Walking with Spirits


(This is a very delayed post… I’ve just finished my first semester back at school since Adella was born, and it’s been a busy one. Catching up on some blogging now!)

So, I officially feel like a hippy mum. We took our 7-week-old daughter to a music festival out in the sticks.

We stayed up in Katherine visiting family for a couple of weeks, and had the Walking with Spirits festival recommended to us. We drove from Katherine to Beswick, and then took a 4WD track for about half an hour to the location of the festival. We parked the car and crossed a small creek and found ourselves on a big sandy floodplain bank along a river. The sand was soft and clean, and on the other side of the river were super tall cliff faces. The rocks were a myriad of different shades of oranges, reds and browns. Many children were splashing around in the shallows and a few people had gone for a good long swim across the waterway.

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The site is closed to the public everyday of the year, except for this festival. So, it’s pretty special to be able to access this piece of Arnhem land.Having an infant at a festival does mean for a different experience. We settled up the back so that we were far enough away from the speakers. Plus, I didn’t really want to interrupt other people’s festival experience. But, Adella was really great. She mostly slept, and when she wasn’t sleeping it was easy enough to get up and have a bouncy dance with her. The most annoying thing is the amount of stuff you need for one tiny person. I had piles of nappies, blankets (it gets really cold at night) and things like mosquito nets. Meanwhile, not really anything for me!Whilst chilling in the afternoon on the sand, I suddenly turned around to find 5 young aboriginal girls crowded around Adella’s pram. At the time, her Yeye was rocking her. The girls were so confused. They wanted to know who was Mum, Dad, Grandma and Grandpa. Then, they couldn’t work out why Grandpa was trying to calm her crying. Then, they kept telling me to give her milk to stop her crying. I guess the traditional family structure in aboriginal families would be very different, and I don’t think the men have much to do with settling and quietening babies. They were fascinated!

It was such a family-friendly festival. Once the traditional dancing started, so many children and audience members joined in. The dancers moved to the music with such a strong rhythm. With their red clothing and white body paint, they were eye-catching and stark as they kicked up a flurry of sand with their feet. We heard aboriginal stories with beautiful animation to match. There were amazing fire dancers, and even some breakdancers too! The night finished with a rock group that had everyone up on their feet. The ambiance was complete with small campfires spotted through the crowd, as well as candles drifting down the river that reminded us of the spirits present on the land.

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Lights bouncing off the cliff face and candles drifting on the river.
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