It’s been 90 days in my new home up north. A milestone I suppose. Only three months ago, (around where I left off in my last post) I was sitting in a tent, unemployed and homeless. Okay that sounds dramatic, I was simply doing some holiday camping with my family, but I was floating around in not only ‘between jobs’ land but in a kind of post-graduating-living-overseas-volunteering-spending-all-my-savings land. If I let it occupy my mind for too long at a time it did become a little bit overwhelming. Nonetheless I had a plan up my sleeve, I was moving up north, about as north as you can get in Australia, to meet up with Mitch who had scored an incredible work opportunity while I was living overseas. Plans were made to give it a go and check in after a year to see where the happiness-meter was sitting.
90 days later, here I am with a few new milestones under my belt:
- got a full time (paid) job
- bought a manual car
- can drive manual car convincingly
- started learning Yolŋu Matha
- got a credit card
- stepped on a cane toad
If that list doesn’t give it away, I am now living in North East Arnhem Land.
I started this blog as a bit of an interesting way of documenting my time living overseas that both myself and others from home could interact with. It also got me thinking about the fact that I have always tried to journal, travels and otherwise, with pretty inconsistent results. I set this blog in motion in hopes that it would replace and solve that problem. I had no idea I would soon be moving almost just as far away from home again, so the offer still stands that you can follow my journey from afar right here.
A blog about life in N.E.A.L:
I’ve been incredibly lucky to land into a role at the wonderful local art centre, another non-for-profit social enterprise that speaks to my heart. What began as an interest in volunteering while I worked my new life out, quickly became my job and a welcoming home I now walk into each morning.
I work alongside Yolŋu people, the traditional landowners of the area, both staff and artists. They teach me as much as my memory can handle each day about country, story, language and culture. Many I laugh with, some I can’t fully communicate with, but all with whom I share a warm smile. In many ways I am reminded of my old life and work in Cambodia. Language barriers, cultural differences, but an overall shared understanding and communication shown through love.
Mitch’s new work has also opened up a world of opportunities and learning for him. His job requires him to fly in an impossibly tiny plane to Galiwin’ku (Elcho Island) twice a week. He too works with Yolŋu in their community, building a new health clinic, housing etc. Sometimes the odd crocodile wanders onto the build site. Luckily for me, I only have the odd dog wander into the art centre, loyally seeking out the artist who owns it.
When we’re not hanging out with crocs and dogs we explore the many amazing places on offer via 4×4. There’s beautiful beaches, impressive red ochre cliffs and inland creeks aplenty. The first thing to do when arriving in N.E.A.L. is to get your permits to visit traditional owners’ land. With these in hand, we have explored as far as the torn up wet-season roads have allowed us, with more on the bucket list for the fast approaching dry season.
The beaches are postcard perfect, with flora and fauna that are all still very new and wonderful to me as an ex South Aussie. Sometimes I am fortunate enough to explore in the company of Yolŋu friends, who expertly pluck a crab from beneath the sand for bait and oysters from the roots of mangroves for a snack. Tea is boiled in a billy and damper baked over coals, a ritual that makes me feel close to my childhood. When the wet season weather doesn’t want us to explore we sit on a deck or balcony and watch the rain cascade in waterfalls from the roof, all in the comfort of a singlet and shorts.
After 90 days this place is definitely feeling like home. There’s a certain pull you get from the beautiful people, country and stories you learn along the way. I’ve always felt most myself when in nature, and here nature is queen. Plus any place with the non-existence of winter will always win me over. I’m so grateful to be welcomed to such a special place that prior to now, I knew very little about. It’s a place that no blog post could ever truly describe. You’ll just have to come visit!
See you on the road.