Pictured here following their safe return to Melbourne last Friday (June 5) are Parade College’s Indigenous students - Deklan Garcia (Year 12), Desmond Tipuamantamurri (Year 12), Joshua Guwuwiwi (Year 11) and George Dann (Year 12) - together with John Nicholls (Director of VCAL and Secretary of the Old Paradians’ Association).
The boys, it’s fair to say, took remote living to the max, having spent the recent months of the College lockdown back home in distant regions of the nation’s far north.
Deklan jetted home to Wyndham, Western Australia where he honed his fishing, driving, hunting and camp cooking skills. Deklan explained that while the lockdown measures imposed upon Melburnians were more extreme than those implemented in the Kimberleys, social distancing was still part of the new norm.
Desmond returned to the Tiwi Islands - similarly spending time with his family members fishing, hunting and learning to drive – and spoke of the elderly people of the Island not being allowed to play cards under mango trees due to the physical distancing laws. Desmond is currently studying for a Certificate III in Sport and Recreation and aspires to become a professional athlete.
Joshua flew home to East Arnhem Land, and relished the opportunity to join his family in hunting and cooking turtle. The opportunity to reunite with his own was truly precious for Josh, who is currently studying for a Certificate II in Sport and Recreation and hopes to pursue a career within the sports industry.
George made it back to the picturesque Beagle Bay in Broome on the Dampier Peninsula - and having now completed his L-plate log book can't wait to obtain his licence. George is studying to become a diesel mechanic and is currently completing his Certificate II in Automotive. On earning qualification, George hopes to gain employment in the mines of Western Australia.
Given the restrictions imposed on the airline industry, the students’ return to Melbourne took on marathon proportions – commencing with a flight from Broome to Perth and drive to Geraldton for two nights accommodation, prior to a return flight to Perth and four-hour wait before completion of the final leg to Melbourne and return to school the following day.
Teachers, staff and fellow students of Parade College have welcomed the boys of the far north back with open arms. Parade is enriched for the presence of students of such diverse and rich culture – each one of them imbued with an abundance of energy and determination to succeed in their chosen pathway.
The following account of his recent experiences in Wyndham is written by Year 12 student and Preston campus Prefect Deklan Garcia:
Turkey: Turkeys can be found in the bush in the morning before the sun rises and in the afternoon when it is cool. They are very hard to find amongst the dry grass and you need really good eyesight to spot them, along with experience, so that you don’t mistake the turkey for a brolga. Once you shoot the turkey, you need to break its neck so that it dies quickly . . . you then pluck the turkey, start a fire and burn all of the remaining feathers, before taking it home to cook for dinner.
Cow: The best time to get a cow is from the afternoon into night time so that the meat doesn’t sweat and goes off. My favourite part on the meat is the rib bone and I love to have it with fresh chilli relish and rice. The fresh taste of the steak is the best. You have to dry the meat over a couple of days to let the blood drip then it’s good to cook.
Barramundi: I love using a hand line when I catch a ‘Barra’. The best bait for a Barra is mullet. The Barra I caught in this photo is 127cm long. It was so big that it couldn’t even jump out of the water.
Fishing, hunting, swimming and camping is the life that I have always known in growing up with my family - and I will always continue teaching the younger generation about bush from the knowledge that I have been taught form my family elders, uncles and brothers.
The following is a reflection from Year 12 student Desmond Tipuamantamurri:
Our people believe that we are born of the land and our soul is connected to our country. We do not own the land and we do not take more than we need; we have lived this way for hundreds of years and during those years my people have learned to live with the land and trust it as it provides shelter, food and water which is more than anything we could ask for.
Our family are very close, extending all over the island. Our family trees are very different compared to those around the world, in that you could have an uncle, auntie or nan who are just infants. My people are very accepting no matter your colour, background or sex. Family means everything and being called a brother or sister from one of our people is a sign of respect, not just a label.
Our culture is passed down in stories and paintings through generations, but as we get older, we are slowly losing that culture. That is why we need to learn as much as possible from our elders before they pass on.
I grew up in Melbourne most of my life, so never really got to be around for many things - and even now I am learning more of my language and culture. Our people grew up learning to hunt for snakes, fish, monitor lizards, dugongs, turtles, geese, crab and sand stinger-rays just to name a few. It’s a lifestyle that teaches us to live without fear and trust in the land and to trust in ourselves.
One of the biggest teachers for me has been my Nanna, who has taught me all the language that I know. She has also shared so many facts she knows about the land - such as when it’s dry season and there’s a certain fruit that the bats eat – to dry season (winter) when the dragonflies start to appear.