I was told the desert was hot…

Well after what felt like the shortest break ever, it’s back to teaching as usual in Balgo. Or, as usual as teaching in a remote indigenous school is. Which actually is rather un-usual.

This term sees the Ketjungka Trade Training Centre hosting a nun that is teaching the women and girls the art of silk painting, a kitchen garden being built as well as a wood fired pizza oven and hopefully the opening of a weekly cafe. Well as least this is the plan so far.

Sister Susan has got the women creating some amazing silk paintings. Even with this medium the work that some of the women produce has a way of jumping off of the silk and telling its Turjkumpa (dreaming story). They paint scenes of water holes and bush food, gatherings for ceremony and animals that they hunt in Wirimanu (the Balgo area). We definitely have some talented artists in the community. Word has spread like wildfire that silks are being painted and Gadia (white people) are descending on the centre to snavel up a piece of local art.

The garden beds, which I cant wait to get built, as some fresh herbs to cook with in hospitality would be very novel, are slowly coming along. Last week we had all the boys working together on them. Now that was some fun teaching! Think 9 teenage boys all with power tools, hammers and saws… Fun times! We did get nearly 2 whole beds finished though and those lessons were the most engaged I have seen the boys nearly all year. Hopefully we’ll get more time to work as a big group to get these garden beds finished.

The cafe isn’t going quite so well though. There was a funeral last week and it’s turned cold this week so that means that students steer clear of the centre. Perhaps next week there will be less craziness (if thats possible) and we can make a start on the signs and menu.

This afternoon, on account of the hectic week and the fact that I will have all the boys on my own this arvo, as the mail plane with the other teacher is stuck with a dead battery, I’m going to bring my fire pit over and we’ll have a bonfire cook up. Should be fun!

Till next time



apparently its week 7…

Ok, so I’m not really sure where the last 6 weeks went… Please to forgive my slackness in the blogosphere!

However, the upside to my inability to post interesting tit bits of my time out here in the past month is that I have heaps to report on now! Some of my highlights, that I will tell you all about, and share some pics, have been getting to watch some pretty wicked storms roll in, roaming through the ever prickly spinifix in search for bush potatoes and native coconuts and getting to do some mad 4WDing with my new best friend, the Hilux. Oh, and how could I forget! Teaching some pretty special kids.

This is where I spend my days, inspiring (or at least trying to) the local youth to love good food.

This is where I spend my days, inspiring (or at least trying to) the local youth to love good food. Don’t let the green grass fool you, it has it’s own irrigation!

The teaching out here, I must admit is better than I expected. The kids, for the most part, are willing to give anything a go and on the whole are better behaved than my VCAL kids from last year. Literacy levels are a bit of a challenge, I think it will be a never ending task to get some of these kids up to a reading level where they could work and function in mainstream society. This point makes me so frustrated. I know that the students schooling has been very disrupted, but I think that it is a basic human right to be able to read and write! I think I’ll need to be looking into some sort of reading recovery program and somehow het it working in our Trade Centre.

This is taken from accross the oval of one of many storms rolling over the main street of Balgo.

This is taken from accross the oval of one of many storms rolling over the main street of Balgo.

The storms have been pretty spectacular to watch. Apparently it’s been quite a dry wet season, but I still think what I’ve seen have been like none I’ve seen in Victoria. These massive grey clouds roll over and fill the sky, the contrast between the red dirt and the dark clouds is stunning. It makes all the colours of the land pop. I’ve watched one good one rolling all around the area from the lookout. That was really cool just watching all the lighting striking in the distance and the clouds forming a wall in the distance.

For the long weekend I went up to Kununurra with a couple of the other new teachers. That was one of the best weekends I’ve had out here yet. We saw some stunning countryside, got the Landcruiser bogged very nicely in a giant mud puddle that looked totally innocent and ate the best gluten free pizza I’ve have in ages.

But alas I must go and tend to my garden… Or rather the styrofoam boxes of red dirt with seeds that aren’t growing. It’s hot as out here, they get just the right amount of water, I would have thought that I would be eating my own lettuce in a week!

Till later,



the first 2 days…

Wowzas. What can I say but things are certainly different out here. The trip out took a total of 2 days travel time, and that was by air! My first impressions of Balgo it’s self were, yep it’s hot and it kind of looks like a red sand version of some small Vietnamese town. Half naked kids running around and ┬álots of rubbish around the streets. I don’t think it really hit me how remote the place really is though until we were flying out in the little charter plane from Broome and looking down and the vast nothingness…

My little unit, apart from the funky smell and little bugs that like to crawl through my cutlery draw, it pretty good. The air cons work really well and I even have a bit of a view out the back windows. But none of my stuff has arrived, so it’s pretty sparse. I think once I Shani it up a bit it will be quite nice. I don’t know how a garden will go though. The dirt is like hard packed red gravelly cement. Maybe pots will be the way to go.

Yesterday I got to check out the school, not bad, but I do have to write on a chalk board on the Home Ec room, and the Trade Training Centre, which will be my domain. The TTC is amazing. It’s all bran new and has great facilities and a pretty good vibe to it. I think I will be having a lot of fun over there. The way that we will be running the program will be pretty cruzy and relaxed. Once I get started next week I’ll be looking at getting the Kitchen Garden started, which will be interesting.

Today a bunch of us teachers are going to tag along with the youth worker and a group of locals out to lake Gregory, apparently we’ll be getting “mudded up” so that we can swim in the lake without getting eaten. I’ll be taking my camera so photos will follow!

Till next time


the beginning…

Well as promised I have created a blog to show my nearest and dearest (and anyone else who cares to look) what I will be experiencing out in the desert.

I suppose I should start by giving you all more of an idea of exactly where I will be going. The name of the community is Balgo Hill and is roughly in the middle of Broome and Alice Springs, on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert, near the NT border.

For those of you keen for a google you can check out the school too, it’s called Luurnpa Catholic school. My official start date is the 31st of January, but I’ll be starting my journey out there on the 27th.

Till later