Landed in Kununurra and the East Kimberley 10 weeks ago……..some days it feels much, much longer than this. There is an intensity of experience here brought on by the extremes of nature; the heat…oh the heat!, the vastness of the land that spreads for thousands of unchartered kilometres in every direction….. and then there is the human! A town of 7000 or so inhabitants woven into a complex map of stories.. of indigenous families and those that were once outsiders, inter marriage and a long, long history of a culture that flourished, was attacked and has somehow survived. But that is an unfolding story and I am an outsider and after 10 weeks I know fragments……. interactions with colleagues at Wunan, the stories, the hearsay, the intrigue…
Perhaps as we pass through the ‘build- up’ period, experience the wet season and another dry season some more of these fragments will be revealed….
An isolated town where an airport makes it much easier for outsiders like ourselves to come and go and get involved for a while…. I remember Vince telling me before I departed for Kununurra that there are three types of people who come to stay…missionaries, madmen and misfits . I may be all three…
It is such a small community that your every move is noted as if under 24 hour security surveillance. ” I saw your car parked outside the pub last night” “I hear that Debbie was at your place for dinner on Saturday” blah blah blah
All but the most foolhardy tourists have departed. As the daytime temperatures reach into the 40s and the humidity builds, it is too difficult to have a life outdoors. In the early dry season the Saturday morning markets were a focus of social life. The 4 wheel drives of the travellers soon to head out on the road and Saturday morning shoppers congested the market car park and streets. Now there is but a trickle and many of the business in town that survive on the passing trade have closed until after the wet season.
WEEKENDS – My landscape muse
Now it is too hot for camping and going bush. Our weekends have been adventures as we headed out of town to explore national parks, stations and reserves. The natural world is magnificent and unique. The Kimberley’s themselves are incredible formations that tell stories of geological millennia in their weathered and titled formations. The colour constantly changing with the light and the season. The formations are of such a scale over such a vast area that I often feel but an insignificant (sweaty) dot in this landscape. The Gorges provide some coolness and are filled with birds seeking relief from the heat of the mountains and plains. There is still some water and taking a dip has been the reward at the end of a walk…mind the crocs!