Journey update

Finally in range on the Pelican.   A lot has been happening.  Now here is a little update.



Thursday 18th “Connie’s beach “Cape Flattery  : Far north Queensland, Cape York Peninsula  Australia.


Reflections on Story project

 ( Samia Goudie ) 









Woke early so we could have breakfast and meet as a team to check equipment for the day. James and Natalie heading out to Pelican to work with the Scientists and 10 community participants to start the Salt marsh and wetland research and monitoring of water Quality and Shrimp identification. Griffith University has a study to determine Gulf and Cape populations in these areas.


The day is hot and lots to do on shore to continue the set up with the Media Tent. TJ and James are working on making sure things are clear and doing run downs on systems and once this is done we can start bringing people in and this tent will get very busy.


As a group we are in the “forming , storming “ stage , where we are getting to know each others styles and practices and finding out how to balance our skills and how to transfer these knowledge’s best between us. James leaves in 8 days and as the equipment is State Library Queensland resources and Pc, us happy Mac users are having a quick re- learning curve to switch back in mode. The programs we are using are Movie Maker 2 and photo story 3, Audacity for Audio, mp3 files and wave’s files and Adobe Photoshop elements and VLC for multi region for when we have movie nights.


The Equipment we are using are canon and Sony digital still camera’s 5 and 10 mega pixel and Hard drive video and tape. Sound equipment is zoom player and Ederol 1. In Addition to this we have a great sound system , data projector and screen , lots card readers , USB Hard drive back ups and a printer / scanner. All run off a little generator, so soft and sweet tucked away in the trees we can hardly hear it.


The day has gone fast. Steve the Chef for us all is wonderful and a volunteer who came to us through an organization called Indigenous Volunteers and so we are healthy and well fed.

The Bulk of who is here today in the camp is on the boat, so it’s very quiet and just a few men out in the shallows spear fishing and Andrew TJ’s Partner is a great help making things around camp to make our lives easier. He is amazingly skillful in the bush and makes me feel a little like I have become soft living in the city these last few years.


The other great addition to this year so far is meeting the Men who have come here to run workshops in Language and history of the area and also of course support the men. In this group we have some very strong and articulate people as well as the Traditional Owner of this place here at Cape Flattery. I hope to interview some of them later and they are keen to do so. Also further along the beach Natalie and I will make a trip to visit some other Traditional owners who have asked us to come spend some time with them so they can tell us some stories.


There is already a sense of not enough time to do it all. The set up takes much more than we thought, for many reasons and of course an itinerary on any given day is bound to change as the flow of nature directs us and as people move with their own rhythms. The tide even to get here sets up challenges as does the road, thus slowing down people who were due to be here and then affecting the whole program. Never the less, we will do what we can and I have no doubts that more stories will be made than we expected and that many more will have beginnings here.


It is important to find the balance between pushing to have things done and noticing where we are. If any of us sit in the Tent too long and get hot it’s proven to not be healthy for us in this heat. SO stopping and having a swim with the crocodiles and having a practice of letting go and trusting that what is needed will occur. It is important we Listen, that I listen. The whole process must come from directions of the community with our assistance and the importance of this can not be over emphasized. Otherwise we are just doing something that may look good, but lack any real depth and thus not become sustainable. The drive of outcomes from funding bodies and institutions often creates this dilemma, between process, practice and outcome timing. However regardless I believe it is essential to continue to come back to reflection and flexibility and redesign processes if necessary to keep co – creativity central and not become product driven. This will be something my interviews will explore and I expect some interesting reflections on this from the other trainers in particular as well as the Elders and Pelican mob.


It’s definitely a challenge! But a good one!







Friday 19th September


Awoke feeling much more rested and clear. The scientists are off again with community doing more sea grass mapping and have so far identified several varieties. James and Natalie are working on making a story about Sea Grass which will no doubt become part of a bigger story on “ Caring for Sea Country “. Des Bowen bought out the copies of the “Turtle and Dugong, Caring for country plan, that he has been working on with others and we hope to get the youth involved in this and link it with a story. James is out on the boat again. Ian and Christine of the Cape York Marine Environment Group have been helping lead this process and the engagement is great. The crew came back to dinner last night with stories about seeing heaps of Dugong and dolphins and the Coxswains trainees basically are really working the boat now, which is a fantastic outcome.


Another day unfolds.


