This week, we hear from our new Yuendumu Director, Casey Natty and RSAS co-ordinator, Jonatan Covinich. We wish them all the best in their new endeavour with us at Wanta in Yuendumu and thank them for getting off to to a flying start with a trip out bush! The following excerpt is written by them.

“Each week in Yuendumu the Wanta team take kids out bush alongside elders to connect them with culture and to learn traditional practices of hunting and cooking in Walpiri language.

When we arrive on country on our bush trips the first thing we do is go and collect all the firewood to cook up our Kangaroo tails, potatoes and sweet potatoes. We then dig a hole where we will later bury all our food in the hot coals. It’s like our bush oven. Next we put the firewood in the hole and light it up, wait for the wood to burn down into hot coals. While we wait for the firewood to burn down the ladies teach the young girls how to prep the Kangaroo tails. The first thing we do is put the tails on the open flame to burn some of the hair and skin off the tails. We then take it out of the fire and scrape the burnt hairs off and repeat this process until there is no hairs left and just the skin.

The ladies then show the kids how to wrap the tail in foil, and by this time the firewood is all burnt down and ready for us to put the tails and potatoes that have been wrapped in foil into the hole. Before we throw it all in we take some of the coals out so we can place it on the top, we then throw the tails and potatoes in and put the hot coals on top that we put aside to cover it in some dirt. 

The next step is we get more firewood to burn on top of the hole we just filled up with our food and hot coals and burn the firewood to make it even hotter, so the tails and potatoes cook.

While we wait for our food to cook, we go exploring in the country, looking for lizards and hunting for witchetty grubs to eat for our entrees.

After about an hour or longer we come back to the bush oven and carefully dig up all the tails and potatoes. You must be careful not to burn yourself here because the foil is really hot. When we get everything out we cut it all up and share with everyone.

When the kids get the opportunity to head out onto the country away from the distractions of the community life, to be on humble land, to live how their ancestors once lived, the young people feel this and become humbled, you can physically see the change in the young people when they step out of the bus and feel the red-hot dirt beneath their feet.

This program is very important from our local staff’s perspective, this is the opportunity not only for the local Yapa staff to teach and instil cultural practices with the young people but also a great space for them to be able to talk with the young people about what’s happening in their life.

Our Director, Casey also has Aboriginal heritage and in his words he says “when you allow the spirit of the land to look inside you, This is where the real awakening happens, the land can awaken the soul of anyone, and the land can talk to the soul of any person and it asks, “Are you ready?”, “Are you ready to come?”, “Are you ready to sit?”, “Are you ready to talk?”, “Are you ready to ask questions?”, This allows you to truly free yourself. Every time I see the local people both young and old on country, I see this happening and sometimes without them realising, and it is beautiful to see.””

Written by Casey Natty and Jonatan Covinich.