Kalkarindji, NT 2019 - Day 2

We wake up aloft a significant hill, which anomalies the flat landscape we surround.

The pleasing introduction to the Northern Territory wears thinner after already cleaning our dirty clothes and drying them at the hill’s edge, the chance to catch one's breath escapes in the reality of another tent pack down and we haven’t began working yet. We crouch pooling and heating water in someone’s billy to eventually pour over some fresh coffee grinds to amend the situation.

We drive down through the bracken and attempt to negotiate the scratches, after last night causing internal conniption for some principal drivers and their hire car insurance. The landscape changes into a welcomed open red earthen land. We flail around in large circles and unforgiving dips and bumps to come to the historically significant Wave Hill Station. Broken housing slabs, steel frames and rudimentary drum toilets with steel seats litter the field. The emotion creeps through as we begin to feel what it was like for Vincent Lingiari and fellow Gurindji ngumpin who once lived here. We close the gate to the former site and discuss with David and Jamie about Melbourne University’s involvement in the Wave Hill Walk Off Pavilions, which mark significant moments along the walk once taken by the Gurindji as they left the work they did at Vesteys Cattle Station.

We reach Kalkaringi, after stopping at the Pavilion along the creek where Vincent and the Gurindji found water in the depth of the dry season by digging deep into the dry creek silt. When we finally made it to the final Pavillion in the town of Kalkaringi we couldn’t fathom the fear they endured of not know how the Katiya might respond. We all felt a deeper sense of fortitude for these Gurindgi, and the meaning for us to be here in Kalkaringi.

We broke into three main groups to begin work after remembering our holiday was over. We found gear in Gurindgi Corp and material in the ensemble of shipping containers left with the forethought of prior Bower Studios. The tasks were to define either our interest in materiality, particular affinity with certain power tools or architecture it was to create. I couldn’t be sure what it was for me however I did connect deeply with the process of manipulating the robust profile of hot rolled steel with the noise and hostility of an angle grinder, so I joined the BBQ group. Others attracted to the intersecting nature of galvanized c-purlins were to join the Y-Rafter group, while some fancied toiling around with wood to make formwork for the BBQ.

The end of the day drew close and it was important to make presence in the town by being seen at the local drinking quarter: the club. We hadn’t known what to expect with the descriptions led by David and others whom had previously visited, however it was a fine establishment full of character and became a regular place to end up to relax after a gritty day’s work. We set out to find camp for the evening at 7 mile, and as part of the “Dilly Dally” group it was our responsibility to cook for everyone in the evening. We had brought the unfinished BBQ to rudimentarily stack on a pile of rocks above the fire, an attempt to experiment with the appropriate height of the BBQ prior to its permanent place in central park Kalkaringi. Despite the hesitations our first day working together was to mark an important sense of purpose with the town and closeness within the group. It seemed by then I had already known I would look back favorably at the long days and dessert nights in Kalkaringi.

Alex