Adventures in the Top End

August 16th, 2010 · No Comments »

I have just returned from a week in the Top End of Australia. As part of the Wakakirri National Story Festival, for which I am Festival Director, we were making short films with schools in three different Indigenous communities, Barunga, Jilkminggan & Beswick/Wugularr.

I am pleased to say that I didn’t get eaten by any crocodiles, I had only one run in with a snake, I didn’t get sun burnt and due in part to these things, I had a brilliant time.

Most of the kids working on the films were adorable and it was great to chat with them about the stuff they get up to in their communities, including some things which make my reckless childhood look like a G rated preschool show. We were at a billabong when one of the kids found a snake. He yelled out to the others and rather than fleeing to safety, they all congregated around the venomous creature to poke at it. Their teachers just sat back and one of them said ‘Great, that’ll keep them amused for a few minutes.’ I’m not sure that Chicken Stu would have been able to cope with this particular situation.

It is always a wonderful feeling to enter an area filled with cultural and environmental curiosities. It’s somewhat like entering the world of a good book; you know that there is so much to explore and take in, and this is incredibly exciting. I think we assume that all of Earth has been discovered and explored now, and yes some dead men and women have certainly paved and in some places tarred the way, but that doesn’t mean that as individuals we shouldn’t pick up a compass, or a road atlas before setting off into the unknown. Though I have to admit, even with a compass, a road map and a GPS system, I still get ridiculously lost. In fact, I could be going from Point A to Point B all along the same road, with no turns whatsoever, and I could still get lost – it’s one of my many talents. It happens with writing as well, even if I plan out a story down to the finest detail, I always end up veering off the set course.

But then again, that’s usually where the real adventures begin.

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