Another Side of Aussie Life- The Outback!

Excerpt from Ashley Legget’s personal blog “Dear Australia“  Ashley is a spring 2015 ASC student from Messiah College. Reproduced with permission.

Here’s just a small taste of my time in The Outback!

As many of you know, I am spending my semester in a flourishing city in Australia; Brisbane. Again, as many of you know, I am definitely not a city girl, I have a heart for open spaces, landscapes, and quiet… and that’s exactly what I got this past weekend. We left Thursday morning at 4:30am for a 12 hour drive into The Outback. I pulled an all-nighter that way I could sleep most of the time on the bus. We arrived at Tyrone Station in the afternoon/evening time, only too arrive to immense beauty, vivid red dirt, and wide open spaces… oh and some cows! We were welcomed by Grace, who lives on the station, and started the 4 day trip into the life of Grace. Living in The Outback takes perseverance, hope, determination, and a love for hard work. We arrived as the sun was setting, and I was able to watch one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve ever seen. Dinner starts when the sun goes down, so we all headed back in for some of Grace’s home cooking… which made me feel at home. Obviously we were exhausted, so we dragged the mattresses outside underneath of the stars to try to fall asleep. The view was so breathtaking I struggled to fall asleep under the crystal clear sky, the view of the Milky Way Galaxy, and several shooting starts, it was truly a work of art.

This is a picture from the exact spot we were sleeping! Pictures will never do it justice, but here’s a small glimpse of the beauty.

This is a picture from the exact spot we were sleeping! Pictures will never do it justice, but here’s a small glimpse of the beauty.

The next day we set out for a tour and some work! We rode around in the back of some trucks along the 60 square miles of property and did some small work projects such as cutting down some trees, fixing some fences, and filling some pot holes. We then drove back for some well deserved lunch! After lunch we headed out to the river to do some swimming. Now, as a side note, our whole group decided to do a no shower challenge, so we were already sweaty and covered in the rust colored dust… then we basically swam in mud. We stayed there for a while and had some really good fellowship as we jumped in and out of the water! Finally we headed back for dinner, and spent the rest of the evening getting to know each other and experiencing the true beauty of The Outback. Each evening we spent some time sharing three things about ourselves, some deep, some funny, and some exciting… it was a wonderful exercise to get closer to this wonderful group I am blessed to spend time with! Again, we were able to sleep under the beauty of the night sky with no light pollution. A funny story, we found this creepy looking baby doll mixed in with all of our stuff. No one knew where it came from, so obviously Dana and I had to prank a few people by placing it in their sleeping bags and such. It was successful I must say.

A perfect depiction of the beauty of the red dusty dirt of the Outback.

A perfect depiction of the beauty of the red dusty dirt of the Outback.

Dirt roads for miles!

Dirt roads for miles!

The next morning we ate some breakfast to give us some energy for our next mission; tearing down an old fence. I proved my skills as an independent, very capable, young women! After that fun project we had some free time. Myself and a few others spent some time hanging out with baby Claire and her older brother and sister. Claire is the daughter of one of the men working on the cows that day. After they mustered all of the cows, we got to watch and learn how to check the females for babies, pierce their noses (to ween them away from their mothers), brand them, and other small things. It was a great look into the life of these people. After that we headed to The Cliffs, which border Grace’s and their neighbors property. It was an absolutely stunning view! We had some reflection time, then took a beautiful walk and got some wonderful pictures. As the sun started to set, we headed back to the main area to get some dinner. We had a campfire, and spent some more time talking among each other and hearing some incredible stories. We also had the privilege of listening to Grace talk about life in The Outback. Obviously living in a desert is hard for many reasons. She is very secluded (she lives with her husband at least), and droughts take a toll on their time and their business. They raise cattle for beef, but cattle obviously need water and food. Water can be very scarce in The Outback, and with each tiny glimpse of rain, there is hope and another day of life for Grace and her family. While we were talking about this, it started to rain, which is such a beautiful thing after hearing the struggles of daily life. Grace and her family have had to cart water and food back and forth to all the cattle for 18 months because all of the watering holes dried up. Though I was sad we had to sleep under the roof, it doesn’t compare to the joy I had that there was rain in The Outback. After some quick guitar lessons I taught and jam sessions with some other friends, we headed to sleep for our last night.

We woke up at 5am, packed up, ate some hot cross buns, and headed back to Brisbane… but not after some good-byes! It was SUCH a wonderful time disconnected from busy life, and a small taste of home. I am very grateful for this cultural experience with this group of people. It’s a blessing to live life with other people.

This is some of my classmates and I at The Cliffs! We climbed down to stand under some caves!

This is some of my classmates and I at The Cliffs! We climbed down to stand under some caves!

Thanks to Grace (beside me) and Grandma (beside Grace), we felt like home in The Outback. This is our whole group.

Thanks to Grace (beside me) and Grandma (beside Grace), we felt like home in The Outback. This is our whole group.

