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Finding Cheryl.. But first!!

Barcaldine did not let us down..,

sunny 25 °C

Some of the findings and facts we discovered while we waited for Cheryl in Barcy:

  • it's quite easy to kill our Coat of Arms especially on quiet, narrow roads on dusk - we nearly sent a couple of skippies to heaven prematurely, the emus were a bit further off the track!
  • Skippies are only worth $10.00 per scalp to the local Council, whereas wild dogs and dingoes are up to $35. A wild cat scalp only brings in about 60c.. hardly worth the bullet!
  • It was once thought that there are more wild cats in Australia than people but, you'll be pleased to know that there are only about 2 million!
  • The roads outback would be empty except for Grey Nomads and road trains

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  • There seems to be a 'set of rules' for being a bonafide Grey Nomad: a caravan (better if you have those expandable types) must be pulled by a big to very big 4WD with lots of extra tyres, water containers, and, most important, a massive bull bar. Both bodies in the vehicle must be middle to old aged and there must be one of each sex. The male, of course should be the driver. (Jen & I fail on all counts but we love our rig!)
  • PS TO Barcaldine - we counted 94 Grey Nomad rigs in a 4 hr drive from Barcaldine to Morven... imagine the number on some of the more populated roads!!
  • Without the water from the Amazing Artesian Basin much of the inland would be completely uninhabitable.. so many towns only survive because of those bores sunk into that life source (Barcaldine is only one of them!)
  • The Great Dividing Range is NOT the range that hugs the east coast of Australia but the range that separates which way the water flows: east to the coast, west to Lake Eyre system.. we found bits of the Great Divide as far west as Jericho and Tambo!!
  • We have discovered Ed Sheeran..

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First a bit of background...

Cheryl and her sister, Suzanne are part of the Iningai Aboriginal tribe: 'Their territory includes west of the dividing range to Longreach; south along the Alice River, north to Aramac and Muttaburra. The Iningai were one of the largest Aboriginal tribes in the central west and were said to be a very tall people, some well over six feet tall.'

Their grandparents bought some land nearly 100 years ago from the white establishment in Barcaldine where Cheryl grew up and now lives (crazy, hey.. considering these people belong to the land for over 15000 years!) Jen & I met Cheryl when she came to teach at Wondall Heights SS nearly 20 years ago. In 2014, Cheryl and her two youngest children moved back to 'country' and she has built up a very successful cafe called Ridgee Didge. It is right on the main highway through town.
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Another vision she had was to establish a hostel for disadvantaged Aboriginal kids from remote communities where all the kids know is violence, substance abuse, neglect and very little hope of getting out of the cycle. After two and a half years the Alice River Abiriginal Hostel is up and running with 24 teenagers living in 3 dongas around her family home. The students get Abstudy which pays for their uniforms, food and some extras but there is a huge shortfall. At the moment, Cheryl is footing most of the extra bills. This is where Jen & I thought we could maybe give a bit of a hand. Once we find Cheryl, we'll know more!!
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Finding Cheryl's sister, Suzanne.. what a woman..

Cheryl's sister, Suzanne came back to 'country' about the same time as Cheryl did. Both women are passionate about who they are and want to make a difference in this community. Let me report that they are well on their way. Suzanne has been working on developing some cultural day tours and a Women's Spiritual Retreat. We were invited to 'try out' one of the day tours with the aim of taking some photos for a website and act as a sounding board for the concepts she is developing.
We were blown away by this rare experience we engaged in. We can't fully describe the day, the photos may help but we came back knowing that we had been privee to a deeply spiritual encounter with sacred sites, ceremonies, bush medicines and a woman who has deep connections to her ancestors who belong to this land.
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Finding Cheryl..

We arrived back in town around 5pm, had a look at Suzanne's Art Gallery Shop (she is an excellent artist), and sat down at her husband's Laughing Emu Pizza Cafe (he's English, she's aboriginal, they have a Pizza Shop!!)
What should drive past but Cheryl's bus.. and Cheryl driving it! We had pizza together, talked about what she is dreaming and how we can help then had to go home to bed because she had driven 12 hours straight from Brisbane that day and was getting up at 4am the next morning to drive 12 students back to Lake Nash for a family funeral. Lake Nash is in the Northern Territory (a 17 hour drive without stops!!) Why can't anyone else drive the bus, you say? (So did we!) Because Cheryl is the only one that community knows and trusts. She is the one who flies out there to collect the kids at the beginning of the term and safely returns them for holidays. She is a dynamo and we feel honoured to have had an insight into both these women's lives.
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Helping.. and home...

Being 'little helpers', both Jen & I went out to ask the question: How can we help? What can we do? What do they need most?
Well, we have a dozen or more practical ways that we, and our friends and family, can get involved. Let that be the subject of our next Blog. We are home safe and sound having travelled over 2500 kms but the washing, the cleaning of the amazing car, the sorting ourselves out awaits...

Posted by TravellingLight 23:58 Archived in Australia

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