Saturday 16 October 2010

Australia Adventures: 20. Kakadu National Park and a Taste of My Own Aborigine Art ...

G'Day! Thanks for checking in to my latest instalment of my adventures on the Aussie road...

Up at the crack of dawn, I took day trip to the famous Kakadu National Park a 22,000 sq region east of Darwin on route to the only really place that traditionally Aboriginal people still live in the Top End - Arnhem Lands. A four hour trip first to the wetlands we met an Aboriginal Man 'Graham' from the Limi Ingan - Wulna tribe and his family who educated us about the Didgeridoo, ochre painting, basket and dilly bag weaving and Dreamtime Aboriginal Stories they base their life on. Even got an arm painting myself! Dots signify the desert, and stripes and cross hatching are more accustomed to the Top End and Arnhem Land Area representing the land and waves of the land. His daughter gave a demonstration of weaving baskets and dilly bags. Indigenous people are great craftsman. Didjeridoo's actually come from Darwin originally, whereas the Boomerang actually originates from South Australia.

After leaving Graham, we ventured into the bush of Kakadu - a lot of Aborigines believe that taking photographs of them is stealing their soul so some request that there photographs should not be taken. At the Nowlangie site, we were shown some very impressive rock art at Kakadu is fascinating and is likely to span back 50,000 years depicting Dreamtime stories and Aboriginal Gods as a means to educate the children left in the sheltered coves and ledges where they used to live. The Anbangbang Gallery treats you to century old rock paintings mainly of dance ceremonies and a dreamtime story of Namorrgan, the lightning man. Its amazing to see its still there after all these years...


The Gun-Warddewerde Lookout
 Part of the tour was take a cruise on the 'Billabong' yes, it is a real thing not just a manufactured surf brand of course! The Yellow Water Billabong has the most ample marshlands and is notorious for homing hundreds of crocodiles - our guide told us they'd thrown in a dead wallabie and it took between 8 to 14 seconds to be devoured...lesson to you all. Generally where there's Barramundi fish, there's crocodiles, we must have spotted about 10 surrounding us in that billabong. About 1/3 of Australia's birds species are found in the wetlands, so many whistling birds, pelicans, eagles, storks, ducks, kingsfishers...the whole family here. Check out some photography I took. Pretty magnificent.  

I bid farewell to Darwin, promising myself I will return to see the Arnhem Lands. I headed a few hours south in the Territory to Katherine, which was a predominately Aboriginal town with a series of radio speakers lining the street. I ventured away and went to watch a virtual classroom session of The School Of The Air where children who live on outback towns who can't go to conventional school get educated through virtual internet classroom. It started in Australia in 1966 and is funded by the Australian education department, sending them computers and learning materials. Katherine is the best one in terms of technology, they first used radio so you can imagine the crackling that went on in transmission for the wet season  - was quite something to see especially choir lesson! but this is the reality of how some children need to live in Australia due to the isolating locations they may be growing up in. One girl actually came a showed a snake to her computer screen, so you can imagine the drama which unfolds conducting an 8-10 pupil online classroom - its very entertaining and unpredictable! 

Meeting Artist Adrianna Robinson Napurrula

The highlight of my time in Katherine was when I hitch hiked to an out of town to an Art Gallery 7km away where I got to meet Aboriginal Artists Emmanuel and Adrian who taught me how to paint the traditional dot painting and got myself my very own Didgeridoo - which is now my new travel companion. Adriana was one of the resident artists who I spent some time with, a lot of aborigine people are very shy but Adriana was extremely friendly and opened up about her life as an aborigine woman inspiring me create my own Aborigine Dreamtime bookmark story.  Her paintings centred around 'Woman Dreaming' and the activities of Woman in the Aboriginal World collecting 'bush tucker' and stories from her mother. Each tribe or 'skin' have different symbols to mean certain creatures, objects, people, landmarks and actions to depict their 'Dreaming Stories'.

Using these symbols, some acrylic paint and the end of a skew stick, I made my own dreamtime story...

Tadah! White dots around the symbols signify humans as well as the centre point of the on 

My Aborigine Dreamtime Story

'The Walkabout'

'An aborigine elder and his grandson, the elder carrying a spear and the grandson a small boomerang. They are in grey and sitting around a roaring campfire on the red dust and sand of the barren desert. A dingo is sitting obediently next to the warmth of the fire. The elder is telling his grandson about the country and riches of the lands food and animals. It is now time for the grandson to be shown the riches, so they must go on a 'Walkabout' across the land. The young boy is shown how to find bush tomato and bush tucker. They follow an emu across the land and the grandson goes off to find bush plums on his own. They arrive at a waterhole to see a red kangaroo drinking from a waterhole on the red dust'

- Cool! proud of that.

Cross hatching with grass blades is another style of Aboriginal Art

Spending the afternoon at the gallery was amazing, spending time with the real native people. I learnt so much about Aborigine Art and the cryptic meaning behind it - I'm now a fan.

I was really lucky, especially when I got a hitchiking ride back into Katherine after walking the highway in the sunset. Was awesome. Apart from seeing all the road kill :( there's a lot of it out here...

I'm now hoping to arrange a road trip with some other travellers to explore the Northern Territory further, I can't wait to see Uluru right in the red centre!

Until next time...

With Lonely Planet Guide Australia 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks a bunch for your time reading about my experience in Kakadu. The Northern Territory was a great unwrapping of the rooted Aborigine Culture of Australia - brought home alot of Aborigine art!


Scribble back!