am, we checked in before heading through security on to the plane. Some of us slept, some of us chatted on the plane, and in no time we were descending on Darwin. Our Red Earth leaders were ready & waiting for us at our gate. They helped us collect our bags and we all hopped on the bus bound for the Jumping Crocodile Cruise.
The cruise was amazing – the crocs were massive and not shy!! We saw so many crocodiles jumping out of the water to grab chicken being hung on a stick next to the boat. After the tour we got back on the bus and headed to our campsite at Marrakai for the night. We’re excited to head to our first homeland tomorrow morning.
Today we began at Marrakai, packing up camp early ahead of our journey to Murdudjurl homeland.
We jumped on the bus for our 2 hours drive to Murdudjurl – driving in to the community, first impressions were that the homeland was different to what we expected, very isolated and rural. We were greeted by Mandy, the Elder & Traditional Owner of Murdudjurl, who took us for a Welcome to Country ceremony, so that the spirits and past Elders of the land would know we were here and would look after us. The ceremony was done by Mandy taking water from her country and spitting it on us.
Mandy then spent time with us before lunch teaching us about the kinship system and gave us ‘skin names’ which tell us how we are related to the different people of Murdudjurl, who we can marry and who we can’t talk to – it’s really complicated but very interested. My skin name is Nawamud. We met some kids at the homeland, one of whom, Loshawn, has started to get along really well with the boys in the group. We play games with him and he is going to join us for dinner, which is awesome.
We had a swim to cool off in the early afternoon and Loshawn joined us. It was great to cool down because it has been SO HOT here. We then headed off to Yellow Waters Billabong for a sunset cruise, with Mandy as our guide. Mandy told us all about the wildlife (everything is food & a delicacy) and why different animals are important to her community. We’re heading back to camp now for dinner, and looking forward to hearing more stories from Mandy & her family.
This morning we were woken up at 6.30am where we were served french toast for breakfast by the designated cooking crew for today. After breakfast we got changed and walked up to the community garden.
We were split into two groups where we alternated between clearing out the vegetable patch and playing with the kids from the homeland. We spent two hours working and at the end of our session we walked back to our campsite and had toasted sandwiches for lunch. We relaxed for an hour and tried to stay cool before jumped on the bus to head out to the Warradjan Cultural Centre in Coodina. We had a tour of the cultural centre where Mandy told us about her ancestors, the history of the area and she shared her knowledge & culture with us. We learned about traditional weapons, hunting techniques and the significance of dreaming stories in the region.
We had a quick look at the gift shop – where we bought out mascot, a stuffed crocodile we have named Brutus. We then got back on the bus to head to the pool for a much needed cool off. We swam with the kids from Murdudjurl and enjoyed the flushing toilets of Cooinda before we all got back on the bus.
Back at the homeland we prepared spaghetti bolognese for dinner while some of us played with the kids and shared stories amongst the group. After dinner we reflected on our day while sitting around the campfire before heading off to bed.
We woke up to watch the sun rise this morning which was beautiful. We then sat around the fire talking with the local kids and had some cereal for breakfast. Loshawn played the didgeridoo while we listened and watched which was very cool to see.
Once breakfast was done we got ourselves ready and hopped on the bus. We headed out to a rock art site called Nourlangie Rock. Mandy took us around and showed us all the amazing rock art paintings which you can clearly still see on the rock walls – some of these painting are over 6000 years old according to Mandy. We headed back to camp for lunch before going back to the pool to cool off – which was so nice and necessary! After a shower and some fresh water to fill up our drink bottles (which always heats up so quickly you could make tea with it!), we headed back to camp.
We then headed out with Mandy to find pandanus reeds which we are going to learn to weave with. We then went to another area to find the roots and plants which we will use to dye the reeds different colours – we are going to learn to make bracelets in the morning. It was really hard to get to the pandanus reeds as they are up really high on the trees, so Mandy showed us how to use this fancy hook she has made to rip them down.
Back at camp, the boys continued making their clapsticks while the dinner crew prepared chicken burritos for dinner. Others of us chatted as a group near the billabong while we watched the sun set – we saw so many cockatoos and different birds, it was beautiful.
After dinner, we had a reflection around the fire, talking about what we have seen, learned and how we are feeling about heading to another homeland soon. We are all pretty tired from the heat and looking forward to bed.