Hello! I’m Anna, the Langports Managing Director and I have been working at Langports for 13 years. Since we started the Langports Foundation, I have been involved here and there with some of the projects. One of these special projects involves Yalari an Aboriginal organisation supporting children from remote communities of Australia go to the top private high schools in Australia. The founder Waverly Stanley and his wife Llew Mullins have become extremely good friends of Langports and my family.
When I received a phone call from Llew to invite me on the 2018 Yalari Grade 9 girls outback camp, I was excited to jump at the opportunity. Spending 6 days with 14 indigenous girls and Yalari staff travelling approximately 1000 kms through Arrernte, Watarrka and Anangu land was incredible.
It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience and not only did I get to visit some amazing sights but I also learnt about Aboriginal culture by travelling and sharing stories with the group. It’s hard to put down in words, but I will do my best to share with you what the experience was like.
Let me start by introducing you to the staff who joined this trip and made it one to remember. Some of the nicknames created by staff & students:
Llew – “Ya big Waverly”
Waverly – “Ya Big Llewelyn”
Al – “Moscow Mule”
Garry – “Ya Big Garry” / "Ya Big Walk" & many others!
Alex – “it’s all Gucci”
Nadia – “Rio de Janeiro”
Kylie – “Sleepless in Seattle”
Over the week, we travelled in 2 “troopies” and 2 Toyota Prados with 3 trailers carrying our kitchen, food, water, beds, bags and firewood.
Every morning, we packed up our campsite onto the trailers and cars and headed off for new adventures and learning. Each car was filled with a mix of girls and staff and we were able to talk and share stories as we drove.
Mparntwe / Alice Springs Flying into Alice Springs we could see the “Red Centre” from the sky. Amazing landscapes and unique views are abundant in this region. They are unique to any other part of Australia.
So, we arrived and spent the day getting to know each other. In the afternoon, we walked up to top of ANZAC Hill where we had views of Alice Springs. We then headed into town to see the centre of Alice and then in the evening we went to the Beanie Festival.
That night was the first night we all slept under the stars in swags. Do you know what a swag is??
A swag is a canvas with a mattress inside. This is what you sleep in when you go on the camping tours to Uluru and King’s Canyon. They’re quite warm and they’re also waterproof. It zips all the way up so it covers your head, and you have this for a rain cover.
After having breakfast & packing up camp, we hopped into the cars and drove to Simpsons Gap for a short walk in the morning before driving on to Ormiston Gorge.
Simpsons Gap was a stunning place to take some photos!
🌴 Our next stop was Kwartatuma / Ormiston Gorge
On arrival, we set up camp in Ormiston Gorge and then we went for a beautiful hike through a riverbed and up to the lookout. The views were amazing – the photos speak for themselves!
In the evening, all of us (girls and staff) sat around the camp fire and told “yarns” (Aussie slang for stories). I was particularly interested hearing from the girls about where they came from and how life was for them in boarding school.
🥨 Ntaria / Hermannsburg After driving over the dirt roads for a few hours, we visited the historical town of Hermannsburg which was a Lutheran Mission. Whilst the history of the missions in Australia is quite sad, this mission was different to many others and Aboriginal people were protected here. We walked around the “old mission” which has now been converted to a museum and café.
After that, we played football on the Hermannsburg footy field!! Not a blade of grass in sight!
In the afternoon, we drove to Palm Valley to set up camp.
🌴 Pmolankinya / Palm Valley After setting up, we went for a beautiful walk through Palm Valley along the creek bed. Once we returned, Nadia one of the Student Support Officers taught us how to weave. It is a traditional form of craft where we turn grass into bowls, baskets, jewlery etc. There are different styles and it’s not as easy as it looks!!
As it was the 1st July (the only day fireworks are allowed to be let off in NT), we could create our own firework show!! After dinner, we went for a drive to a safe place to let off the fireworks and off we went! BANG BANG BANG!! This was quite exciting for the girls and we were even joined by the local rangers and police who also let off their own fireworks!