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Living off the land – Arnhem land photographic adventures

Arnhem land photographic adventures

I’m grateful for the experiences I have and the photographic adventures that I’m apart of. Often the work I do as a photographer opens the door to see and partake in a world we don’t often see. It is during these experiences that I gain a great understanding for the way in which different cultures and peoples live. My mind is further enlightened, my respect for others increases and my understanding of others develops. I really love and search for opportunities to abide with and document people in their own way of life and environment.

On this occasion I was invited to a remote Indigenous community in Far East Arnhem Land. The community called Ramingining is very isolated from everything. The closest city Darwin is over 600km away on rough rugged roads and is inaccessible by vehicle during the heavy raining wet seasons, where roads become impassable. The community has approximately 800 people living in and around the area, many of the people have no knowledge of life outside of the community, yet they live in a loving and welcoming place.

To get to this place far from easy. Not only do you have to live in a different standard of living, but you must also gain permission and grants from the elders of the community. I was lucky enough to do this and take with me my family. In the end we spent a good 6 weeks there and gained a wealth of experiences we could not even imagine. This was a fantastic opportunity for me, and especially my children to learn a different way of lifestyle and interact with people of a totally different culture.

On arriving I discovered that there was little in the way of supplies. There is a tiny shop that stocks food and every day living items from Darwin. They are brought in by a Barge via the ocean and waterways and come in every 2 weeks, so taking careful stock take of what you have is essential. Having our 8-month-old baby with us did catch us out. There simply wasn’t a way of just going down to the local shops for his supplies of baby food and nappies. We actually did get caught short, and luckily enough a surprise flight to the mainland allowed us to stock up on the things we needed.

For the majority of the time we discovered that for every day living it was easier and way more fun to hunt and gather our food. Thanks to our friends and the loving hospitality of the local people we were taken to the best places to find our every day food supplies of mud crab, barramundi, magpie geese, buffalo and turtle. Each day we set off on an amazing adventure to catch what we wanted to eat and at the same time become educated on how to accomplice this.

I remember vividly my 6-year-old son learning how to make spears from scratch using stones and trees. In saying this we preferred using the trusty shotgun and fishing rods for most hunts, although we did also use sticks and made hooks for catching turtles and mud crabs.

The local people became very friendly with us and shared with us many things. As we opened ourselves up to their way of life, they began to share more and more, and our kids began to catch on to the basics of their native language. At times I wondered if I could teach the people more about my modern lifestyle and way of doing things. When reflecting on it I thought maybe their way is primitive and needs some serious upgrading, however when comparing simply ways of life I discovered sometimes our way of living in the western European way can seem primitive or complex anyway.

In the community when hungry we would go shoot some geese, pluck them, start a fire, cook the food, eat then relax. This became a very simple exercise in comparison to spending a few hours down the grocery store, time preparing the meal, setting up the table, eating and then more time doing dishes. Sometimes it just seemed easier to do away with some of those steps and seemed much easier and less complicated.

I found the food although prepared and presented a little differently to be delicious and wholesome, and of course the whole adventure of hunting for it ourselves was amazing. There are many stories that I will tell about what we did there and how we did it, but for now I will leave this blog post here by saying it was an amazing experience like none other.

If you have heard of Yolngu people that was where we were and this is where the film 10 Canoes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten_Canoes was filmed see the trailer here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Vzf9BAVGZc. For info on where we were and who we were with visit this site http://www.yolnguboy.com/directory/htm/frameset3.htm

 

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