Fitzroy Crossing to Yiramalay | Kimberley Trip Part Two
Wednesday must mean it’s Fitzroy Crossing! We embark on a solid three hours drive from Halls Creek, sharing the road with caravans and road trains aplenty. More and more termite mounds stand sentinel, and I feel they’re guarding and protecting us more than those who reside within.
We call into Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency and meet with Manager Belinda Cook and catch-up on their news. Out the back the men are constructing the stretchers preparing materials for the next batch of paintings. Then we catch up with Chair Keith Andrews, Robyn Wilson and Neil Carter at Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Cultural Centre. We hear, amongst other things, of the philanthropy tour undertaken in partnership with Creative Partnerships Australia that attended the last festival, presenting an incredible experience and rare opportunity. Interestingly, Neil is a past Board Director of Country Arts WA.
The next morning we face a relatively short drive down the Great Northern Highway to Yiramalay/Wesley Studio School, but with a slight detour to the stunning Geikie Gorge National Park where we have time only for a short tramp through the bush and along the Fitzroy River. I’m surprised by the lushness of the vegetation, expecting a harsher landscape. The rock formations are impressive, being an ancient limestone barrier reef that existed in the Devonian period when the area was covered by ocean.
We wait for Gwen Knox, Meredith Bell and the Theatre Kimberley crew on the turn off to Leopold Downs Road. We drive convoy into Yiramalay Community on Leopold Downs Station where the school is situated, and where we’ll camp for two nights. The dust billowing behind the cars is thick, and through it I spot my first Brahmins. We are here at the exact right time, lucky enough to come in on the shirt tails of Theatre Kimberley. The school has invited Theatre Kimberley to undertake circus skills work with the kids. Some fabulous natural talent is clearly evident. Part of the crew are students from the National Institute Circus Arts (NICA) Melbourne, Georgia Deguara, Piri Goodman, Maya Tregonning and lecturer Andrea Ousley, who are in Broome to up-skill the Sandfly Circus kids and get some experience teaching in the regions. Georgia is a Broomite and started her circus life as a Sandfly, and is now making circus her profession.
Yiramalay/Wesley Studio School is a unique model that sits under the Wesley School Melbourne where the WA mob spends terms one and four. The Melbourne kids are also fortunate to come over and experience Kimberley culture. Yiramalay is nothing but generous with their hospitality to us. A highlight for me was being woken Friday with a spectacular dawn chorus. Saturday wasn’t so impressive, perhaps a half performance due to weekend rates!
Read the final chapter of this journey Derby to Broome| Kimberley Trip Part Three!