The days are all blending into one. Who can tell what day of the week it is anymore, and does it really matter? A lot has happened over that last few weeks, let me fill you in. Maruku has unfortunately lost more staff with the closing of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (which has just been extended to June 18th 2020), the NT government has started forced isolation for anyone who crosses the state line and charging $2500 per person for this isolation period and in a rare speech the Queen, bless her cotton socks, thanked all those working in essential roles and those staying in their homes. It has been another tough week on everyone around the globe.
Keeping community strong
But! over the last 2 weeks Maruku has started to bustle again. We were able to facilitate a beautiful morning with 4 of the senior ladies in Mutitjulu community. They spent the morning with a tjungari & tjiwa (the old time mortar and pestle) grinding up irmangka irmangka (bush medicine). These women are very aware of the current state of the world and were reminding me every chance they could, saying “kungka, too close”. It was a magical thing to watch these women whip up this balm, the same way their mothers, grandmothers and ancestors alike would have done. To finish, the women blessed the medicine with a prayer, then filled their bags and pockets with the liquid gold. We handed the remaining medicine out to the community the day after, all 150 tubs.
It was a quiet and uncertain weekend as most have been lately. There is still no sign of Covid-19 within the community which is great news! And under 30 cases in the territory so far.
On Tuesday we were contacted by the Mutitjulu Community’s Night Patrol to help with the school holiday program. What a great opportunity for Maruku and the community! My head instantly starting buzzing with ideas for art workshops, wood carving and a mini community Olympics! The next day the government announced bans on parks, children’s play grounds and gatherings of more than 2 people from different family groups. Crushed, once again. Finding a way to keep families entertained without gathering in public spaces would never be easy… except in the central deserts! While the Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park is closed, Anangu have the park to themselves for the first time in 70+ years! Why not make the most of it!
Every day for the next 2 weeks Maruku has been given permission to take two families in two different vehicles for picnics in the park and possibly to family homelands. Our first trip was yesterday and it was a HUGE success. We sent our Punuman and Punuwoman on the first picnic. Trading in their axes and clipboards for damper and kangaroo tails. The Wilson and Taylor families were amongst the first to go. They jumped into the troopie bringing everything they had in arms reach, including an electric keyboard for the youngest Trismay. Upon arrival at the picnic spot half the mob grab shovels and headed bush in search of maku (witchetty grubs) while the other half got onto making a fire. Verna quickly whips up a damper like a pro. Meanwhile the others come back unsuccessful in the hunt for maku. They can’t all be winners.
But what is better than warm damper with homemade orange marmalade?
Check out our Facebook and Instagram page for a video of the Walkabout women singing their blessings and more pictures of our picnic trips.