Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Back from Ali-Curung

For the last few weeks Karen and I have been in the Northern Territory working and having a short holiday. The work was the Picture This digital storytelling project in Ali-Curung, a remote Aboriginal community in Central Northern Territory. Although it is only 40 kms off the Stuart Highway it is about 5 hours from Alice Springs and 4 hours from Tennant Creek.

We were working out of the Arlpwe Art Centre collecting digital stories for publication and heard some wonderful and sometimes quite amazing personal stories. The first storyteller was Mr Bird, an 80 something year old hard working boomerang maker. He sat in the men's area at the Art Centre and told his stories about working to help set up the township when it was called the Warrabri Welfare Settlement.

One of the Art Centre's workers, Valerie Nelson, told us stories of about her grandmother passing on stories to her. We recorded the story of the painting of Aaki (Blackberry Juice), a dreamtime story, passed on from her grandmother. Her father, Mr Nelson, told us the story about how he survived, as a child, the Conniston Massacre of 1928.

The Ali-Curung Country Gospel band asked us to record their songs on the 'verandah' of Lenny's house. They were so pleased to get a a DVD of their songs that they take out to remote settlements and outstations.

Maureen O'Keefe told us funny stories about the old ladies she grew up with and took us out looking for bush tucker and medicine.

We learnt so much
in two short weeks about life
in Ali-Curung, it seems strange
now to be back in a city
with traffic and broadband and
water restrictions.

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