Just a little longer

In our original plans we were to leave Alice today and head to Darwin for Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair next weekend. Then home. But we’re not ready to end this magical mystery tour yet – so we’ve extended our lease for 5 weeks. Will fly home on Tuesday 8th Sept after Desert Mob. That still isn’t enough time to do all we want to do, but it will be great to be home with family and friends. Too much is happening in our absence. Tyler and Mia are growing so fast.

Ana and Mia (18 months)
a tyler 1

Em got married. Gulp. Sud was able to get a week away from his busy work schedule to come to Sydney so they took the opportunity to get married to start the 2 year process of applying for residency. It’s great to see them both so happy. We were disappointed not to be able to be there, but they’ve promised to have two weddings next year for friends and family to celebrate with them, one in Sydney and one on India. Maybe we need to start looking for saris?

Em and Sud
wedding 2
Andrew, Sud and Kevin

wedding 4

We’re also delighted to hear that Daf’s sister-in-law, Emily Hewson (widow of brother Bob), has become engaged to Bruce, a lovely man she met at her church in Maryborough. Emily and the kids, Ruth and Lawrence, are coming to Sydney for a visit soon after we get home.

Emily, Bruce and Lawrence. Ruth is the photographer
Emily, Bruce and Lawrence. Ruth is the photographer

This is supposed to be a travel blog but all we’ve done is tell you about what’s happening in our absence. So what’s been happening in Alice? It was great to be here for Naidoc week. We went in the parade through the Mall to the fair at the park and joined the Naidoc bbq at Purple House

Naidoc week fair, next to the Todd
Naidoc week fair, next to the Todd
Jude and Peter Paul Wallace, the Arrente elder who opened the Naidoc celebrations
Jude and Peter Paul Wallace, the Arrente elder who opened the Naidoc celebrations
Purple House BBQ
Naidoc week bbq at Purple House

We were also lucky to be part of the painting project at Purple House. It was led by Max Levi Frieder of The Artolution. He travels around the world doing art projects in communities to build pride and connection. Young people came in from bush communities to help with painting the side wall of Purple House. We all got involved over the 5 days of the project. Great fun.

purple paint cans for purple house

purple daf painting
Daf pained a T and M (they look like animal tracks) into a red ball. A surprise for Tyler and Mia when they come to visit Alice with us one day. It’s on the bottom left corner of the photos of the full wall.

purple tm on purple house wall

purple painting

purple max and painter purple max and kids

purple full painting

We’ve also been busy with crafts.

craft baskets 1
Basket weaving
Basket weaving in the sun. First a beanie, now a basket, what next Jude?
craft quilt 1
The start of a quilt in the colours of the desert
dyeing wool
Wool “blanks” (skeins of wool that have been loose machine knitted as a base) that have been hand dyed. When they are dry we unravel them and roll into balls for knitting.
craft painted wool
Some squares we’ved knitted from our own hand dyeing . We’ll have to google crocheting to remember how to put them together (or put in a “help” call to Joyce)

We had a wonderful couple of days at Papunya (3 hours drive west from Alice). The plan was to continue on to Yuendemu, but Daf started having dizzy spells so we returned to Alice to get it checked (it’s called benign positional vertigo – nothing serious but very disruptive of everyday activities). We hope to have a few days in Yuendemu after we get back from Darwin.

pap road train
The road from Stuart Highway towards Yuendumu is sealed. But only for the width of a big road train. When you see one coming you get way way way off the road!
papuya sigh
At the turn off to Papunya, the road changes to red dirt.
papunya road
The road to Papunya
papunya road 3
The Papunya road
papunya road 2
Wildflowers on the road to Papunya
papunya road 5
Distant mountains (West Macs) on the Papunya road
pap pot cleaning front
Cleaning paint pots at PapunyaTjupi art centre
pap Isobel Major and toasties
Isobel Major teaching Daf how to make dozens of ham and cheese toasties
pap Daf and Stephanie 2
Daf with Stephanie and Jakamara
Stephanie did a sketch on paper. We loved it so much we commissioned her to paint it on canvas. Here’s the progress after her first hour of painting.
pap artists at work 2
Many of the artists like to sit in the sun to paint at Papunya
pap artists at work 1
Narlie and Maureen
pap Maureen Poulson
Maureen Poulson with her fabulous painting. We wanted it but some tourists came through and bought it before we could grab it.
Papunya. Everywhere in town you can see the mountain range. It changes in colour all day long. This was taken mid morning.

