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During mid-to-late summer in 2009 my two daughters, Melanie, then 23 and Penny, then 21 were killed by the Black Saturday fires that swept through Kinglake in Victoria. Many lives were lost that day, and much property was destroyed. My own life, and the lives of my wider family, were terribly affected.

While visiting Pukatja on the first occasion after my bereavement, Rev. Peter Nyaningu began speaking to me of his own dreams to communicate with today's young people and with young people as yet unborn. 

This project, Beyond The Dreaming, had its genesis during those precious times with Cooky Nyaningu as we sat beneath the elders' tree at Pukatja. It's the first project I've been able to commit to and make progress in, since losing my own dear girls. 


During the earlier months of 2012 I journeyed with a friend in hospital whose life was gradually overtaken by cancer. My own parents had both experienced protracted deaths, so I wasn't breaking new ground in travelling this recent path with Terry. But whereas my parents had been at peace, Terry was not.

The monkey had been on his back for many years, and his awareness of how destructive he'd been to people he actually cared about very much made his readiness to die really difficult.

Terry's literary, philosophical and artistic depth was for me a welcome departure from shallow reigning pop cultures, from modern pre-occupations with individuality and from ever-diminishing concentration spans. In one of our sessions we discussed this statement from Isaac Asimov, "The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom," which inspired me to use that quote elsewhere on this website.

As we sat, and over hundreds of hours teased out some of life's more challenging dilemmas, the question of meaning in life arose again and again. Most paramount were the recurring topics of faith, grace and community. Terry had been a staunch advocate for Aboriginal rights and though his own means had been slender, I'd known that for many years his home had been open to many folk in need.

So while my practical preparations for departure to visit and sit with my elders were temporarily slowed almost to a crawl, time unfolded Terry's contribution in a way I couldn't better have asked for by identifying further questions for me to pursue, and in helping me identify meaning within art and aesthetic media.

Terry's death early on Friday May 4th 2012 was sudden, though we'd been expecting it for months. His determination to remain focussed was quite disarming. He was grateful for every minute he could spend with friends and made sure all who sat with him knew we were loved. I miss him, and our discussions, terribly.

Modern communication's pretty good when it's working so I put a call through to a Homeland in Arnhem Land where Jamie Nyaningu had told me (Kunmanara) Nyaningu was staying. Within two minutes he was on the phone! He's on his way to a leaders' conference at Nungalinya College in Darwin via Galiwin'ku (Elcho Island) and Yurruwi (Milingimbi Island).

Nyaningu had collapsed at this same conference this time last year (2011) and after assessment at Darwin's Casuarina Hospital was flown to Adelaide Hospital for heart surgery. He made a good recovery and is feeling strong and well this year. In fact he's made some great journal notes during his morning contemplations and is looking forward to filming. We'll learn in the next few days when he expects to be back in Pukatja. 

This allows just a little more time to prepare. I've nearly finished a complete re-arrangement of the equipment section in the back of the Land Rover with some of the heaviest items now firmly fixed to a slide out platform. All the cooking, crockery & cutlery gear is now in one roll-out unit. This almost eliminates back strain in locating and accessing whatever gear we need at a given time. 

Because we now have more electronic equipment to run and re-charge some extra power outlets have been installed inside the back of the car - and the car's dead AM-FM radio has been swapped for one which works, from Brouss's old red car!

e- bn

    Ngunanti posting an update
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