Two cultures coming together
By RA Deputy CEO, Chris Kirby
In June this year, Chris was part of a group who were lucky enough to travel to the remote community of Bawaka in North East Arnhem Land. Met by traditional owner Djawa (Timmy) Burarrawanga and his family, the group spent two days living on Yolngu land and learning about the ways of the Yolngu people. But despite Bawaka’s obvious beauty, it was the people and the stories that were shared which had the most effect on Chris’ experience.
I could write about the sweeping white sand beaches, the laden coconut palms, the towering dunes from which the local lore was born or the adventurous, bumpy ride along a sand half-pipe track to get there – but that would be missing the point.
The point, for me – of visiting the remote Aboriginal homeland of Bawaka in North East Arnhem Land – was to experience how two cultures coming together actually makes both of them stronger, rather than having a diluting effect.
The Yolngu family who took us to their traditional lands have crafted an experience that leaves everyone enriched. The days we spent together were a conversation. We learned from each other through the building of relationships. Some relationships will last and some will be fleeting but all were respectful of each of our unique stories.
A respectful relationship is a two way thing. Each learns and draws strength from the other.
For me, reconciliation is all about (re)building respectful relationships between the First Peoples of Australia and those of us that are more recent arrivals. The Bawaka cultural tourism business is a great example of how these sorts of relationships pay dividends for all those involved.