What better time to learn about history and culture than during NAIDOC Week. We headed south of Sydney to Nowra where we stayed at Illaroo Farm, a beautiful property owned by a collective of Aboriginal people.We were hosted by Uncle Don Jessop and members of a local family. We got busy straight away with some abseiling and a long bushwalk. Uncle Don told us about the creation stories of the rocks and the rivers, and that night we enjoyed a raging fire together with traditional Aboriginal songs from around the country and some from much farther away – Canada to be exact.The next day, after some bending and stretching, we had planned to sail Jervis Bay but the winds came up very strongly – so strongly in fact that electricity lines and trees were down and we spent the remainder of the camp in black-out. It was exciting if hairy. We used the time to explore more about what we know about our families and to check in with one another about how our personal projects are progressing. It is clear that there are still many more questions than answers.
Despite the wind, we still managed to attempt some fishing at the river’s mouth (no fish were biting) after learning how to rig a line with Jada. We saw the Bomaderry Children’s Home which is now the Nowra Local Aboriginal Land Council – some of our participants’ parents were removed to this home as children. And we learned about the local Aboriginal history as we moved through the countryside. When we returned to camp, some of us made some music together and the participants improvised a dining room disco powered by batteries alone.
The morning saw us in the boxing ring. With the sounds of “Rocky” echoing around the hall, we were put through our paces by Alec. We made our own song and dance using the Wiradjuri language.
We enjoyed another delicious meal (thanks aunties!!) and headed back to Sydney – once the trees that had fallen down with the high winds were cleared.