Djarindjin-Lombadina remote community

Gillian and Tony on air at Goolarri Radio, BroomeThursday morning we did another media call, then checked out of the hotel and hit the supermarket, stocking up on supplies that we wouldn’t be able to buy in the remote community shops. Then we hit the road.

To get to the Dampier Peninsula drive to the outskirts of Broome, then turn left on Cape Leveque Road. This road is unsealed for most of the way, and was closed all of last week due to heavy rains (unseasonal rains – this is supposed to be the Dry Season). The road runs long and straight for kilometres at a time. Low scrub covers either side of the road.

Cape Leveque Road, out of Broome

We passed a few vehicles – this is not as remote as many other communities, and the road is quite well-trafficked. Still, I wouldn’t want to drive it every day. Thick soft red sand is the surface in some parts, and there were some sudden pot-hole surprises where the road surface had washed away. It’s not an easy drive and you can imagine it wouldn’t take much to roll your car if you weren’t familiar with the conditions, or taking things carefully.

Gum and paperbark church, LombadinaDjarindjin-Lombadina is a very pretty community. Lots of green grass and graceful, majestic white gum trees. The roads throughout the community are unsealed, and curve their way around the different dwellings. This was an old church mission, and the local church is made of paper-bark – one of the last remaining examples of its kind. It celebrated its 100-year anniversary last year.

We led a workshop on Friday morning with the senior class in the community school – students from years 7-10. It was a small group on Friday, around 8 kids, and after doing some rhythmic warm-up tasks we moved quickly onto the instruments for a jam. I’d brought a set of alto chime bars with me, and two members of the group used these to create some melodic material that acted as an ‘anchor’ for the improvisation.

School on Friday ends with a whole-school assembly, so this was the perfect chance for Tony and I to be introduced to everyone in the school. We played a short improvised duet on the clarinet and saxophone, demonstrating our instruments and the sorts of sounds they can make, as well as the idea of improvisation and creating our own music (which is the primary intention of these residencies). Then I taught a song to everyone, a spiritual that I learned quite recently. It has three parts – we learned the melody today, but I have plans to get the whole school singing in three parts by the end of our residency.

In the evening, some of the teachers from the school invited us to join them at the beach to watch the sunset. It’s a drive there over the dunes (if you look up Darindjin-Lombadina on Google maps you will see a whole lot of white stuff – that’s all the sand dunes that you have to cross to get to the beach). Sunsets are legendary in this part of the world. Every night it is an extraordinary display of colours, offset by shimmering ocean, so we joined the teachers in what appears to be a regular ritual of Friday night fishing (none of us caught anything, but it was a great way to watch the sunset) and star-gazing.

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