Last week, nine high school girls were lucky enough to be invited on a “Back on Country” trip to Malukalani as part of the Kunpulu Junior Ranger programme. This programme forms a fantastic link between the Gurindji Rangers, Kalkaringi School, and Wanta, offering high school students’ insight and experience into the role and knowledge of the Rangers, and their impact in community.

After some serious four-wheel driving out bush, we set up camp at an idyllic spot right next to the river – the Rangers explained how the springs slightly further upstream were actually the source of the water that feeds Wattie Creek where we go for a regular swim in community!

The three-day trip consisted of plenty of fishing, swimming, uno, bush walking, bird spotting, hair braiding, and storytelling. The Junior Rangers learnt from the best in listening for, seeing, and identifying bird species, taking surveys, and discovering their scientific names with the Rangers.

We were incredibly lucky to have some incredible food cooked for us, including oxtail and kidney soup, roo tail with baked bush potatoes, and even a delicious spaghetti Bolognese! The Junior Rangers particularly enjoyed cooking up the turtles and fish they had caught, which were happily shared and devoured over a few games of uno under torch light.

The girls loved asking Yamba and Rainbow (two of the rangers) in particular to tell them stories of the demons and old men that roamed these parts of the land. They were very firm in telling Ellie to tie her long, blonde hair up to keep her safe from them too! The stories certainly spooked a couple of girls as they cosied up to share swags for the nights!

A huge thank you to the traditional owners of the land for granting us permission to go to Malukalani, the Rangers for their expertise, advice, and stories (and great feeds!), and Steve (Kalkaringi School) and Ellie (Kalkaringi Wanta Director) without which the coordination and logistics of this trip would not have been possible. Everyone is looking forward to a classroom session with the Rangers this coming week, to summarise and reflect on the trip!

Written by Ellie Simmons, Director Kalkaringi Sports Academy.