We have camped at the Old Ranger Station in Finke Gorge NP many times over the years. It’s always a delightful campsite, the immediate setting is beautiful and with so much inspiration close at hand: Palm Bend around the corner on the Finke, the enchanting little valley behind the camp, the Mparre walk, the spectacular Amphitheatre, one hardly needs to go into Palm Valley itself. On this camp we only ventured into the Valley once. We enjoyed it immensely, with people choosing different levels of walking routes to explore it, but no one felt the need to go back. Life in camp and nearby was just so rich! And the wonderful thing was we had this beautiful campsite all to ourselves… except when we had a very welcomel visit!
Conrad Ratara and his family have taken over the lease of this building and surrounding area and are planning to develop it as a cultural facility for tourists, sharing his unique knowledge of this place as its Senior Traditional Owner. We were his first clients and this was cause for a big celebration! We hosted 24 members of his extended family for a cook up around the fire while Conrad himself told stories in Arrente, in English and in song, to a spellbound audience. What an amazing night it was, a rare and authentic cross-cultural event. All our participants pitched in to make it happen, serving cups of tea and cooking for our guests, we’ll all remember this night!
Camp participants were a capable and loveable bunch of women, first timers all, which is rare these days. As always, there were common threads; an abiding sense of caring, awareness and spirituality plus a deep interest in the environment. People really appreciated Charlie’s encyclopaedic knowledge of the place and Anna’s ability to cater for dietary complexities. Some people were keen to learn new techniques from me, extending their creative repertoire, others just wanted to sit down on country alone and engage creatively in their way. I extended myself, experimenting with a participant who was keen to make leaf prints on paper, just like we do on silk. The results were pleasing as you will see. Some people produced an enormous amount of work and others will take the experience home with them to build on over time.
I would like to thank everyone for coming with us and Conrad and his family for having us camp at ‘his special place’. What a treat it was!
Photos below were al taken by me except when acknowledged otherwise, click on any photo to see the slideshow at full size.