Kalkarindji, NT 2019 - Day 1
We spend our first morning gathering supplies from Katherine and stop to watch the ANZAC Day parade through town before our long journey south.
We are all grateful of a pause from driving as we stop to refuel in Top Springs (and have a much needed bathroom break!), which is the last service station and bottle-shop before reaching destination Kalkaringi. After a good four hours driving our pace slows, as we finally turn off onto a bumpy track through a cattle station, still operating. It isn’t until our cars reach the previous Bower Studio project - the Wave Hill Walk Off Pavilion, that we realize we’re at the historical site of the Vestey’s Cattle Station, formerly known as Wave Hill. We stand here admiring the symbolic beginning of the Wave-Hill walking track, as all we have read about the landscape and the historic significance of the site becomes grounded. We are standing where Vincent Lingiari first led the local Gurindji, Mudburra and Walpiri people off the cattle station, and onto their landmark Aboriginal Equality and Land Rights movement known as the Wave-Hill Walk Off.
Greeting us at the site, we were introduced to Rosie Smiley, Vincent’s Grand-Daughter, Rob Roy AKA Double R, Traditional Owner of the area, Phil, general manager of Gurindji Corp and Nooki, Rosie’s brother in law. And of course, the flies. Our introductions however were brief, spying a satellite dish and TV on the back of Nooki’s ute, pushing the insurance policies of our rental cars through cattle station back “roads” to Possum Hill to set up camp and catch the end of a footy game in true NT style.
That evening we tested our outback culinary abilities, cooking fried rice atop a bonfire while enjoying an extended sunset from our table-top vantage point. Double R played songs sung by Vincent Lingiari and Paul Kelly, welcoming us to country with Rosie in Gurindji language. These songs, teamed with videos of the Kalkaringi Freedom Day Festival introduced us to Kalkaringi through the eyes of proud locals, a place with a resilient and powerful history, both ancient and recent. We are all truly in awe of the evening, and acutely aware of how we would never have had this remarkable experience, in this place with these people, without our adventurous side deciding to send that application email to Bower Studio - and we can’t stop telling each other how glad we are that we did.
Gemma & Rosie