I arrived in the Goldfields. I am very jetlagged. The town Leonora is quite small with around 650 inhabitants. It was much colder than normal for this time of year and I was glad I brought my coat. When I arrived at my accommodation it was clear that no one had been staying there for a while. There were mice droppings around and in the microwave an old baby bottle in which milk was turning into a new life form. I guess I didn’t know what to expect, and for sure I did not expect luxury. But my stay in the flat only lasted for a few hours as a pipe in the adjacent kindergarten had burst and flooded the place, which meant there wouldn’t have been any running water for one or more weeks.
After one night with not much sleep, I strolled over to the ‘living’ museum just outside town, an early mining settlement called Gwalia, now a heritage ghost town. After making acquaintance with the Shire and its staff I was offered to stay with one of their employees who had a spare room.
To get me familiar with the youths and their activities, my Aboriginal hosts took me straight to run a workshop in a youth club. Being out in the sticks, the material for the planned tie dye workshop hadn’t turned up. So with 8 kids hanging around I went to the local shop and purchased vinegar, red cabbage, red onion and turmeric for making our own dye. It worked a treat and the kids ended up tasting cabbage and later using its colour to dye their t-shirts. Working with the children allowed me to make acquaintance with some their parents. And the other day a family of five took me out for a ride to see some of the closed goldmines and some creeks. I learned a lot from their knowledge of their surroundings such as how to find gold and differentiate between fool’s gold, real gold, silver and platinum. One of the old open pits has had a lot of ground water seeping up through it and the kids told me they go swimming there.
Over the next few weeks I hope to do a few more workshops and get to know the whole community, and hopefully get to ‘go bush’, as they call it. I want to make myself aware of my Aboriginal host family’s traditions, the Ngalia language and their embodied relation to the surrounding landscape. We have discussed developing a cultural exchange to enhance awareness of the peripheral and its relation to mining, production, technology and at the same time try and keep the sacred secret and nurture respect for the landscape and first nation people. I know I have a lot to learn.
Yesterday I went to the outback races where dressed up ladies and gambling took place amongst the red dirt. Today my house host is doing a barbeque with some of the locals. I am cooking pumpkin. Tomorrow I will order a bunch of pumpkins for a carving workshop with the youth group. And after that I will start my own research, I am planning to collect sounds from different minerals and stones using special audio equipment that can pick up frequencies from geological materials