Sunset and star filled sky abruptly spoilt by an inconsiderate fellow camper and his generator. Couldn’t stand camping without the air conditioning. I told him what I thought of him, eventually it was peace and quiet again. Breakfast at Tennant Creek was quick, plentiful and cheap, and from now on, many indigenous men proudly wore full cowboy regalia from the hat to the cuban heels. Skilled cattlemen on their country. Shame about the helicoptors taking away the jobs on horseback, we spotted one rounding a mob up in the early morning light.
After exploring the beautiful clean gorges and waterholes in the ranges, I was so excited to experience the Ochre pits. Steep creek banks of the most beautiful golden yellow, white and burgundy red ochre I’ve ever seen in the one place. I did not remove any as the traditional owners left a sign requesting none be taken. But I was filled with joy at the site of such beautiful pigment and wondered if it was a woodduck dreaming dance being performed by the ochre painted women in Spencer’s photograph provided at the site. I had told Gladys about my woodduck as a child who followed me everywhere and felt quite at home in woodduck dreaming country.
I found a caravan park in a small Aranda community in the spectacular Macdonnell Ranges NP. It is near Hermannsburg, famous due to Namatjira and contemporary pottery. Wallace Rockhole CP and its art centre have been run for over 30 years by Ken and other members of the community such as a cool young Aranda man called Brian who showed us bush medicine plants, rock engravings and ochre. We talked to Brian and Ken about the Intervention, there are no alcohol or pornography signs in every community, as though everyone is an alcoholic or sexual deviant, which is obviously false and extremely shameful for people in the community. The income management creates so many dramas due to the voucher card system, that many people have moved interstate. Met a lady called Gladys who was painting her honey ant dreaming and lots of food plants. I loved her sister’s paintings and bought one, such a talented artist, and she had moved to Victoria to escape the intervention. A beautiful community, my kids did not want to leave. We were the only people in the caravan park.
Uluru and Kata Tjuta, so many people visit these rock formations but how many people speak to Anangu locals or choose a cultural tour rather than the climb. I’d say almost everyone ignores the large sign requested by traditional owners to abstain from the climb. We met Valerie Brumby a Pitjantjatjara speaker and her Japanese interpreter on a cultural tour. A comprehensive explanation of a rock art site on Uluru preceded being shown the signs of action snake creation ancestors left before freezing to form enormous sections of the rock.
Red Kangaroos, giant red ochre grasshoppers, birds of prey especially wedge tailed eagles, wild brumby, emus, desert lizards, dingoes, camels, lots of orb weavers and so many birds and insects I’ve never seen before. Central Australia has had so much rain recently its really lush! All the animals are healthy and rivers and creeks are flowing for the first time in years.