Culture camps connect kids with country

18 March 2019

Held to bring elders and children together to share cultural knowledge and skills, culture camps are a highlight on the annual community calendar.

The camps give our future custodians the chance to spend time on country and to learn about their culture and people, places, plants and animals.

They’re also part of the Learning on Country program Mimal delivers with the local Bulman school, where students are taught about the land and its management.

In March, Mimal held a four-day culture camp at Mt Catt outstation for 26 children from Bulman and Weemol communities, where the kids spent time with our bush professors learning everything from spear making, to identifying animal tracks and finding bush food.

One of the activities involved elder Robert Redford teaching the group of boys the ancient art of making spears. The group learned to select a stick, peel the bark and cook it in the fire to make it strong and to set it straight.

When the spears were ready, elder Robert taught the kids a game he used to play as a child, where the children stand in line ready to spear the moving target thrown by adults.

Robert says this game was especially played when the burning season starts for fun and to see who had the good spear skills.

Meanwhile, the young girls spent time with elders Jill Curtis and Norrie Martin to collect jupi, a type of bush currant, before the fruit’s season ended.

“It was hard to find at first,” women ranger Sha-rea Moore says.

“But luckily the crows gave it away by calling out from the area.

“There were only a couple of trees left with jupi.”

The kids also learned about the ‘cheeky yam’ jalma.

“We learned to find it by looking for a special vine that grows around trees,” Sha-Rea says.

“The yam is hairy and can be different sizes.”

The camps are an opportunity for children to grow their friendships with one another and to spend evenings around a campfire, listening to stories of their ancestors.

Elder Robert Redford also taught the group about different animal tracks in the sand, including goanna, dingo, bush turkey, kangaroo and snake.

“We have fun supporting the elders and children to learn,” Sha-Rea says.

“We also learn a lot ourselves.”