Derby was confronting for me. I cried when we went to the Old Derby Jail to see first-hand the inhumane way the traditional owners of this land were treated by our governments and the early settlers. It was harrowing. I also finished reading the book about Jandamarra and the Bunuba resistance while here so knowing that many of the places we were travelling to were the sites of massacres and killings was sobering.
Up in this north-west corner of Australia there is no denying our atrocious history or the fact that we live in an Aboriginal Australia. We saw even more Aboriginal people in Derby than we’d seen in Broome. We’d been told by a few people that the town isn’t much to look at but it’s got a great community spirit.
One of the highlights was going to the Mowanjum art centre and looking at the local art and watching a video that explains the connection between land, the Wandjina spirits, and their painting and songs. It was interesting to then hear Isobel explaining all that she’d understood to one of her grandmothers – these kids are getting quite an education.