Just at the end of the road.
Darwin. 3,753 kilometres from Melbourne. A population of 127, 532 permanent residents. Days of low humidity, clear skies and instant sunsets contrasted with electrical storms, rolling clouds and the smell of frangipani. Basically, Darwin couldn’t have been further physically and contextually than where I would have usually spent my winter semester break in Melbourne. And thank goodness for that.
The internship placement to Artback NT: Arts Development and Touring, facilitated through the Aurora Native Title Internship Program, aims to provide assistance to research, legal, anthropology, social science staff working within Native Title Representative Bodies (NTRBs), Native Title Service Providers (NTSPs) as well as broader organisations working within Indigenous Australian not-for-profit and community group frameworks.
The opportunity to see how a not-for-profit organisation exists within Northern Territory and Indigenous Australian art, music and performance sphere was fantastic. My main role was to aid Artback NT in anyway I possibly could, this led me everywhere from frantic last minute trips to Bunnings, to working on the production team for Dance Site festival in Borroloola community, to exhibition installation for the Colours of the Country: Alice Springs Beanie festival III. The versatility of how Artback NT operates and the passionate efforts the entire team put into their projects was truly inspirational. There was a constant stream of new stories, experiences and knowledge shared through the time spent in Darwin. Subsequently, the magnitude of cultural, political and practical knowledge that I learnt through the experience was enormous.
Being in Darwin was also a gateway to the wealth of astounding country that the Northern Territory has to offer. Outside and with work, I had the chance to explore places like Litchfield and Kakadu National Parks and Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve and volunteer respectively at two Indigenous Australian dance and music festivals, Dance Site in Borroloola and Walking with Spirits in Beswick. Even coming from a background of camping and hiking, the experience of sleeping in a swag, that had been on the road for who knows how many Artback NT tours, under the infinite night sky by a waterfall in Beswick eclipsed anything experienced before. My internship also overlapped with the exciting Darwin dry season festivities; lots of music gigs, theatre productions, art exhibitions and public workshop programs.
The experience of interning through the Aurora Project is incredibly worthwhile for those interested in social justice, native title and Indigenous Australian affairs. It has broadened my understandings of the complexity of Indigenous Australian’s lived realities and culture whilst enabling me to actively engage and be involved in meaningful work. For those students and graduates who are grappling with the complexities of often distanced academic knowledge learnt in your university institution, I couldn’t recommend this Program more. Importantly, it enabled me to make connections with individuals and communities that have heightened my understandings of what I thought I knew and what I could adapt to, helping me develop more clear ideas of where I could live and work once graduating.