We spent the next week at Yirrkala, another East Arnhem Land town. Yirrkala is on the coast and is only a 20-minute drive from Nhulunbuy on sealed roads. We found it a bit more suburban than Gapuwiyak. Some of you may have heard of Yirrkala as it has been in the news recently because this is the home of Mandawuy Yunipingu, the lead singer of Yothu Yindi. He died here 2 weeks before we arrived. There was no obvious sign of this except for a couple of closed roads. From what I have gathered when someone dies around this area, you are not to pass in front of the house. There is probably more to it but I have not asked.
The SOS Foundation, part of Back In Motion, has an association with Laynha Health, an organisation that provides healthcare to the homelands of Yirrkala, there are about 16 of these. Every week or so a health worker (nurse), and sometimes a doctor drive or fly out to the homelands and see who ever needs to be seen. Tom and I alternated days on going out with these while the other one stayed in Yirrkala with the kids. At the homelands it was a bit of a mixed bag, some were follow ups from the last time there were physios here, and then there were ‘walk ups’ on the day.
Tom went to Homelands – Birany Birany and Wandawuy, and I went to Garrathalala and Gurrumuru. All of the homelands were a bit quiet as lots of people had gone to Ramingining for a funeral, also at Gurrumuru there was a mass evacuation from the town when the bush taxi arrived taking some of the residents into Nhulunbuy to go shopping. All supplies around East Arnhem Land are bought in on a weekly barge, it has been windy lately and the barge was late coming in. It is vital to time your shopping trips, even we have discovered this.
Yirrkala is surrounded by beautiful beaches but you have to be wary of where you go because of the threat of crocodiles – the mean ones. Sam and a squashed dehydrated cane toad – the best type of cane toad.