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Cultural Tours 2019


My Mapuru Visit June 2019

This is a refection from my third visit to the community at Mäpuru. On a previous visit I was adopted as a grandson by one of the Yolŋu men and I call him “Märi’mu”. We had been conversing by phone over the past year so my return to Mäpuru has brought a wonderful reconnection with him and with other people at Mäpuru whom I have come to know. They were so happy to see me and it was great to feel the warmth of their welcome. Their smiles were wide and many. We shared stories and laughed together around the campfire. It was great to be back and one day in particular remains a highlight….


We were camping at a beautiful secluded beach that we know as Long Beach. This day my Märi’mu and I headed south for some hunting and to explore. Fishing is considered hunting by my Yolŋu friends (makes sense as we are hunting for fish) so I took my Balanda fishing rod with me as well as the fish spear we had made together. As we walked in the tidal zone of the rocky headland, Märi'mu pointed out huge oysters that he calls “ṉamura” so we harvested them, eating some on the spot and saving others for later. I remembered these from a previous visit, they take several bites each to eat and are absolutely delicious, the best I have tasted.


Further around the point Märi'mu thought the water looked good for fishing so I cast my lure in hope. Ten minutes later we had two nice 40cm trevally in the bag. Some other Balanda men were nearby and one had trapped a mud crab but wasn’t quite sure how to secure it. Fortunately his Yolŋu brother assisted, pinning it and quickly removing its fierce claws. He made it look so simple. Rendered harmless now, it was placed in his bag but not before I followed the Yolŋu cultural practice of sharing and asking for what you need – a juicy crab claw was added to our bag in exchange one of the fish. Everyone was happy.


We continue our exploration moving further south around the rocky outcrops and over the sandy beaches (called “raŋi”) with me often casting my lure but to no avail. Then Märi'mu suddenly turns and heads up the beach and over the first crest of dunes. “Where is he off to?” I wondered so naturally I followed. He had spotted sea turtle tracks which he hoped would lead to a nest of eggs. With well-practiced skills and knowledge and in no time flat, he found the spot which incidentally looked no different to the rest of the sand to my inexperienced eyes. Eggs were harvested, adding to the growing stocks.


I tried a bit more fishing and, unbeknownst to me, Märi'mu had gathered some driftwood and started a small fire in the shade of a lone tree at the top of the beach. Time was getting on and I was hungry. Heading off this morning with only a small portion of leftover damper, we now sat down to a gourmet lunch of the freshest fish with a side of mud crab claw, roasted oysters to add to our damper, all cooked over an open fire and all hunted by us that morning.


We sat in the cool of the shade together in this amazing seaside setting, Märi'mu sharing a few stories of this place and feasting on what the land had provided for us. Even the water from my canteen tasted so much better than I had remembered! I pinched myself and thought, “Can it possible get any better than this?”





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