Back Roads: Mar 12

Model Roman Mununggurr and guest presenter Rae Johnston are getting ready for the catwalk show in East Arnhem Land.

This week on Back Roads is Part 2 of the visit to East Arnhem Land, NT, by guest presenter Rae Johnston.

Back Roads heads deep into the heart of East Arnhem Land, to two remote communities: Gapuwiyak and Galiwin’ku. Rae Johnston finds the Yolngu people’s lives are deeply connected to their culture, the land and each other.

Guest presenter Rae Johnston continues her journey to East Arnhem Land and two very remote communities that people rarely get to see: Gapuwiyak and Galiwin’ku.

This is the land of the Yolngu and Rae is invited in to experience firsthand, their incredible culture that stretches back tens of thousands of years. This is a river that flows deep – where traditional law, kinship and relationship to country is everything.

Isolation has helped the Yolngu keep their culture strong. However, these days it’s getting harder to pass on this knowledge.

Rae’s first stop is Gapuwiyak. Surrounded by hundreds of kilometres of bush, this small, close-knit community has a secret weapon – creativity. Despite the lack of jobs, people here are finding inspired ways to thrive. Master weavers Lucy Wanapuyngu and her daughter Anna Malibirr take Rae out on country to collect pandanus leaves for their art. Back at the local Arts Centre Rae gets a lesson in just how hard it is to learn this ancient craft. Anna tells Rae she’s lucky, her Mum has been teaching her since she was a girl.

A short plane ride takes Rae to her next stop, the small island of Galiwin’ku or Elcho Island. Here the local school is helping teach Yolngu kids about their culture. Rae joins them for a day out to experience their Learning on Country program. Elder Marcus Lacey thinks it’s hard for kids to maintain their connection to their culture in the modern world. To motivate the class, they get students to paint themselves with ochre and perform a spectacular bunggul (or ceremony) on the beach.

Before Rae heads home she flies back to Gapuwiyak for one special night. The town gets its glamour on as the local artists’ fibre fashion hits the catwalk. It’s a night of music, song, and dance – a celebration of all things Yolngu.

8pm Tuesday on ABC.

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