One of the treats at Papunya was finding Ininti trees and collecting our own seeds. Jude has contracted with some local Aboriginal women to make lots of key chains with seeds and nuts. Now they can use some of the seeds we collected in their designs.

ininti jude ininit seeds1
Jude collecting ininti seeds on the edge of Papunya township.
ininti seeds
Ininti seeds and a pod of seeds.
ininti key rings
The first batch of keyring. Over a hundred more still being made.

Daf’s sister, Joyce, and some of her friends have been busy making colourful knee rugs for the people at Purple House. They’ve sent 25 rugs within the last month! Here are some of the very happy recipients.

rugs 1 rugs 2

rugs 4rugs 3rugs 2rugs 1

One of the rugs was given to Daisy Nakamara Leura. Daisy’s husband, Tim Leura, was one of the original Papunya artists and Daisy used to help him with his paintings. One of her paintings is the image for Mulapa.

Daisy logo
“My Country”. Painting by Daisy Nakamara Leura. Logo for Mulapa Aboriginal Art (with permission and royalties)

Daisy has been paintings at the art centre at Papunya nearly every day for years and years. We first met her on our trip to Papunya in 2010.

Daisy in 2011 when we visited Papunya again with Jeanette and Julia.
daisy feb 14 digging for tjupi
Last year Daisy went on a bush trip digging for tjupi (honey ants)
daisy with honey ants
Daisy’s honeyants in a coolamon
daisy martha digging for tjupi
Martha digging for honey ants. It’s hard slow, patient work.

Daisy is in hospital in Alice Springs with Parkinsons and they’ve decided she’s not well enough to return to Papunya. It’s heartbreaking to hear her begging to go home to Papunya. She’ll have to end her days alone in a nursing home, away from country (on other’s country) and away from family. This is a common problem in the centre. There aren’t enough facilities in the communities to care for sick or aged people. There’s good medical care in Alice, but not enough support services to care for their emotional/social needs. If Daisy was a renal patient from Kintore she’d have wonderful care from Purple House in Alice and could be taken by the Purple House bus back to country for visits. She might even be able to return to country and have her medical care there. But there is no equivalent to Purple House for other medical problems. We feel sad and powerless. But so happy to be able to give her one of Joyce’s rugs.

daisy and rug

This weekend is Gay Pride Carnivale (Alice’s Mardi Gras). Parties and films and a forum and a fair. All great fun, although rather less busy than we’re used to at Mardi Gras.

pride carnivale
Pride Carnivale fair day
Pride film night
Pride film festival at Totem Theatre next to Todd river. This photo was taken about 5 mins before advertised starting time.  We are slow to learn that “Alice time” means 30-45 mins after advertised time. It was nice to have a drink in the courtyard while we waited for the gay community to turn up.
pride star lady and cops 2
Sister girls and cops celebrating Pride at Fair Day. This is a significant photo because there has been lots of tension between some of the lesbian/sister girl community and the police.  Our friend Mel, a cop and a lesbian, is trying to do something to heal the rift.

One place we love to visit is Kathleen Buzzacott’s studio out near Simpson’s Gap. Kathleen makes gorgeous jewellery and she’s painted some boards for us to hang in the courtyard.


kathleen earrings
Earrings by Kathleen Buzzacott
kathleens' boards
Lacquered boards by Kathleen for the shed in our courtyard

We’ve also done some “work”. Jude looked after an Aboriginal gallery for a friend for a couple of days and Daf did a reflective practice workshop. There’s a great community of very reflective practitioners in Alice. Daf has learnt tons from them and it’s all helping to fine-tune her ideas for the book and workshops.

Lots of fun with cooking and eating with friends. Sometimes we even do the cooking. We’re so glad we brought our thermomix with us. Will have to take her as hand luggage when we fly home.

karl and daf thermie
Daf showing Karl how to use the thermomix.

We’ve shown a photo of Karl in a previous blog, but never of his partner Ric.  So Ric posed for us in their gallery – Yubu Napa.

Ric modelling a classy beanie.

Our friends Maree and Shaz have a fabulous fire pit in their garden. Last night Daf had a go at her first damper. It looked great in the fire, but got burnt to bits. More practice needed! Although Kevin, Karl and Ric’s dog, really enjoyed it.

damper on fire burnt damper

One more blog in 5 weeks (after Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair and Henley on Todd and Alice Festival and Desert Song and Desert Mob and lots of other little pleasures). Then we’ll be home and having a social whirl as we try to catch up with you all.


2 thoughts on “Just a little longer

  1. You girls are just having the most amazing time immersed totally in community life. Any wonder you want to stay longer. Keep enjoying.

    Bev Kilpatrick



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