Brandi & Randy at Gove/Yirrkala/Nhulunbuy

back to the beginning - Ginger Root Home

Next stop is in the far North East of Arnhem Land, on the Gove Peninsula. It can be confusing when we say where we went here, because there's lots of names in a small space. Gove is the name of the peninsula and the airport. Nhulunbuy is the town, mostly populated by whites who work at the bauxite mine and processing plant. Yirrkala is the main Aboriginal community, and there are several other smaller communities outside of it, such as the one we were in. Got it?
The story here is that we were invited by the famous yidaki (didgeridoo) maker, Djalu' Gurruwiwi, to come visit with him and document his process of instrument making. the trouble is that he operates on what is known as Aboriginal time, which means... well, time doesn't matter a lot. Which is great, except when you've got a plane to catch! So we showed up in his community only to find that he wasn't there, so we were welcomed in and allowed to stay until he showed up... which didn't happen for 8 days. So we really had the experience of showing up at the house of someone we didn't know, and just sleeping there and hanging out with them for over a week. We were just fortunate we left enough time, and were able to be there when Djalu' did show up. But we had a fantastic time bonding with the whole community in his absence, something we very well might not have done if everything had gone according to "plan." We're very greatful for the way it worked out, as we are for every unexpected twist and turn that happened on our trip.

IMPORTANT NOTE: These pictures are put up here with consent of the Aboriginal community and all those pictured. They do however wish that NO ONE do anything with these photos other than view them on this site. DO NOT COPY THEM to your computer, DO NOT PRINT THEM, and DO NOT do anything else you creative computer types might do with them, as it is against the wishes of those pictured.

The scene at the community... basically, they live in paradise. Unfortunately, I was shooting into the light, so this picture didn't turn out too well. But the houses are just in from the trees, in a single line. Beachfront property for everyone!

Okay, you can't see what I was trying to show in this picture... rain falling off the roof of the next house. Peter Brady assured us that there was absolutely no chance of rain while we were in this area. Well, it happened on the first day in this community!

Brandi on the beach, collecting shells for necklaces.

But the shells weren't empty. So, the poor guys get boiled, pulled out of their shell, and fed to the cat. This is our hostess Dhaanggal Gurruwiwi doing the honors.

A common morning scene from our little porch, the "RandaBrandaVeranda." Notice the boy at the right, throwing something at the Djambang (Tamarind) tree. He's trying to knock down the fruit, which is very citrusy and full of vitamin C. They use it a) as medicine, and b) for a drink that the kids love.

Some of the more beautiful sights in the community.

Some favorite pasttimes of Yolngu people... basketball...

And Elvis movies! Yikes!

Some of the local wildlife, a giant Saltwater Crocodile. Now this is one of the dangerous ones.

Fortunately, he was behind a fence.

Here's Brandi, boldly crocodile wrestling! Hey, why dontcha pick on something your own size!

More croc babies. You guessed it... these guys have glorious futures in the restaurant and luggage industries.

Sigh... 9 out of 10 sandflies recommend Randy!

A private concert. Some of the young people sang for us, with accompaniment on a Casio keyboard, now an integral part of Yolngu music, and a freshly cut yidaki.

The Yothu Yindi local recording studio. As far as I know, the band has never released anything recorded there. It's probably used for sketches and rehearsal, as well as education. It is called the local music center, and hosts concerts, and I think a few music classes from time to time.

Djalu's backyard, with the family gathering on the beach. It may come as a surprise to some that the Yolngu are for the most part Christian. Djalu' himself is the local preacher, who hosts services at night in his backyard, by the flourescent light of his homemade cross.

Next... BUSHFIRE!!!

all photos ©1999 by Randy Graves and Brandi Chase
Please do not copy them for your own use without permission!