Over at one of the best blogs around, The Northern Myth, Bob Gosford has had such a great week of posts that I’ve decided to turn the platform over to him, just in case you’ve missed what he’s been up to in commemorating the second anniversary of the Rudd Apology.
On Saturday, he posted about the Prescribed Area People’s Alliance rally in Alice Springs. That post was a lead-up to Sunday’s report on the Ampilatwatja walkoff camp’s real celebration of the anniversary. With assistance from the Maritime Union of Australia and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union, the Ampilatwatja mob opened a new house, donated by Australian Portable Camps, at their camp at Honeymoon Bore on the traditional Alyawarr lands where they have been living since walking away from the Intervention in July 2009. (There’s lots of excellent information about the protest at the Intervention Walkoff blog and a great article in Saturday’s Age by Lindsay Murdoch,“‘Outcast’ Aborigines stage red desert walk-out,” February 13, 2010.)
The symbolism of a large house (see the photo below that I snagged from Bob’s post) being built in two weeks with help from two of Australia’s powerful unions ought to be easy for the government to understand. Maybe the folks running the Strategic Indigenous House and Infrastructure Program will hear the clue phone ringing.
Earlier in the week, Bob also reported on the great news that Marie Munkara has won the 2010 Northern Territory Book of the Year Award for Every Secret Thing (University of Queensland Press, 2009), her seriously hilarious novel about life on a mission in the Tiwi Islands. The shortlist included a couple of other fine books that I’ve read. Kathleen Kemarre Wallace’s Listen Deeply, let these stories in told a very different story of growing up Aboriginal amidst whitefella culture; it makes a wonderful companion piece to Munkara’s novel, and is a beautifully made book to boot.
Munkara also bested Nicolas Rothwell’s The Red Highway, which is a much better book than many reviews of it might lead you to believe (though Pico Iyer gave it a rhapsodic review (“Into the Shadowed Heart“) in the August 2009 issue of The Monthly). Many readers must have wanted Rothwell, Journalist, to chronicle conventional Travels Through the Territory. What they got instead was the author of Wings of the Kite Hawk on a journey of introspection through a disoriented return to Northern Australia from covering the wars in the Middle East for The Australian in 2005. It’s true that everyone Rothwell meets on his journey, including the bikies at a roadhouse, talk just like him–but that was the point. Like the nineteenth-century explorers who laid out the maps in Kite-Hawk, the people Rothwell meets on his travels through the metropolitan mazes of Darwin, the invisible corners of Alice Springs, and the vastness of the Kimberley and the Pilbara are literary fictions more than they are real people. If you accept the fact that the highways are interior, you can find that the journey is quite enjoyable, and studded with memorable inventions in portraiture.
And finally, Robbo at BitingTheDust missed out on winning in the Best Literary MedBlog category at Medgadet, which is a shame. But he’s a sure shot for for the Andy Warhol Minimal Cinema Memorial Award (that I just invented in his honor) for his posts this week of a Night Drive Home. Three short spooky videos, lit only by his headlights and the occasional flash of lightning, capture an essential Territory experience that happily remind me of the mystery and fear of similar (though much shorter journeys) I’ve made. Robbo also posted some superb shots of the sunset and storms that preceded this drive. Together they catch the monotony and majesty of the red highway in a whole different way.
Update: There’s a new piece just posted on ABC’s The Drum Unleashed (“A Sorry State of Affairs,” February 15, 2010) by Larissa Behrendt and Richard Downs on developments at the Ampilatwatja walkoff camp.
Update #2: Bob Gosford’s promised interview with Richard Downs was published on February 23: The Ampilatwatja walk-off – Richard Downs on the new ‘dog licenses’ and more