MDFF 14 November 2015

Hi friends,

Often when asked how long I’ve lived in Yuendumu and I answer 43 years, I get a surprised reaction. I detect thought bubbles “he must be fucking mad”, or occasionally “how interesting”.

The fact that all several hundred people over 44 years old that have lived here all their lives can beat that, isn’t part of the thought process. The ‘them and us’ paradigm kicks in and indeed there are no white-fellows (other than Wendy) that have been here that long.

The comment “you must like it here” crops up fairly frequently, to which I invariably answer “Yes I do” and depending on who asks it and how it is asked and what mood I’m in, I may expand on that.

One of Yuendumu’s main attractions to Wendy and I is that you get to meet and interact with many interesting and worthwhile people, not least the Warlpiri locals.

One such interesting and worthwhile person was Japanangka Langdon whose funeral is being held in Yuendumu next Saturday.  Perry died in Darwin hours after being locked up under the NT’s “paperless” arrest laws. In 1975 Japanangka worked at Yuendumu School, in the heady optimistic days when so called ‘bilingual education’ had been first introduced to Yuendumu.  An example of his work :

Story by Robin Japanangka Granites.
Illustrated by Perry Japanangka Langdon.

On request I’ll send you a copy of the 18 page booklet from CDU’s ‘Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages’ which includes 9 remarkable drawings by the then 18 year old Perry (2MB)

Other such interesting and worthwhile persons were Richard and Carolyn Green. Richard, Carolyn and their filmmaker friend John Davis died in a helicopter crash in the Watagans National Park (NSW) last Saturday.

Richard and Carolyn first refuelled their helicopter in Yuendumu in 2002. There were to be twelve subsequent visits (one by road). On all occasions Richard and Carolyn showed that admirable quality which is expressed in colloquial Australian as “they had no tickets on themselves”. Curious children and others that came to look at their helicopter were greeted with warmth and friendship. Richard and Carolyn were both interesting and interested.

On one occasion Carolyn fell in love with a small dog at Yuendumu airstrip. Subsequently through Warlukurlangu Artists adoption of Millie was arranged.

Richard and Carolyn were Dispatchees and provided feedback on several occasions. Their commitment to the environment prompted Richard to extract and comment on a paragraph from a Dispatch that he found to his liking:

“When those in authority can convincingly assert that we definitely should do nothing to try and save the planet lest it “hurt the economy”, and large section of the public fail to see that the Emperor has no clothes and lives in a house of cards, the inmates are in charge of the asylum. Like MH370, the plot is lost, but unlike MH370 there is no serious effort to find it.

The cart is firmly placed in front of the horse, and the road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions”

Richard and Carolyn never lost the plot.

Richard and Carolyn quickly grasped the extent of the grave injustice that is the forced assimilation and denial of rights affecting Aboriginal Australia.

They were good people, and will be missed by the many people they ‘touched’ on their epic journeys through remote and wild Australia.

Their legacy is an incredibly beautiful collection of photographs. and the book “Remote and Wild”

(Below is) an example of his work. A photo taken in the Yarunganyi Hills just out of Yuendumu in 2010.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne!

Chorus.-For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pou’d the gowans fine;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
Sin’ auld lang syne.

See ya’s
Yarrunganyi sharp rocks e (2)