  Toni Jayne (one of the trainers) relaxing







Saturday 20th September


Had a long but good meeting this morning with the story telling crew Quite a few glitches are now ironed out and the technical side is running and we are now getting up to speed with new equipment and the running of the systems we have in place. TJ and James have done an amazing job of organizing the main systems and now we are regularly having people drop in and look at the space .We have definitely generated interest and a number of the kids are picking up now and running around taking pictures and starting to get excited about how to make the stories. The Elders are really into it as well and we have a lovely elder working with TJ right now to construct her oral family story across the generations.

Today I did some interviews with two of the traditional owners and the feedback so far is extremely positive and inspires me to keep going. The process of getting everything here has been massive and the time to set up and organize the camp exhausting, but we are here and it’s happening. The Elders came done this morning and the feedback on the film night was positive also and so tonight we have been requested to run another one and show some more films. I will show “Us Deadly Mob “(see the scroll under samia films) and also Sean again as everyone just adores his comedy and way. We are already talking about getting him here some time and doing a comedy workshop and using his humor as a way to also talk about some harder issues. Sean has a couple of jokes about using Yandi  (Marijuana ) and the Elders thought this may be a good chance to then open up a easy discussion about drug use. I will help with this if need be and support that with the idea of healthy lifestyles as alternative as seen in my short “US Deadly Mob”.

All is all another big day and so much always to do , but important to stop , connect with the ground , “ feet on country “ as Des says and watch the clouds roll by , gaze at the ocean and remember where we are.

Tomorrow the camp will truly begin as people arrive after a wedding and a funeral in town today and then we will have our first structured workshop and also the Elders will be sailing to Lizard Island for a memorial to all those who have passed away in the 5 years the project has been going, which no doubt will be very moving. From here on in the stories will be coming out fast and we will no doubt have a job just to keep up with them. The engagement and empowerment is What this is about and so far the feedback is good and for such a large project with so many parts and such diversity the fact we are even here at all seems to be incredible to me at times.


Desmond Bowen

Sunday 21st September 08

A rest day for Pelican and so most people who are here are off fishing and resting in hammocks. TJ and Andrew climbed the hill, which even though this is my second trip here I have not yet done. Coleridge has been fishing out the front and Caralyne who is Nine and a half made her first ever digital story today with some original music played by her dad. She lit up and was so proud hers is the first completed work and after tomorrow I expect we will have more to come.

The Kayak crew has arrived and they will meet tomorrow to start getting prepared for the trip ahead where the young people will trace the route taken of their ancestors to Lizard Island, which once upon a time they could have walked through to The trip will be difficult and hard and a real accomplishment if finished and so it is important the preparation both physically and mentally is good for all. We will also have a workshop tomorrow and we will try get the kids actively involved in more stories and in helping document the Kayak and old canoe stories. I will show The film “return to Limuw “made by the Chumash Maritime association in Santa Barbara CA I spent time with them when I was traveling the USA on my Fulbright year ( see scroll link for films “ return to Limuw” and also for my Blog “ Journey to Turtle Island “ link in scroll links. The story of the canoe “Tomol” is a good one and the film is inspiring and I expect screening this to the youth before they start to prepare themselves may help them approach this journey as a real spiritual and emotional growing time.

I will be going on this journey, both to assist the youth to make more stories about the journey I also will be a general help for the leaders of the project and help where needed on the pelican

Walking back from the kitchen today (we area good long walk from the main camp) saw a dolphin come in to play about a foot from our hands and turn around and almost fully leap out of the water. This afternoon looks like we will get to talk with some of the other TO (traditional owners) of this place and interview them for some more history of the area. I can’t wait to see TJ’s story and all in all now the creative part is really unfolding as more people arrive today on the tide.


Carla and Caralyne in camp (two of our youth in the DST project)








Monday 22nd September


Preparation for the Kayak Journey to Lizard Island is underway. This will be a Historic voyage and will really test the participants to their cores. We started the day with a workshop up in the Milbi “Story “tent with about 15 youth. We covered the use of the camera’s and recording gear and showed a short example of a dst made the previous day by one of the young people, the first one done. Then we watched with James from Slq a wonderful little animation where the young people can record their voices into the characters and then interact, this was a big hit.


After this we headed up the beach and did the kayak activity training and the young people used the cameras to document the action. After we had a hugely busy day with 5 young people coming in and working directly on their stories and creating files. Tomorrow we will finalize those stories and work in some audio mixing with Audacity and Garage band and add some mixes.


Lillian the lovely Language teacher from the school came in the evening and met us and she is very keen to come back and work with us on integrating language into the work and has an idea she wants to work on when she comes back with a song and words in language from the Memorial sail to Lizard island today. This was the other activities which saw 31 people head over on Pelican and spend the day there remembering those who have passed since this project began 5 years ago. I did not go, but Natalie went and said it was very moving as did the elders and families of those people.


