Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Our indigenous experience!

G'Day mates! 

Chailey asked if I wanted to be a guest and write one of her blogs for her so here I am! 

After our adrenaline filled trip to cairns, it was time to move on to our next adventure. The travel company we had booked our east Coast travel with, Loka (highly recommended), offered an exclusive one night stop in a beautiful area called Tully to stay at an indigenous camp on some of their land in the mountains. (The mountain range was called the Misty Mountains, the LOTR fanboy in me was very happy with that.) 

Taking a dip in the misty mountains. 

We met one of the guys, Warren, we were staying with at the train station and shortly after his uncle Doug arrived. Doug was very welcoming and explained that Warren would take us up to the campsite in the mountains, while he was going to collect some supply's and meet us there. 

The drive was beautiful, we passed awesome Queensland rainforest and cool farm land. We had previously sky dived over part of this forest, and rafted down the river through it as well so it was cool to be driving into the middle of it to camp. 

After helping unload everything and set up the camp, Doug had a chat with us to explain more of what he does. He and his wife, along with various other family members, ran a company called Ingan Tours; a great local tour company that encourages people to come and experience some aboriginal culture, like kayaking down their rivers and creeks, and forest walks to explain about fauna and flora (animals and plant life). 

We had a very frank and eye opening discussion with Doug on that hot August afternoon. He began by asking us what we know about aboriginal people. Truthfully we didn't know a lot, only what we'd found out for ourselves since being here. But we didn't want to offend Doug at any point by being ignorant or rude. 

He was great, and explained lots about his ancestors land, his tribe, the Jirrbal people, the differences between tribes and how the location of their land determines how they live. (The Jirrbal people are rainforest aboriginals who know how to live in forests, fish in streams and use nature to benefit their lives. Other tribes live in mountains, deserts, beaches and coast lines.) 

We also discussed the current situation many Australian Aboriginals find themselves in, something which is worth researching and finding out about before casting judgments. It's well documented, even in England, that some Aboriginals- who's ancestors thrived on this lands soil for thousands of years before the colonisation happened (also something worth being educated on)- are unable to find work, and have drink or drug problems. This is common in the cities we've visited, and there are mixed feelings from the white Australians about them. HOWEVER; we have been very lucky to meet many aboriginals off the beaten track, on their land and in their towns who are doing well, and eager to welcome us and chat with us. If I could, I would love to volunteer for Ingan Tours in Queensland, to learn more about these issues and watch their business grow (they have just started renovating their new headquarters near the train station- they will employ local young people from the community to work in the adjacent coffee shop). 

As a white English man, it was hard not to feel sad and a bit guilty during our conversation with Doug. What happened during the colonisation of the native people of this country was barbaric to say the least, and done mainly by high ranking British military (as well as convicts, and other Europeans). Doug was great though and assured us that he wanted to just educate us and hoped we took something from the discussion. (Which I obviously have as I'm banging on so much about it) 

I promise the rest of this post is more light hearted, but I wanted to convey the importance of this issue, and how this discussion helped me in my own way. It was probably a moment I will never forget. 

After this we took a walk with Warren, into the rainforest where he told us all about the plants and the trees and what different purposes they have to rainforest tribes (my favourite was the tree which is used to make boomerangs!) 

Chailey on our forest trek. 

He took us to a local creek where we had a lovely refreshing swim, and he showed me how to catch a fresh water prawn, which is smaller and darker then sea water prawns. We had to look under rocks, and when we found one, be very slow and quiet until the last moment when you throw your hands in the water to grab them! I managed this tricky manoeuvre on my 2nd attempt. Clearly pleased with my self I went over to show my wife. She was happy and asked "will it nip me if I put my fingers in his pincers?!" Warren replied "yes probably,but it won't hurt", so Chailey promptly stabbed one of her little fingers into the prawns pincers and got quite the shock when it clamped down on her. So much so, that she sent the poor little sod halfway into next week when she flung her hand away! I can imagine the little prawns conversation with his Mrs after he spent the next 4 hours travelling back to his original rock; 'I know you won't believe this but this bloody blonde girl threw me into the rainforest!'...

The poor flying prawn. 

Other highlights of the trip included our supper, which was local fish wrapped in leaves and cooked in a ground oven underneath the camp fire. Very delicious. Also, our night time wildlife drive. Chailey and I stood in the back of Dougs pick up truck with torches while we drove around looking for cool things. We saw an owl which was so cool. After we spotted it we stopped to watch it for a while and it was cool to see its head move round to meet our gaze. 

Chailey preparing her fish 

Warren preparing our supper in the traditional way 

Later on that drive we found many many snakes. Chailey, the only one with a fear of them, managed to spot most of the ones we found including one which was so big it could've used me as a toothbrush! (Probably an exaggeration). We also came across a dead brown snake, one of the worlds deadliest, which I was prompted to touch, and decided instead to pick it up by the tail and dangle it around. On the drive back Doug got out to confront a very angry and active baby brown snake which was in the road. I think he wanted to move it off the road, so naturally he beat it over the head with his stick and flicked it off into trees. I don't know why but seeing an aboriginal man knock out one the most deadliest snakes in the world and chuck it into the rainforest like its no problem, is one of my most vivid memories my mind has decided to take away from that night. 

The dead brown snake! 

We got back to camp around 11pm, and swiftly went to our tent. We survived from the bugs and wildlife in the night, although I did wake up with the tent unzipped and my legs hanging out, which was odd as we zipped it all up before I fell asleep. Hopefully I didn't get dragged off into forest by an army of angry prawns who wanted to know where their leader was, and brought back before I woke up. 

We survived the night!

The next day we had an awesome cooked breakfast, then we headed out on our merry way! It was a truely humbling, fun, eye opening night we spent in the mountains of that rainforest. Something that I will never forget. 

Warren, me, Chailey and Doug. 

Thanks for reading! I hope you have enjoyed Chailey's writings as much as I have, I'm already looking forward to her next one. Catch ya! 


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