To the outback and back.
Iga Warta ( Home of the Orange tree)
Iga Warta is a camp and home of the members of the Coulthard Family. They broke ground in 1996 to build the place.. It was the vision of their Father Clem Coulthard. ...on Adnyamathanha Land.
When we arrived we had no idea what the place would be like. We didn't have reservations . At the main office there were women and children around. They are all dressed just as we are by the way...jeans shorts etc. There were prices lists on the wall outside of the main building. Tours of rock painting,ochre pit tour,tapping sticks making,campfire dreaming, dinner prices. We asked what was going on that day. They said nothing was going on for the rest of the day.
Bobby and I had read how they had a painting class...we asked about that ...The women said the one who teaches it would not be there the next day to teach it. The ONE thing we wanted to do was the painting class. We were disappointed.
We were not sure what to do we were not getting much information. Terry Coulthard the boss was gone for the day and would be back later they said.We decided to rent a bunk house as our bush camper was very cramped.
I said to Bobby that ....no one seemed to know what was going on. He suggested we go make some friends. So we went back to the large porch in front of the store and talked to the women and children there. There was an older woman ,I assume the Grandma who told us that the last time they got rain was in Feb . When it rains it floods there .She said it was so wonderful they took all the Children to see the water. They don't get much rain there.The Family was very friendly and very soft spoken.
Iga Warta was very green though unlike the areas outside of it. It was like an Oasis compared to the lands we traveled through. They asked how long we planned to stay. We said at least for the night.
Terry showed up later in the evening and welcomed us. There was a campfire so we went over to it to visit with some others that were camped there. We introduced ourselves to the Australians ...."Aah you are Americans" they said. Bobby said "I wonder what gave us away"?
We decided the next morning to check out and drive on to Arkaroola. It was a beautiful drive. It had red earth rocks and mountain ranges all around. The Arkaroola has an Observatory and many camp sites and hiking trails. It was the site of an old mining area. Terry's Father Clem Coulthard was a guide on the trails in this area, and it was there he dreamed of creating a place like Iga Warta for Cultural Tourism to teach their culture to others. We stayed awhile and took some pictures but decided the place was too dusty and hot and had swarms of flies. We decided not to stay there but go back to Iga Warta for the night. It was like we were drawn to that place and had to go back.
When we got back to Iga Warta we told Terry that we returned because Iga Warta was much more pleasant. He thanked us for coming back and considered it a compliment to them.We told him we would like to do the Ochre pit tour in the morning.
In the morning at 8 AM Terry took us three out and another couple in a small bus up to the ocre pit. We had heard from the women the first night before that it has all colors there. I was excited to see the colors and thought how great it would be to paint with them. They do not sell any of the ochre though. ..the site is sacred.
On the way up just past a dry creek bed Terry stopped the bus and asked us to step out and gather around in front of a large gum tree. He spoke softly and reverently about the area and how important it was to the Yura Wooda ( Aboriginal Dreaming ). He spoke of the land we stood on and how old it was . (There are fossils 500 million years old in the hills) He talked about environment geology , spiritual, and the Yura Mooda and how it all fit together. He pointed to the large gum tree as an example; The land was the mother and the tree rose out of the ground and the branches all reached out and were the children and so on and so on and how they have all left and populated the world. The world would be at peace if all knew we were all related. He feels this was the birthplace of humanity since the land was all joined at one time.
We then got back into the bus and traveled up the winding road to the ochre pit. The colors were incredible: red ,orange,white,yellow,pinks purple. Terry asked me to hold a container of water. ..he grabbed a handful of pure white soil and asked me to pour some water in his hand. He then mixed to in his palm with his other hand. He put white stripes on the men and white dots on the women. The white was the spirit. Yellow was next. It symbolized the sun. again more dots and stripes on our faces. He then mixed water with red. Red was for blood which runs through us. Purple was put on our temples and he pressed it in and said it was for cleansing ( liver color). Next was orange ..he put some on our throats and asked us to breath in deeply. Orange was for the lung.
A very beautiful and moving experience. I asked if I could take pictures of the pit and he said yes. The other woman commented that pictures could not tell and show the spirit of the place was and I said that was very true.
We had talked with Terry the night before. He told us how he had built all the buildings in the camp himself with help from some of the others. He told us the roles of his brothers, One was musical,one did the talks,one was a general do anything type guy.
He told us that he had been a teacher in the past He Brothers and Sisters were kids they had to go out and hunt rabbits for their Mum very early in the morning before going to school and by the time they got to school they were exhausted and could not concentrate to even to learn. As a young adult was helping out at a school with odd jobs and was illiterate at the time. Pretty soon he was teaching some classes and still could not read. They asked him to take some classes. He learned to read in one year...then took higher ed classes. He said he was proud of who he was and what he was doing...still teaching but living on this land. He was putting together a dictionary of words to keep so the language would not pErish. Language and building things with his hands is his passion. We told him about building our log house and he said he would love to do that.
Judy and Bob and Bobby