Kalkarindji, NT 2019 - Day 9

Today we woke up with mixed up feelings. It is our last official working day at Kalkaringi, the energy is definitely not the same as Day 1, but there’s eagerness and anxiety to finish up what we had started a week ago. This day became a real challenge to the team: we had to finish the furniture and the shadings for Big Shady 2.

We arrived to site to engage in our favorite task: concreting. This time, we had applied texture to the formwork by using the rubber carpet patterns we had bought in Katherine. After pouring all the concrete into the second BBQ base, we all got into the cars to visit a Kalkaringi family and their house (Dad, Mom and two kids). It was shocking to see the precarious state of the house, and seing mattresses on the bedroom floors and one of them next to the kitchen in the living area made it very evident that spaces are not used as we might expect they would. We were all shocked when we heard that this was one of the “good houses”. Overwhelmed by this visit, more questions were raised as to how we can improve quality of life by re-thinking housing solutions once we get back to Melbourne.

We returned to site to finish the last tasks of the day: putting together two shade screens by tek-screwing steel angles to the shady and then attaching the metallic grills to the frames. Also, attaching the mahogany slab to the steel angles already set in place in the north-east side of the shady, and fixing up a secondary narrower sitting bench across the south-east side.

During the day, artists came from the Karungkarni Art Center to continue helping us with the paintings on Big Shady 1 columns. Marilyn, one of the younger artists, told us about her Dreaming and some very interesting bush stories.

We finished working at around 16:30, then headed to the Arts Centre, where Penny explained the amazing job that the Center does for the community, and all that can be done in the future to improve it.  As Penny spoke, the drumming of the rain upon the Art Centre’s tin roof made everyone think about their –most likely- soaked tents and pillows back at campsite. When rain decreased to a drizzle, it was time for a final stop at the Club. We all had our last beers as a final reward to a very productive last work day. We were all happy with all we had accomplished. However, we were also quite sad and left the bar struggling to say goodbye to the many familiar faces we had come to know during our short but intensive days in this wonderful community.

Our last camping dinner involved many of us eating on the ground by the fire, while our chairs were being used to dry pillows and yoga mats from the unexpected afternoon rain.

Annabelle and Maria