Central Desert Program
The Biamunga Aboriginal cultural learning, community partnership and service programs mark their 10th anniversary in 2017. These community partnership experiences provide students with an opportunity to learn from the oldest continuous culture on earth through a process of Napartiji-Napartji: two-way learning. Students also have the opportunity on these trips to express their Catholic Mercy identity through a variety of service opportunities. We are so grateful to our partner communities and elders for helping us in our Biamunga journey to understanding.
by Elizabeth Kells, Year 10 (2017)
On 30 September, 15 Monte students and five staff members left Sydney for the experience of a lifetime in the Northern Territory through Monte’s Central Desert immersion program. We immersed ourselves in the Indigenous culture for a week as we learnt about and connected with both the land and Anangu, the traditional owners of Uluru.
Mutitjulu community is an Indigenous community close to Uluru that Monte has worked with for ten years. This was an extremely confronting yet memorable experience that has changed my perspective of our world forever. We were able to learn and hear about Anangu culture from the Elders themselves and this was an amazing experience. The Elders have faced so many challenges in their lives and the way that they respond to and overcome them every day is inspiring.
The Northern Territory is filled with culture and our connection with the beauty that is Uluru was amazing. We were not only able to learn about Uluru from a geological and tourist perspective but we were given the chance to learn about the Tjukurpa (Dreaming stories) behind the formations of the rock. Our exposure to art and land care were also great experiences. The art that we made and observed was amazing and the chance to learn about the stories behind the paintings from the artist was incredible. Moreover, the opportunity to make a difference to the land that the Indigenous treasure was amazing through the removal of the destructive introduced species Buffel Grass.
The trust and connections in the Mutitjulu community are overwhelming and showed me just how loving and compassionate the Indigenous way of life is. They look at each other as a whole rather than the individual and that is what makes the Aboriginal culture so special and admirable.
Caring for Water
by Christina Ha, Year 11 (2017)
As a part of my Central Desert experience, I had the amazing opportunity to work with Dr Jayne Brim Box, an aqua ecologist who works with the Anangu people. Through my experience, I learnt about the value of water sources in the desert and the importance of Jayne's work in helping to maintain them. One of the biggest issues that Anangu face in regards to water is wild camel. Whilst a native animal can visit a waterhole and drink 2L of water at once, a camel can come and drink 200L in one sitting, almost draining the whole waterhole.
One site we visited was a waterhole that had dried out after camels stampeded in, desperate for water. Camel bones were littered around the area and there was evidence of soil degradation. This first-hand exposure to the issues the Anangu people were facing not only taught me about the importance of water as a source of life, but also about the willingness of people to help maintain it. Jayne's passion for this issue was truly inspiring and I hope to visit her and the Central Desert sometime in the near future.