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Full Circle

Day 128: Eva Valley

Michael Palin - Full CirclePeter has a real treat in store for me today. He wants me to help him castrate dogs at an Aboriginal settlement in the Eva Valley. 'Beautiful bit of country down there,' he adds, in case I'm not already champing at the bit.

By ten o'clock we're coming down low over scrubby wattle and gum trees, interspersed with termite mounds and the occasional drifting herd of wild donkeys. Since the Land Rights Act of 1976 about half of the Northern Territory has been returned to the Aboriginals, many of whom, like the Eskimos of Alaska, live away from the cities, have their own native councils and reject the whole idea of assimilation into a predominantly white culture. The community we are heading for is called Manyallaluk, and supports one hundred and fifty Aboriginals in aluminium frame houses set amongst newly planted trees and trim green grass. It is one of the few that welcomes white visitors. It operates a tour company and there is a shop selling Aboriginal arts and crafts. There is a strict no alcohol rule here. Peter reckons it's one of the best Aboriginal settlements. I have the feeling from the way he says it that he does not rate the competition very highly.

As we bounce down on another red earth airstrip a tall man with a big saggy belly, broad shoulders and a wide smile steps out to greet us. This is Peter the headman and he's followed by half a dozen curious little boys. They show particular interest in a Wet Wipe with which I'm cleaning ink from my fingers. I hand them one each and they set to cleaning their entire bodies with great enthusiasm.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 128
  • Country/sea: Australia
  • Place: Manyallaluk
  • Book page no: 185

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