Rodney Safstrom, November 2020
Our Ngadju Journey began nearly eight years ago when I asked Uncle Eugene Eades if he would join me in running a multi-cultural rites of passage camp for teenage boys at Nowanup. From my experience with Wadjella (white fella) teenage rites of passage work and wonderful experiences with Uncle Noel Nannup and Uncle Eugene Eades, I felt that our rites of passage work would benefit greatly from Noongar knowing.
Uncle Eugene said yes and we had 18 Noongar, Ngadju and Wadjella teenagers and 30 support leaders and men on our camp in January 2014. A wonderful and unexpected contribution came when Ngadju Elder Les Schultz, James Schultz and young James joined us. We walked, talked, crafted spears and boomerangs, fished, listened to Elders stories, shared our stories and met many personal and group challenges – an extraordinary experience.
At the end we promised to visit Ngadju country in the Norseman area. We dreamed this story for many years, and through Eugene Eades, Basil Schur, David Dyke and myself, we kept the dream alive through connecting with Uncle Les and James. There is something about seven-year intervals with men’s journeys and we had to wait seven years for the stars to align.
We, 41 Noongar and Wadjella men and women, are just back from a very special three days on Ngadju country in the Great Western Woodlands hosted by Les, Wendy, Jocelyn and James Schulz and the Ngadju Rangers.
Having Uncle Noel Nannup, Uncle Eugene Eades, our Noongar friends, together with Uncle Les and James, Wendy and Jocelyn, and the Ngadju Rangers was a moving experience. A very special reconnecting of the Noongar and Ngadju cultures – deep in ways beyond our Western understanding.
Our theme was Listening for Connecting. As Basil Schur put it “paying respect to Elders, tuning into country, and yarning. A convergence of two sciences, an affirmation of the culture of our First Nations and a focus on environmental custodianship”.
One of the outcomes is to form the Friends of Ngadju Conservation so that we can keep on supporting Ngadju cultural and conservation work on country.
Thank you to Gondwana Link for supporting the Ngadju journey event as well as Noongar and Ngadju programs.