Arnhem Land – Mapuru
Twice a year we gather together a group of people and head out on the very long and dusty Arnhem Highway. We take this arduous journey in order to visit a small homeland community called Mäpuru. It is here that live our very dear Yolŋu friends and adopted family who we have been working in partnership with for the past 10 years. We organise these trips in order to support our friends in making a meaningful living on country. In exchange they teach us what it means to live on and speak to the land; how to weave pandanas baskets; how the water tells its story of life through those very fibres we weave; and how we might actually be able to look at the world differently.
And so we invite you to join us, to live with and learn from the people of Mäpuru who are passing on their traditional skills and knowledge to future generations – as it has always been. Each visitor is welcomed with an open heart and mind, and given a rare glimpse into the Indigenous worldview.
The trips are divided into two areas, Weaving Workshops for women and Living on Country Workshops for men.
The group meets in Darwin before clambering into the hired 4WDs and commencing our 2 day drive into some of the remotest parts of Arnhem Land
The drive is spectacular. A long and dusty red road reaching to the East with river crossings, and stunning scenery. We spend the first night on the road camped at the top of an escarpment with views for miles below. We cook dinner on the camp fire under the crystal clear night sky – setting the tone for the days ahead.
Late on the following day we will arrive in Mäpuru and be warmly greeted by the men and women of the community. That night we set up our camp (cooking, tents, camp fire) and have a good night’s rest. Our workshop starts the following day.
Weaving is used as a means of cultural exchange and will enable women participants to witness and learn the entire process; from the collection of barks, pandanus and kala (natural dyes) to the weaving and creation of your own pieces. There are also opportunities to collect bush honey, mangrove worms, go fishing and swimming in water holes. Along the way you will build friendships and learn about Yolngu culture.
“I didn’t just learn how to weave a basket in Mäpuru, I took a brief glimpse at my universe differently.”
– Renata, 2012 participant.
Living on Country (‘Mens’ business’)
A rare opportunity to deepen cultural understanding through taking part in the daily activities involved in living on country. The exact structure of each day is organic in nature, decided through a process of group consensus, as is the way in Yolŋu culture. However activities may include hunting on the buffalo plains, fishing in the estuaries, collecting bush honey from the forest, stripping bark from trees, learning how to paint using traditional methods, making spears and didgeridoos and sharing time around the campfire.
During this time the elders share their skills, expertise, and knowledge of their traditional lifestyle in their ancient and majestic landscape.
How to Book
Please email email@example.com to be placed on the waiting list for 2018 trips or to go on the expression of interest list for 2019.
“These trips always leave people with far more than baskets, bark paintings and didgeridoos. Whether it is through the intuitive guidance under the weaving shelter, walking through the mangrove forest, buffalo hunting on the mud-plains, swimming in the water-hole, gathering pandanus or being together around the bush camp-fire, the gentle people of Mäpuru open our western eyes to a glimmer of the knowledge and wisdom of Yolŋu culture.”
– Sophie, CERES Global Co-ordinator
Our next trip
Our hosts in Mapuru are the Yolngu Mapuru community members, and John & Linda from the Mapuru homelands School . The sometimes difficult intricacies of land ownership, kinship, and community dynmaics are sometimes navigated by John and Linda.The various CERES Global group facilitators on the Mapuru trip often have a long standing relationship with Mapuru and the community, and provide cultural insights and knowledge gained over years of friendship.
CERES Global travel to Mapuru to learn. Unlike other CERES Global trips, the focus is not so much about what we’re bringing to the community in terms of skills and knowledge, but more about learning from local mob. We feel as though Indigenous Australians have heard enough ideas from us balanda for now.
Photos from our trip to Arnhem Land
News from Arnhem Land
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Mäpuru is a small and remote township in East Arnhem Land; 1000 kms from Darwin and 50kms south of Elcho Island as the crow flies. CERES’s (a community environmental park in Brunswick) runs trips [...]
How can I explain to you what it was like at Mäpuru. This is possibly one of the most difficult things I have had to do. There is so much that language cannot begin to [...]