This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.

2002 Travels August 30 – September 5

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OUR TIME AT DOOMADGEE

Friday 30 August – Thursday 5 September

We did not go out of the community to stay, this weekend, but pottered about at home instead.

We went for a drive on Sunday, back across the river ford, then back south, down the track we’d come in on. After a little way on this, branched left. We knew there was an alternate route towards Lawn Hill, that crossed the Lawn Hill Creek at a ford, and wanted to see if we could find this. I am not sure that we did, but we found some creeks, and it was pleasant, exploring a little.

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The Doomadgee area

In the late Sunday afternoon, went to a BBQ, along with other staff, at the Principal’s place. I had to take something, from our limited stocks. Made a carrot cake, and even managed to ice it – I’d had some icing sugar in the bus stocks. Too much to hope for that I could get cream cheese at the store. It was enjoyable to have a social occasion – and even more enjoyable to eat meat (they visited Mt Isa regularly enough to have stocks of same in the freezer).

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Doomadgee dusk

 

The visiting chef program came to school this week. She was at the school for two days – commuting from Burketown, of course. She was a very energetic lady. She worked with my VET girls, and a few of the secondary boys who had been selected as a reward for good behaviour. They would work with her for two full days.

The idea apparently was that such a program would show students what work in a commercial kitchen was like and maybe enthuse them for same. It might have been applicable in schools where the local community had such things – and some prospect of employment in same. But in a place like Doom, I fear it was an activity without much point to the students. However, it was a novelty in what passed for a routine up here.

She was to work with them to produce a buffet lunch, to which the community elders would be invited. Fortunately, she had ordered her supplies well in advance, and they had come on the weekly truck and were waiting for her. She brought some equipment with her – like a pasta maker – but was somewhat limited, like me, by lack of general equipment. Welcome to my world!

She made a work plan, just like in a restaurant. She certainly did get the students working, but with no real understanding of what they were doing. There was not time enough for that – and she just talked at them. But they worked well enough through the first day. On the second day, the various dishes (e.g. spag bol, fried rice, iced cakes), came together, though the whirlwind that was the chef did most of the work.

Word had supposedly gone home to the elders on the first night, and about 10 actually turned up for lunch. They seemed rather bemused by it all.

After a big cleanup, it was all over and chef departed for her next gig – Mornington Island.

John was asked to take the feral boys’ group for part of a day, to free the two men who usually took them for some curriculum consultation with the DP. He had a torrid time! They were to be taken in the school’s Coaster bus, to the area where a rodeo ground was being built, and were to get some practical work experience by helping there. They did not take well to the idea of any work! John tried to get them shifting some lengths of metal, but after a few steps one or other would drop their end – usually without any warning to the one on the other end. “Too heavy mister”.

An elderly man was driven into the work area by a younger one, who was very solidly built. The elder asked who John was. Then he said that one of the boys had his smokes. The rather weedy student denied it, whereupon the other boys hoisted him upside down by the ankles – and the smokes and lighter fell out of his pocket. They were returned to the elder. The solid man angrily informed the boy that, when he got home that night, solid man was going to kick him in the nuts! John decided retreat was in order, and quickly ushered the boys back onto the bus to make their escape – while the boys made rude gestures out of the bus windows at the men! When they got back to school, it was too early for big lunch, so John took them to the oval. They refused to do any sport, but danced what they said was a corroboree, in a tight ring around him. He felt rather threatened by this, but held his ground.

After lunch, he had to take them back to the rodeo ground. Some inspector type from Mt Isa was at the school and had to go along. He spent the whole time with his head buried under his arms, cringing – fear? Horror? Carting that lot around was like transporting a bus full of evil monkeys.

When they got back to the school again, John pulled the bus up close to one of the walkway stanchions. Before he could turn off the engine, one of the boys shoved the lever back into gear – and the bus jumped forward into the pole!

I had been experiencing some issues where a patch of skin on the inside of one ankle had gradually become white, over some period of time. Hitherto trouble free, it had now become very itchy. I thought it was probably from fleas in the tatty carpeting that covered most classroom floors, but thought I might be able to get something to alleviate the itching, if I saw a doctor. So off I went to the hospital, after school. I drew the African doctor, who was very hard to understand. He was determined to do a blood test on me – for HIV! He was not all that interested in the leg and offered no diagnosis, nor medication. I told him my blood was hard to draw. He was determined, though. After some 20 minutes of him trying assorted places, and getting a very slow flow from one, I was on the verge of passing out. I was less than impressed with the whole episode. Never did bother going back for the test result!

The new tyre John ordered from Mt Isa finally arrived and he got it fitted at the works depot, then at home put the wheel with new tyre onto Truck.

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John changing the wheel on Truck. The party house is behind him.

The party house was particularly noisy this week. Loud bouts of yelling and swearing late at night – from both women and men. The language and some of the suggestions about what they could do to each other were definitely not printable!

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