A couple days after arriving in Aurukun I was invited by the school teachers to present to the kids on the Olympics. I did two presentations on Friday morning, one to a small group of teenagers, one to a big group of kids. Although the teenagers were quite shy and didn’t engage much, it was so beautiful to see their faces light up as I showed different pictures and videos, and wonderful to experience holding their undivided attention for the 30 minute presentation. The younger kids were a completely different ball game! They had questions upon questions, giggled at the video of me boxing in my toggs (they wear bordies and singlets when they swim), and got really excited to get in a group photo. One boy down the back said his uncle is Patrick Johnson. Clearly I didn’t need to teach him anything about the Olympics!
We then headed off on a drive to Weipa, which meant 2 hours of 4-wheel driving on a red dirt road each way. It was awesome! We saw a brumby on the way back, and had wonderful chats. We were dropping off Scott the beekeeper so he could get back to NSW, and were picking up Aurukunian George’s grandson from the airport. While waiting at the airport Gen and I asked George about totems, as we were both very interested to learn more. We discovered that totems (this is specific to Aurukun, I don’t know if it applies elsewhere also) are passed down through the father, unless paternity is in question. George said one of his totems is fire, and he has two, but his young grandson has only one: the rainbow. He personally didn’t know how totems initially came about, so I’m still on the hunt for more information.
Sunday meant a wonderful day out fishing in the most pristine and picturesque environment possible: white sandy beaches,amazing aqua water, deep blue sky, lush green foliage, and bright red rock cliffs. It was magical! There was SO much sea life present in the Cape of Carpentaria also. We saw dolphins, turtles, sharks, loads of fish, and some giant blue fish that half jumped out of the water in the distance. We only kept what we could eat, and feasted that night on a gift of fresh fish from the days catch.
Monday meant I was leaving Aurukun, and my trip back to Cairns was slightly, ummm, interesting? Ok, maybe that’s an understatement. For starters, check-in went something like this…
Steve the check in man, who I’ve never met or seen before: “Michelle is it?”
Michelle: “Yes”, while thinking “How the hell did you know that?!”
Steve: “Weigh the bag. 12kg. Ok, here’s your ticket.”
Michelle – starting gobsmacked at the handwritten ticket: “Thanks”.
I later found out that Steve also doubles as a councillor, and hence knew who I was because I was the only person he didn’t know! There is no security in Aurukun airport, understandably given the airport is really only a little room and a covered concrete space. Baggage claim is a trolley where everyone just claims their own bag, hopefully. I liked it, back to basics.
However… just as our little plane got to the back of the runway ready to take off things got really interesting. One of the ladies down the back of the plane shouted out that the wing was leaking. And it was! It was leaking hydraulic fluid from a busted tube, which could have meant the landing gear wouldn’t have engaged when we went to land in Cairns. Not good! We were all told to head home and wait, and Steve the check in man would drive around to let up know as things developed. What service! As it turned out we spent the next three hours waiting for a new plane to arrive, which finally got off just in time to fly through lightening and bounce all over the place. Needless to say all aboard were very pleased to land safely in Cairns. Over a hundred locals came to wave us off, giving us the famous Aurukun farewell.
I can’t wait for my next opportunity to go to Aurukun. I’ve told everyone that I’ll be back once they get the pool sorted and filled, and will happily teach the kids swimming lessons. Gen asked one of the boys if he thought he could beat me in a race. Fairly he said no, but he was keen for a race if he got a head start! Bring it! I can’t wait J