A few months ago Magali and my personal lives shifted markedly and we found ourselves on planes to Broome, Western Australia.
My three Kooya live in Broome and I regard the Nyikina Aboriginal community of the Kimberley region as the closest kin I have to country, place. You can read about how I came to be called Malkay by the Nyikina community here - https://www.alexanderhayes.com/journey/malkay-my-name
So about nine weeks ago I also found myself camping out on the last stand of Micklo Corpus, Yawuru Elder who has been fighting for country for many years to keep companies such as Buru Energy off his country. I hope you will take the time and read the following - https://www.alexanderhayes.com/journey/micklo-corpus-camp-yulleroo
I camped in sub zero temperatures and entertained a snake.
It occurred to me as we completed the first rough cut of the 'Protecting Country' film that our duty, our obligation to country was to include as many of community across Australia in returning this film to those communities from which we gained the footage. This is known as an emancipatory capability, an acknowledgement that in order for a film to be authentic and complete that it includes the feedback of all and other members of community along that path, a process not simply a product.
I invited Micklo Corpus to join me on that trip across country. Due to circumstances beyond his control he was unable to join me on this return to country of the film.
So why has a young man born on Warringah country, Sydney come to be travelling on country with me?
Liam was born on Warringah country, the name Warringah is Aboriginal in origin. Its meaning is that of the south side of Middle Harbour, Middle Harbour, Grey head and Signs of rain. Unbeknown's to Liam (even as I type this post) does Liam realise that he was born on Guringai country, in a place of the Warringah people who were catastrophically affected by a smallpox outbreak in conjunction to dispossession of their country in the late 1700's.
You can read more about this area here - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warringah_Council
Liam is of German (paternal) heritage and of French (maternal) background yet his birthplace is that of Australian place, country. By invitation Liam has been invited to travel with me across country and to connect with the people of this nation, of the many Aboriginal nations, communities and places of significance for his future.
I could have also connected with and taken on the journey many other young people with a prospect for being a leader across the country, yet, in Liam's case there is one outstanding principle I see in this young man's character that resonates with my own which is to grow also in his own talented capacity.
Liam is an aesthete, a young man with a seeing eye.
He is a talented photographer and he has the capability of listening, curious to learn and in that is all that the Aboriginal communities of Australia have encouraged me to be also.
To be listening, deeply. With both ears, eyes.
So today we took off across country to Spear Creek, winding our way through the Heysen Pass and finding ourself marvelling at the juxtaposition of beauty, sublime and the dystopia of Port Augusta, South Australia. Amidst yachts on the river, dumped shopping trolleys in the Spencer Gulf and the extinct stacks of the Port Augusta power station we took photos and we marvelled at how nature returns everything back to a reality and a reflection on our ridiculous efforts to survive as humankind.
The photos below are form Liam's selection from todays photography. If you like his photography (which I am certain you will!) please visit his portfolio at https://500px.com/liam_wille
We push on tomorrow via Coober Pedy, having replaced two damaged tyres, a broken rack arm on the steering of the car and a loss of nothing more than time.
We are grateful and we are thankful we have the Ancestors travelling with us across this trip over country, through communities and along songlines north in memory of James Yami Lester, a hero for all those who stand true to protecting country.
We are listening to some George Bishop, musician from Broome as we trace some routes on the map of where we have been, where we are going and where we know we don't know.