During the holiday break, 25 boys participated in the Read Earth Immersion Experience in Cape York. All boys were really excited to see, experience and learn about Indigenous culture and were inspired by the kind hearts of the Indigenous communities and their ability to stay positive when times look challenging.

Our first stop was Dakarrba, just outside Wujal Wujal. Here we were welcomed on to Country with a traditional ceremony and met Traditional Owners (TOs) Kathleen, Francis, Gloria and Florence. The aunties taught us about traditional bush medicine and remedies, for example the green ant can be crushed to release a potent smell which can then be sniffed to help clear sinuses and headaches. We also painted with the TO’s, while yarning with them and learning about Indigenous life, culture and their personal experiences. It was inspiring to discover that Kathleen was one of the first members of the Justice Group, which introduced the alcohol ban in Wujal Wujal in a bid to reduce domestic violence in the community. We also spent a day out in the local community of Wujal Wujal, playing sport with the kids at the PCYC and walking around town.

After three days in Dakarrba, we travelled down the Cape to Bana homeland. At Bana, we were once again welcomed on to Country with a traditional ceremony and were introduced to some real characters; Samboy, Horace, Peter, Condi and Errol. All the TOs were so kind and they loved having a laugh with us and a song around the fire. At Bana, we went bush walking, had a lesson in traditional language, swam in the nearby creek, fished and participated in a corroboree. While at Bana, we split into four groups to complete our service projects. The groups were responsible for building stairs leading down to a creek, a BBQ shelter, a picnic table, and levelling a communal area in preparation for concreting. It was great to be able to give back to the communities that had welcomed us and see just how much these small acts were going to positively impact the daily life of locals.

On the last day, we had a Kupp Murri, which involves food being cooked underground all day. While the food was cooking, we took a trip to Trevethan Falls, a sacred Indigenous men’s site where males go to perform initiation ceremonies. The falls were beautiful and overflowing, and it was a real privilege to be invited to the site. The following day we said our goodbyes and went to Port Douglas for our final couple of days.

At Port Douglas we had a day of snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef and were amazed by the beautiful coral and fish we were able to see. All the boys had a blast on the trip and learnt a lot about Indigenous culture that is so rich with history. It was an unforgettable experience being able to visit places in Queensland that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to and also have an opportunity to learn more about our Indigenous history.

Sasha S