Monday, 29 January 2007


On Thursday the 18th January, as usual, I put the Artists Mail Bag on the Ngaanyatjarra Air Plane. This plane travels from Blackstone through to Kalgoorlie and then on Friday back to Alice Springs. the Mail Bag gets delivered to the Post Office on the following Monday. The Artists Mail bag should have been in the post office for sorting and mail distribution on Monday 22nd January.

No mail from that bag has been delivered. My assumption is that the mail bag has gone astray.

The bag is signed for by the pilot on the Ngaanyatjarra Air Plane, I have always assumed that it would then be signed out of the plane to the courier who takes it to the Post Office. It seems that the post office have a record of receiving 9Kilos of mail from the Ngaanyatjarra Lands on Monday 22nd January. No record of how many mail bags or who those mail bags belonged to.

Ngaanyatjarra Air are reticent in providing details of exactly what trail there might be on the mail bag .... I just can not believe this!!!!! this is the Royal Mail. I thought the service was meant to be secure and that adequate tracking would have been a given. I have simply acted in trust and faith that the mail would be secure. I am pretty pissed off.

This morning the EFTPOS machine died, I find the mail is missing and the multitudes from the sorry camp all need something.

No all bad thought, Mr. Forbes started a new work. It is pretty wild.

Saturday, 27 January 2007

Saturday afternoon, Jazz track on the Internet radio .... I am finding it difficult to motivate myself. Just not getting the things I need to, done.

It is very hot outside and I have kept the new plants watered however.

Tomorrow I will need to spend the day in the art centre, I am miles behind with various tasks and the sorry camp mob will be coming to sort some of the funeral requirements out.

Such a strange mix of cultures these funerals become. The family want to purchase a white coffin, no dirt to be thrown on it, but a huge bag of potpourri to be purchased for the grave site. This is difficult for me to understand. Still grief is very personal and if this eases the pain then so be it.

There has been a little mileage from our press release. The Austrailian had an article.

They have managed to identify Mr. Dawson, so, subject to paperwork, the funeral at Wingellina should be able to go ahead sometime soon. Still very difficult to accept that old man's death let alone imagine his body being so degrated that he is unrecognizable. No DNA records, no dental records .... this is not the way of things out here.

Lord knows how this will affect out Professional developement meetings and the Desart Regional Meeting. This is a most important meeting because of the discussions and investigation into the management processes of Irrunytju Governing Council.

With such sorry and pain from so many unexpected deaths, it is a big ask to expect the mob to focus on something as foreign to them as whitefella management issues. We would not push on with this if it were no so important. Very difficult for the mob to see the importance however.

I hope that the extreem heat will motivate the families to push on with the multitude of funerals, not only for our whitefella reasons but it is quite hard on the oldies and the children this sorry camp business. I am deaply concerned in particular for a few of the oldies.

I need to speak to the auditor on Monday, hopefully I can get the last of the information required from our accountant and he can finalize the audit. I am in depsperate need of the release of funds as well as compliance with ICC, prior to the ESub funding submissions, which close on the 17th February.

I will have a better idea of the submission when I finalize the 2nd quarter paperwork and see the reports generated.

Now that Ng Council look like they will come up with our training money for the Spinifex Paper I can see an end to some of the difficulties in sight. This has been a very diffucult 6 months.

Wednesday, 24 January 2007

What a day!

The year is shaping up to be a busy one. The press release went out today for the launch of Western Desert Mob, an initiative of Ngaanyatjarra Lands Art Centres. The opening exhibition has been a rush, we wanted to take advantage of the Buzz with the Perth Festival.

This is such a positive initiative and we have been fortunate to be bank rolled for the start by the WA Government. Yet there are groups on the Ngaanyatjarra Lands that can not see the plus with this activity, they seem threatened by it. Frustrations abound!!!!

Tomorrow is the McLean Family funeral at Mantamaru .... so I will cruise the community early, looking for likely oldies who want to attend and then head over...... these weeks have been sad ones.

After the McLean funeral the sorry camp will move to Blackstone, just in time for Australia Day.

Today Mr. Forbes painted a wonderful work and I will be able to get it down to Perth for the Western Desert Mob Opening. It is the story of the country where his daughter Ruby was born. I am really thrilled to have it for the Perth Festival. Mr. Forbes is our Senior and most important artist ... what a treat to have him sitting and working in my office.

Mr. Jackson's son-in-law, Richard, came to see me today. Richard is the Chairman of Ngaanyatjarra Governing Council. He has agreed to come with me to Perth for the Western Desert Mob launch. This is a great relief, I really want him to see the grandeur of the exhibition and meet the important people who are coming to share the event with us. It is being opened by the Deputy Premier. We live so remote and our day to day lives are so removed from the big smoke that it is difficult for community members to understand the significance and importance of the art that is generated here.

Sunday, 21 January 2007

On the edge of the Gibson Desert, it is Sunday morning. To avoid the heat, I have been out early to water my co-workers' garden and plant a few hedging plants in my yard.

I am now in another world. The Internet is a wonderful thing, I have coffee in the cup and Garrison Keillor on the Internet radio. Sounds of A Prairie Home Companion in St Louise fill my Donga while I get the humdrum weekly household tasks out of the way.

Blackstone is very quiet today as the mob are off in Sorry Camps at Wingellina and Jameson.

Soon the Sorry Camp will move here as there was more dreadful news, our own lovely old man, Mr. Jackson died last Thursday night. His daughter and son in law are driving up from Perth and when they arrive this community will move into sorry mode. How can a man of such beauty and life be dead.

I have been trying to get a history project on the go, funding is very difficult to come by. I revved up a few people last week, pointing out that our oldies a dying and their stories are dying with them. I have booked Thisbe to come for the month of April, I will need to get the money from somewhere. Thisbe has a great report with this mob and speaks the language. We will start recording the stories of those few who are still with us.

Saturday, 20 January 2007

January 6th, very hard to leave home in Adelaide and head back to the desert.
Tuesday 9th January in the art centre, the usual rush of artists wanting to know where I have been and did I bring any money back with me.

I need to take my co-worker to The Rock to fly out for her leave, I check in with the office to let them know we are leaving the community for a couple of days. There is a fax advising that two men are missing somewhere between Kalgoorlie and Tjuntjuntjarra. The office worker asks if that can be Mr. Dawson from Wingellina, yes I say, that is him, there should be no worry, he is a wonderful old bushman, he knows what he is doing.

An uneventful trip to Uluru, we meet the plane OK, I send some paintings off with bus-freight and drop in on Maruku with some art and to talk a little business.

I decided to come back by "The Middle Road" so I ring my Community Adviser and let him know my route, we agree that if I am not back by 8.00 pm he will come looking for me.

There is quite a bit of water on the last 30ks or so of the middle road and I am cutting it fine to be home on time. Happy I hit the Wingellina to Blackstone road, there are some of my mob broken down. I stop, they say the will be OK, need water and some of the group want a lift back. I hand over some of my water and pick up a few passengers.

My thoughts have been on Mr. Dawson, they tell me he has been found. I am greatly relieved. Tired, I sleep well that night.

Saturday afternoon, Jimmy comes to my donga looking for diesel. I am angry at the interruption at home on the weekend, about to give him a mouth full when he says he needs to get to Wingellina, "sorry camp", that old man he says.

Not Mr. Dawson, he is a good old bush man, I say. Jimmy simply says, too hot, they find him too late.

Mr Dawson and his nephew are both dead, found somewhere along the dog fence at the top of the Nullabor, 350 ks or so from Kalgoorlie. The loss is not measurable, the sorry too great.