Monday, May 3, 2010
Camping in the East Kimberley
There's been dust, dirt, blisters and no bathrooms.
There's been camp food.
There's been driving in a manual 4WD.
There's been mild sunburn, despite every best effort to keep the sun off every square inch of my lily-white skin.
There's been Aboriginal communities both closed (no outsiders allowed) and open (visitors welcome, but check at reception first).
There's even been far horizons, ragged mountain ranges and drought, but no flooding rains as yet.
And I've survived. I'm very proud.
If you ever have the chance to go camping in the East Kimberley, I enthusiastically recommend it; and coming from me; the non-camper, that's one hell of a recommendation.
The scenery is flabbergasting and I cannot possibly do it justice here. The isolation is wonderful, and the night sky is like you have never seen it before. Never.
The ten of us - there are secondees here from KPMG, Leighton Holdings, Wesfarmers and my organisation - were lucky enough to be accompanied on the trip by Brenda Garstone, a local Aboriginal woman with a degree in anthropology and a unique perspective on Aboriginality and contemporary Aboriginal affairs. Her involvement in the trip gave the experience a whole new level of meaning, and my understanding of the historical context and cultural impact of white settlement on Aboriginal Australians is now much deeper and richer thanks to her.
The time together really gave us all a chance to discuss and explore some of the issues we might well face as part of our secondments, which started officially today. And learning about them in the true-to-life setting made them more palpable, certainly for me, though I am sure each of us had our own different response to the discussions and tutorials.
There's one thing for sure though, and it's that I have just completed an experience which will take me some time to work through. I'll keep you posted as I do.