Sunday, September 20, 2009

the camp at Kunupurul Rock Hole

Kunupurul Rock Hole is about 15 km from Warburton. Its been chosen because its the country of an older man who remembers taking part in dancing and ceremony here when he was a child, the dance ground is still there, and a rock hole with permanent water. Both need "waking up" and this place has been chosen to begin the 3 year Kurrurnpa Tjanyarltu (Waking up the Spirit) program to help young people in trouble to find their way again. When we arrive its been going for 3 days already and there are groups of tents and tarps scattered through the spinifex and hugging the few solitary trees and shrubs. The ubiquitous landcruiser is much in evidence too. David Brooks, anthropologist and instigator of the program points us in the direction of a flattish area and we gingerly make our way through the spinifex trying to avoid tyre spiking sticks and soft red dirt. But its a relief to be getting going at last, and we are all looking forward to a few days under the open sky.

Nalda's set up. The scar in the mulga tree is where a piece has been removed to make a womera - spear thrower

camp kitchen

Tim gets the firewood pile going

After setting up we are invited to go over to Lala West's camp. She is busy making mulga wood animals, boomerangs and dishes which will be decorated with burned marks using story wires - punu work. The punu man is due to visit from Alice Springs and buy up big. Everyone is getting a good stock ready to cash in on his visit. Lala is incredibly deft with a very sharp hatchet and the chips fly as a boomerang appears from a curved piece someone has cut for her. The bush camp is a good opportunity to get some fresh mulga wood and get carving.

This afternoon is dance practise and we all walk over to the dance ground to watch. The young boys and girls are getting painted up - girls with black and white paint and boys with red ochre - half hidden behind brush "wings". Its very hot in the full sun but the excitement is overwhelming. Accompanied by singing and rythm sticks the boys then the girls are led out by the senior men and women to practise their steps, they are shy but very proud and excited. This is what the camp is all about.

Watching the dance

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