Trip Start Sep 09, 2007
5Trip End Sep 13, 2007
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This is Yanyuwa country. Yanyuwa country includes the township of Borroloola, and stretches out to the Gulf of Carpentaria to include the offshore islands and nearby seagrass meadows.
It's an exciting time for the people because in a couple of weeks they will be handed back some of this land. The sea rangers I work with are charged with the responsibility of keeping the coastal lands, seagrass meadows and islands healthy. Seagrass is particularly important to marine turtles and dugongs
The conference involved about 200 - 300 Indigenous people from all over the north (WA, NT, QLD, Torres Strait)--mainly sea rangers and others involved in sea country work.
The conference is an opportunity for the groups to come together, to see what each other a doing, to learn, and to build strength in the community.
A big issue was the federal government's recent decision to end CDEP funding. The ABC came to the conference to report on this issue, here is their report http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/09/11/2030266.htm
I found the conference really interesting and I loved the workshops. I learnt how to skin a croc and how to build a bee hive.
I had to keep pinching myself--to remind myself that I was really here. One moment in particular... having a shower outdoors (in a fab Hessian shower cubical made for the occasion), looking up at a billion stars, out in the bush, listening to the band start-up. And this is my work, not a holiday!
One of the best moments... one night, after dinner and while taking a quite moment to reflect; noise, laughter, singing and dancing 'erupted' from the Traditional Owners' camp. Around a campfire, people gathered for a performance lead by the Yanyuwa women-they are strong and seem to lead the community. It was an unscripted mix of traditional songs and stories, comical performances, a workshop for kids to learn dances and a cultural exchange between the TOs and Maori sea rangers who had come to the conference from New Zealand. The Haka went down a treat and the Maori guys had everyone joining in to learn the moves. Magic!