The evening ended with a few short films that were used to inspire the people going on the Kayak Journey with a lovely beach fire. The camp officially started today, even though we have been here for what feels an age already and we are well and truly in action mode and the stories and data collection is happening. The transfer of knowledge is high, between us as a team, the youth and the elders as well. There was some discussion today about logistics, of positions on the beach, as we are quite some way from the main kitchen meeting area. We resolved it and have decided to stay where we are as their does not seem a shortage of people coming down.

The camp is so much bigger this year and with some many more activities and so there are some hiccups in various areas, however these things resolve and all in all everyone somehow gets on and moves through their various moments . The place is so beautiful, but also there is always a lot of emotion to work through for people. The Kitchen and various basic areas have taken a bit to refine and get working well, nothing unusual and basically with good heart all can be resolved



Kayak training



 Lionel with his catch





Saturday the 27th September


I have been ill with asthma and an infection, however we have kept going. I was so sick TJ went instead of me with the Pelican on a 4 day trip to Lizard Island, retracing the ancestor’s journey. It is hard to say if indeed people did make this journey as a right of passage or initiation, or if they just made it for trade and fishing etc. There are various stories we have heard about this. One thing is for sure that once people would have walked there before it became completely separate and people also did indeed make canoes and travel there. The context is not certain though this journey has certainly made people wonder and start looking for records of such journey’s. The ceremony before was inspiring and good words were spoken to the participants both men and women about the history making they are part of and when TJ comes back we will have hopefully some good documentation from the crew on the boat and participants as well as earlier shots here that the youth have taken before they left to make into a story.


The weather will have been rough out there and so the first day looks as if it was calm and all went well, but then the wind shifted and the rain came  , so we will all look forward to the tales they will surely have for us when they come back tonight.


Natalie and I are working on a number of stories, some with kids as young as 6 and another one with one of the young men from the AFL development program. I have been busy with recording audio and some interviews as well as music. Cyril the dancer who was with us last year is here now and so I recorded him on his DIJ and he thought it was pretty good and now wants a story made as well about him and his dancers. I am hoping some of his younger nephews will help. The project is about people making THEIR stories, not us making them for them. Engaging people in literacy and visual competency and learning new things together.


The camp has had a lot of ups and downs and the timing of things constantly is thrown off. As in all communities things are effected by events such as weddings and funerals and in this case we have had both as well as unfortunately some bad news of other health issues of families here that has led to people leaving and also coming in late.

The challenge is to trust and do what we can and work with what is and so far we still have many stories coming through and between the heat and various things we are on track to have some if not all ready to show the community on the last night.


ABC radio has been doing daily logs and so if you go to the Hopevale- Pelican wiki and the Pelican site you will find the ABC local radio links there to hear more on the overall project.


This evening the Kayak crew returned and all but one canoe made it to Lizard.

Apparently pretty hairy at times in a big swell and winds that were Gale force.

TJ reckons it was like an episode of survival and so we are waiting for the million dollars

Prize. Judy Bowen is designing a T’ shirt, for the “Guugu Yimmithirr Bama Kayak

Warrior’s journey”. Dinner was a big cook up on the Barbecue with the lovely Fez from Samoa who helped the Bama make dinner. The feeling in camp is euphoric and all is peaceful as the rain comes in and welcomes all the new arrivals to the camp. There are now about a good Hundred here and maybe of that about 60 are kids maybe more.


Sunday 28th September


Awoke to a bunch of Kids at 6am outside the tent waiting to make their stories. So straight into it all. All day we have had up to 20 kids at a time in the tent all computers totally in action and kids squeezing in to make there stories and record. Camera’s were off with the kids in full use as Speak out got going  with Cyril Bowen (Dancer and Yadaki) and Tamara Pearson who is here from “Naisda” (National Aboriginal Islander Dance Company) . Coleridge recorded some tracks with Estelle Kefford and Raf from the Boat. Patti from Speak out and I helped work on the audio for a couple of stories with the kids as well making some sound, music tracks. So a Super Busy day. All as expected and such a change. The teaching is definitely about flexibility, and being fluid with the environment and being able to wait for the moments to unfold. There has been times I have been wondering if this is really happening, if this ‘experiment “is valid, if what we are doing here can work, is needed, is something for this area and today .Today I think it is. Today from the talks with people and the feel, this is good! Or as Cyril says, “Proper good way “.







(Left to right) Natalie with Myeisha in Milbi: Cyril and youth: Kids play in water: Cyril with Yadaki.

~ by samiastories on 30 September, 2008.

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