Updated: Apr 10, 2019
Today was the big day. Bathe the World Foundation met with the traditional owners of Dalhousie Springs, who had driven from far, far away. The purpose was to seek permission to hold an international gathering here in 2020, to explain the vision of the event and what would happen, and ask how to do things the right way, to protect the land and its people and spirits. I was with the women. There were the elders, there were cultural protocol people to help, and ourselves, listening to what the elders wanted and how to manage the practicalities of so many people bathing in one day. There is so much I don't know about how to manage the social protocol, voice and words and politeness. I did my best.
Afterwards we drove to the proposed campsite at Three O'clock Creek, to look at the site with Greg Burgess the architect, meet up with the men, and share our mornings learnings, what the women wanted. On the drive Kay explained 'They don't build physical structures, but their social and spiritual structures are immensely complex and enduring'.
What stuck in my mind was one story on the noticeboards explaining culture, land and wildlife. There was a picture of a frog, the Witjira National Park's water-holding frog. It can live buried, without a drink, for years. The traditonal owners knew that if they were in need of water, they could dig up the frog, squeeze him gently, and droplets would appear for them.
Imagine needing water that much!
Its true, the creek is a dry bed most of the time. The Dalhousie Springs are mineralized, so not for drinking every day I suppose, and a long trek away.
The amazing thing is the complex structure required to know that a frog would be there to dig up. There were songs that map the spot exactly. There was awareness of rhythms, knowing what stars to look for to indicate when the frog was ready. Most of all, the politeness and restraint to not eat the frog on the spot, but leave him for other people, for next time you need him. There are thousands of such things, invisibly structured in to their culture, that allow them the miracle of life on this land for millennia. I imagined if all the anscestors suddenly re-appeared, re-filling the land with poeple. "They see the anscesters all the time. Its like that for them every day." Kay explained.
There is so much sophistication we uncivilized Westerners are complelty, irretrievably oblivious to.