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Excerpt from Ashley Legget’s personal blog “Dear Australia“  Ashley is a spring 2015 ASC student from Messiah College. Reproduced with permission.

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This is just one of the many beautiful views along the Gorge walk on Straddie Island.

There is way more then I can fit into a blog post to write about, so be prepared to read a novel here, arranged by bullet points:

1.) The main focus of my time in Australia is learning about the modern culture and Aboriginal culture, which has sparked a deeper passion in me for equality. For the American’s who don’t quite understand, Aboriginals are like the Native Americans of Australia, so technically the “Native Australians.” They inhabited the land, and were forced out and abused in many different ways. The thing that makes this class so close to my heart is having a true Aboriginal teacher who spends a lot of her time teaching us about her culture and the close to home problems that they faced and are still facing today. Aboriginals still do not receive the recognition, love, and rights that they deserve as the rightful “owners” of the land. Aside from seeing the true heart of Lea and experiencing a deep passion for her people, this has really sparked a general passion for equality of minorities. Whether they are separated by religious views, culture, language, sexual orientation, or enslaved by anything such as human trafficking… or really anything else, everyone deserves the same rights, respect, and a chance at life the way they decide to live. It breaks my heart to hear the stories of the oppressed.

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This is from the Art Museum a few weeks ago, but it’s taken on a whole new meaning as I continue to understand the Aboriginal culture more and more.

2.) Second, my internship is going so well. I work about 15 hours a week overall at Citipointe, doing a variety of things from administrative work, making phone calls, organizing information, connecting with youth, running a cafe, and many other random jobs. I am really getting a chance to see a whole different youth culture. It’s a large church, VERY pentecostal/charismatic, has a large body of volunteers and about 30 full time workers. I am learning a lot about myself and youth ministry. I must admit though, as I have before, I LOVE my small church and the community around a small church.

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The band is amazing, and extremely well known throughout Australia. This is the main youth event that is put on on Friday.

3.) I finished my first big assignment on the Background of the New Testament if anyone is interested in that topic… it was hard.

4.) I spent this past weekend at North Stradbroke Island, which is mainly an Aboriginal culture. We attended an opening ceremony, which included celebrate the 21st birthday of the elders! I heard many great speakers with beautiful hearts and passions for Aboriginal culture. We did so much to learn more about the culture! We each got to attend a few workshops, which included sand art (not the kind in the bottle), basket weaving (we made bracelets), spear and boomerang throwing, and Aboriginal art. Personally, I learned how to throw a spear and I made 2 keychains in the weaving workshop; it’s the same technique, you just wrap it into a circle and make a basket instead of just a small straight line! We kind of got stormed out of there, so we headed to our camp to unpack and get settled in before we headed off to an Aboriginal weapon and artifact lesson from an Aboriginal! We learned how they made all of their different weapons and learned some crazy hunting methods. We also got our faces painted like a sting ray I believe, and learned some awesome dances and took some crazy pictures (not on my camera, so check back in another time to see them!) The next day we traveled around and got to see some cool landmarks. First we saw a Midden, which is one way Aboriginals can prove how many years they have occupied a land. The midden just looked like a large hill covered in grass, but if you were to cut the hill in half you would see many layers of shells, bones, and other things that they threw in a “trash pile.” It was really cool to see the bottom layer of that! After that we went to Point Lookout, which is the most beautiful beach/gorge walk ever. There’s many pictures (thanks to the other people in my class and myself) of the view, so check them out in the Photograph tab. Then we went to Brown Lake, which is classified as “Women’s Business” where women prepared for ceremonies and gave birth. This is a sacred place. It’s called Brown lake because it’s surrounded by tea tree’s which have died the water brown and “contaminated” it with tea tree oil, which actually made the water soft and great for your skin!

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This is our Aboriginal professor Lea showing us the bottom of the Midden. The Midden is where the Aboriginal people used to throw shells, bones, etc. If you cut the hill behind her in half, you’ll see hundreds of layers, proving how long they have been on that island.

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This was the opening ceremony during the dance segment!

THE CRAZIEST THING: They drive the car ONTO the Ferry! There were like 3 coach busses and A LOT of cars on that Ferry… that made me very very nervous, but it was a beautiful boat ride to the island and back!

5.) I had a bit of a fall… and this is quite the funny story looking back on it now. I was sitting getting ready for Internship with a few friends at Rivers Cafe, which is the cafe attached to the church I am working at. The seating area is up on a platform, which you can walk up 4 or 5 steps on either side to get to. I was sitting with my back to a set of stairs when one leg of my chair when over the edge and I fell (over a matter of 5 seconds) on the chair down the stairs onto the very hard turf ground. I got entangled in the chair and now have a crazy bruise to prove for it!

6.) Australians love American accents, think were all fat and eat unhealthy, and basically every stereotype you can think of America that is negative.

7.) That is all I can think of. In general I spend a lot of time with Dana at my internship, which has been so lovely working with her. In my off time, I go out to eat with friends and take naps… but don’t worry.. I don’t typically have free time, so I am soaking up every ounce of this time.