Entry 1: Out of Our Comfort Zones

I have worked with many researchers over the years learning surveying and recording sites. Most of the research has not been from community perspective and has never really benefited the community.

My name is Leanne Mitchell and I am a Paakantji wimpatja from the Darling river in far west New South Wales. I am currently working in the Willandra Lakes World Heritage Area monitoring and conserving our cultural heritage for our future generations.

I have worked with many researchers over the years learning surveying and recording sites. Most of the research has not been from community perspective and has never really benefited the community.

I am hoping we get a welcome to country from the Traditional Owners to give me peace of mind that me and my family are safe to walk and learn from the mob while on their country. I would feel very uncomfortable going to any sites if community have not given the ok for me to do so.

Feeling really excited about working in the Barunga Community with the Jawoyn mob.

My aspirations for this week are that I get  to make connections with in the Barunga community and that I am able to work with them to help meet their needs to answer any research questions they may have.

Most of all, I aim to walk respectfully on their country.

Entry 2: Experiences and Challenges

I’ve enjoyed travelling in the car with Nana Wendy, as we drove from Barunga to Werenbun she would point out places and plants along the way, all knowledge being given with out many people realising it at the time.

My second blog was supposed to be done mid-week at Barunga, but I found it difficult to sit and write anything during my time there. Looking back, I think I was caught up in so many special moments that I didn’t want to have my head in a book and just wanted to be immersed in everything that the community wanted to share. It was interesting sitting around the fire and listening to the older women figure out peoples skin names as this would ultimately change the way we interacted with everyone from that point on. I’ve enjoyed travelling in the car with Nana Wendy, as we drove from Barunga to Werenbun she would point out places and plants along the way, all knowledge being given with out many people realising it at the time. I feel so grateful that the Elders have felt comfortable enough to open up and share their lives with us. Mid-week and I still hadn’t quite figured out what my community project was going to be, but I knew it would work out in the end. I didn’t want to push myself onto community just to get what I wanted so at that point was happy to wait until it was the right time.

Entry 3: Take Away Thoughts

I felt emotional knowing we had to leave because I’m sure the community have so many people come and go never to be seen again.

Well the end of the week came way to fast, and I felt absolutely honoured and privileged to have spent my time in the Barunga community. I did manage to get a skin irritation while there, but this meant I was able to go check out the community clinic, it was great to have a young, local indigenous nurse come out to speak to me and give me the medication I needed. I was lucky to go fishing for turtle with Nana Wendy’s grandchildren which reminded me of home, not fishing for turtle but just being with family getting a feed. Sharlene cooked the turtle and saved me some to taste as I had never had turtle before. I was also lucky to have a taste of sugar bag from the native bees that Elizabeth and Shaylene had found, it was the most delicious honey I have ever had. Over all the week was grounding for me but also opened my mind to a lot more with the skin systems and connection to all things. I felt emotional knowing we had to leave because I’m sure the community have so many people come and go never to be seen again. I am happy to say that it will not be my last visit to Barunga as I have made so many deep connections with the people. I do find myself thinking about young Paddy a lot and hope it is not to long before we see him again. Oh, and on the last night I was called over by Nan Rachel who wanted to share with me the story of collecting green plum. I knew if I waited something would be given to me worthy of writing my community report on. A Big thank you to Claire, Jacko and Jordan for opening the door to the Barunga community and sharing their connections with such great people. Thank you also to Isaac and Jasmine for guiding us in the right way of doing things during our stay.