Punalulu School, Frog Hollow – 25th October 2018

Our word of the day in gija is…..

Kangaroo – jiyirriny

Today it is all about hanging around the Frog Hollow Community with the kids at school.

This is the sign off Highway 1 which you have to be quick to catch. Look closely and you will see that it is an old car bonnet. Apparently, there is a new sign being made to replace this rather classic one which we both feel is much more in keeping with the community. A big flash fancy sign would be inappropriate.

As mentioned above, we are off Highway 1, the main road that circumnavigates Australia and which still has a lot of one lane bridges up in this area.

They really are quite the hazard and when you have a four trailer road train barrelling towards you, it is pretty easy to guess who is going to get out of the way. There are heaps of obstacles to avoid up here such as the kangaroos which seem to have a death wish as you can’t go two kilometres without passing one splattered across the road. One only hopes that the people that hit them stop and check that there are no joeys in the pouch. This is what you are meant to do but something says the road trains don’t bother stopping to check. We have seen at least twenty roos around the place but none have stood still long enough for us to get a photo of them. They all appear to be camera shy.

The other large object of course is the cattle. These cows are Brahman and imported from India and left to roam in the outback until ready to be sent overseas as live stock. We found this guy munching on one of Frasers sisters plants just outside the bedroom window. They are literally everywhere.

Found out some more info on the Boab tree if you are interesting in reading about it.

Boba trees are Endemic to Australia and occur in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, and east into the Northern Territory. It is the only boab to occur in Australia, the others being native to Madagascar (six species) and mainland Africa and the Arabian Peninsula (two species). Boab ranges from 5 to 15 metres in height, usually between 9 and 12 metres, with a broad bottle-shaped trunk. Its trunk base may be extremely large; trunks with a diameter of over five metres have been recorded.

The plant has a wide variety of uses; most parts are edible and it is the source of a number of materials. Its medicinal products and the ability to store water through dry seasons has been exploited. Indigenous Australians obtained water from hollows in the tree, and used the white powder that fills the seed pods as a food. Decorative paintings or carvings were sometimes made on the outer surface of the fruit. The leaves were used medicinally. The leaves may see a future use prepared as food, due to their high iron content.

Another little bit of interesting info we wanted to share was regarding the stations in these areas. Areas are indeed vast and to give you an idea of how big these stations are up in the Kimberley’s, you are looking at three million acres. There are countries smaller than that.

Onto our day with the kids. School starts at 8.30am and the kids play cricket until the two school buses arrive from the community of Warmun which is 35k up the road.

They are great little cricket players but their passion is Australian Rules Football. One of their community boys plays for the Carlton Footy Club based in Melbourne and only last weekend he dropped in to say hi to his family and muck around with the kids. Girls and boys both play AFL and aboriginals in particular have a great gift for the game.

We were invited to show each of the four classrooms a few slides of Calgary and explain a little bit about Canada. It really is too difficult for these kids to get their heads around but they loved the pictures of the snow and the Canadian wildlife.

That took from 9.00am until 11.30am and then the kids were treated to pancakes with maple syrup but only in small amounts.

There is a huge issue with Aboriginal children and their intake of sugar. Dental cavities are a gimme as is diabetes. The synergies between the problems faced by the First Nations and Inuit of Canada is identical to the Aboriginals in Australia. Petrol sniffing, alcohol abuse, suicide, drugs, foetal infant syndrome, violence, no jobs and well you get the story.

This is a photo of Miss Amanda’s class. The women are called Miss and the men are called Sir. Very quaint to hear them.

There are huge financial resources put into these communities and at first we thought what a waste but we can now see that if you can break the cycle there is a chance that they will become self sufficient and also maintain their culture. It is a very unique culture centred around family and loving. These kids have been very open with us and we have thoroughly enjoyed their happiness and playfulness. They show the average white kid as being buttoned down, over indulged and whiny. Di always said she enjoyed nursing the Aboriginals back in the 1980’s when we use to live only 1300 kilometres west of here. It use to be frustrating though as many a time spent explaining why they needed to be on IV antibiotics only to find five minutes later an IV with no one attached to it as they had gone walkabout.

Following the pancakes it was assembly time where the kids who had achieved milestones for the week were given awards. We had brought over some Canadiana souvenirs which were used as awards for this week.

After all that activity and with the heat heading up towards 40c we snuck back to Amanda’s for some lunch and do a few jobs around her place. The cattle keep coming in and eating her frangipani down to stubble so Fras built a cow proof fence to give the plant at least some chance of survival.

Caught up with some of the kids and having a chat when they were saying that one of the dads found a Tiger Snake around the community. We asked what he did with it and they said he chopped it up with an axe. Strictly speaking, all snakes are protected – don’t ask why as we have no idea. They also have Death Adders which between the two types of snakes elicit death venom.

Tiger snakes are a highly venomous snake species found in many areas of Australia. These snakes are highly variable in their colour, often banded like those on a tiger. In a study, the mortality rate from untreated bites is reported to be between 40 and 60%. Oh, just bloody wonderful.

They then go on to tell us that down at the local swimming hole in the creek are two small crocodiles. Apparently they got flushed down this way last year during the rains and have spent this winter growing. “But they not big missus, and they only fresh water, so we still swim there”.

Fras then decided that he needed to climb a hill and check out how many snakes per square meter and take in the view looking back to Amanda’s home.

We finished off the evening having dinner by the camp fire (yes, even in 40c temps) and having some damper which Amanda made and tasted superb.

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