8 June—9 June 2002
After we had packed up and filled the petrol tank, we drove onto the nearby Warmun Aboriginal community to visit the art centre. What we thought would be a quick visit ended up taking most of the day.
Initially we took the wrong road into the community, and had to ask directions from a local who turned out to be one of the artists. The arts centre was located on the far side of a creek crossing on a hill. It was a curious green building that doubled as a residence for the curator and her husband, who was an accountant. There were hundreds of canvases stacked up against the walls and below the house. Some of the artists were at work in a large shed nearby.
The Warmun community is renowned for its art, which is painted in ochres and other natural substances that are collected on their traditional land in the Kimberley region. Susan was immediately taken by the work of Mabel Juli, and she ended up buying two of her paintings. I purchased a small painting by a younger artist called Mark Nodea. We both met each of the artists and some other members of the community. Each artist told us some of the stories behind their paintings, and Mark also showed us some paintings that he was sending to an exhibition in Melbourne.
While we were talking to the artists and the people in the gallery office, Ruby and Clare busied themselves crushing ochres in a mortar and pestle.
We walked out of there having loved every minute of our visit, and the paintings we bought that day have been part of our everyday life ever since, reminding us of the Kimberley region and its friendly and talented traditional owners.
We drove on down the Great Northern Highway for 160 km to Halls Creek. We stopped by the internet centre, where I got some important email regarding work. I also successfully sent the fax to the manager of Curtin Detention Centre regarding our planned visit. We then went to the local supermarket. The groceries were expensive and there was a limited range available, which is not unusual in remote communities. Susie baulked at the kangaroo tails in the meat section, so we settled on some Barramundi fillets. We booked ourselves into the town’s only caravan park for the night and cooked up a lovely meal of barramundi, mashed potato and salad.