I’m happiest covered in mud

I have a bit of a moment to reflect on the events of yesterday. We spent the day with Tony and Jai of kookaburra tours. Jai is a traditional land owner-translation aboriginal of the lizard tribe. I feel bad as I can’t remember his people’s name. So he has contact and permission from tribal members to show us white folk about their ways. This was probably the most stimulating adventure of our trip.

Jai took us to Mungalla about 60 miles north of Townsville. This is a rich valley bordered by rain forest mountains, and the coral sea. Traditional land owners here tell us of the history of the carpet snake tribe, which only had about 150 miles of land in their nation, but didn’t
want or need more because the land was so rich. Here at Mungalla today, they raise Brahman cattle…and I was blown away by their husbandry techniques. They import bull semen from the states from some of the finest stock and use eggs extracted from their brahman cows, but then implant the fertilized eggs into retired dairy cows. How incredible is that?!? It’s a genius technique that provides the calf with a first class milked and the nutrients it needs for a good start yet keeps the genetic lines pure. I was totally blown away by this. It utilizes dairy cows a few more years in their lives and gets first rate stock out of it. Good stuff. Good stuff.

Part of the reason Mungalla was started was so that the traditional land owners, who have become complacent in the welfare system, could once again learn to utilize the land and become productive citizens again, while still paying homage to their forefathers.

At Mungalla we were taught how to throw boomerangs..(I hope my video turns out). We didn’t kill anyone but we came darn near close. One person had Teheran bejeezus scared out of them. From there we were taken to the original homestead sight where James Cassidy, an Irish immigrant built his beautiful estate and housed hundreds of aboriginals to keep them safe from the mass killings and assimilation attempts of the white settlers. To this day many aboriginals use the last name Cassidy to pay homage to him. Our visit ended with a heart breaking look at how circuses in the states would kidnap aboriginals and exploit them. I left heavy hearted and ashamed of my cultural past. Especially when I learned their first stop in the states was Baltimore.

After purchasing some art, which will look great in our red room, we were off to an Italian lunch. We all groaned as we were convinced that this would be our 5th night of lasagna, but we were pleasantly surprised. We had tapas served to us from traditional land owners learning the hospitality trade. It was yummy! And more importantly it was not Lasagna! Hotel Noola, you win on so many levels! (side note: did you know that northern Australia has a huge Italian influence and had a mafia that lurked about called the dark hand?)

We couldn’t rest much following lunch so we were tossed back in the van and on to Kennedy beach where we met with another one of big Jake’s kinsmen…Gary Cassidy. Gary took us on an awesome mangrove tour where I was able to get hip deep in the mud in search of crabs and mudskippers. We were covered in mud, I even had to be pulled out once, and we were absolutely in heaven. (I should have video)

We needed to clean off so we ran intro the most beautiful surf you could imagine. I loved this. First after a week of slogging around and being mentally and physically engaged it was good just to have the spiritual moment of just being. It was joyous. The water was cool, and clear, and filled every pore of our beings. I was truly happy.

On the way home we listened to Jai give us a lesson on the yiigiiyiigii or the didgereedoo to us white folk. apparently, it isn’t an Aussie instrument. It came to the aussies from the island people, and during the time of “black birding”, the slavery trade here, it was picked up by the tribals. It is forbidden for women to play the didgereedo as the tribals believe that it will play havoc on our reproductive system. If you want to be pregnant, you will be barren, if you don’t want to be pregnant you will get pregnant…given that we don’t want to go that route, I respected their wishes and didn’t try, but the concept is very much the same as the tuba so I suspect I would do better than our men who tried.

Back at reef hq, I presented my research with my group, and we rocked. Two more nights to sleep on the floor…I can’t wait to back at the holiday inn and I can’t wait to see Travis again, and meet up with Katie Grenchik, so we can explore the world on our own. Today we will be observing the education facilities, and assessing the messaging here at the aquarium. Not totally psyched for it but maybe I can bring back some unique interpretive ideas for the zoo. No worries!