January 15/16 – Thunderbird Park

Yesterday we arrived at the Thunder Bird hotel, where we would participate in a traditional aboriginal ceremony. Preparing for this ceremony was certainly no easy task and required us to work hard for both days. Luckily with the guidance of our aboriginal guides Mark and Douglas and his family, we managed to be ready in time. 


During our travel day yesterday we arrived to the hotel where we were greeted by a massive pile of sand that needed spreading. At first we were unsure why we were shovelling sand for an hour, but we soon learned we were building our stage for tomorrow. Today the real preparations began. We started the day by using rocks as hammers to crush ochre into a consistency of sand. This soft white rock would be mixed with water later into a paste that we would use as full body war paint. The boys and girls were then separated to experience the differences in tradition. The boys spent the day cutting kangaroo pelts to make belts, painting our cloth that we would wear with the ochre paint, chopping branches and sanding them with sandstone to make instruments. Never have we wanted a sander more in our entire life after hours of this. Finally we spent hours learning the 3 song and dances we were to perform at the ceremony. Once again we found ourselves in a workout and having fun doing it. The boys were told repetitively throughout the day that this ceremony should show our strength and the dances should impress the girls, which we obviously did. Unfortunately, it is tradition to keep the girls day of initiation a secret and so I can not share their activities. 


By 8 PM we were ready to start the ceremony.  Everyone was painted and dressed for the occasion and we additionally carried spears, torches and instruments. We performed the ceremony under the stars for an hour and it was a truly awesome experience. We danced, sung and laughed as Douglas spoke in his native tongue. It was really amazing to see all the work we did come together to something so memorable.

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