it happens every easter.
Every Easter for the past 13 years. And we don’t really want to stop.
We do it because we believe in seeing the world from a different perspective. Because we believe that all young people are passionate at heart, and are able to change. Because we believe that reconciliation is possible, and sometimes all we need in order to change is to do one thing that we’ve never done before.
So every Easter Fusion Australia, together with Schools in Harmony, puts together one of our boldest and most challenging programs. It’s also one of our most life-changing.
Our last leg together as a group and we board the bus at Norseman after sleeping in the community church.
The feeling is excited but sombre. The pilgrims are still buzzing. We travel about 30 km out of Norseman and a wheel on the trailer was completely ripped off and the the trailer was dragged on the axle. With some temporary fix by our awesome bus drivers and Dude we limped back to Norseman. The mechanics then set about with repairs while the pilgrims walked to a nearby shady park. We had fun on play equipment, kicking the footy, grass wrestling Jordan and a feisty game of duck, duck goose!
Jocelyn feed us on chocolate cake and cordial. Some of our more athletic pilgrims flipped, cart wheeled and performed other various aerial acrobatics on the soft grass!
Once back on the bus we resumed the morning routine of rest time, bus aerobics and reclaiming lost property. Today we then added a dance party on the bus. It was eclectic as Dude DJ’d the party. Smiles all round!
We ended our final day on the bus with a time of affirmation of each pilgrim and wow, this was absolutely filled with positive encouragements for each person. Such a special beautiful time.
Arriving Perth at 8pm in darkness to family, that were happy to see there members that had been away, was also very special. Ellenbrook and some Strathalbyn pilgrims went home to their own beds and family.
It was a teary farewell for the pilgrims and leaders. The bus with our Fusion leaders and Ephraim pulled away and the Strathalbyn pilgrims settled down for dinner and a sleep out at Ellenbrook Christian College. The gym mats made a comfy bed after our previous paper thin mattresses.
Our pilgrimage was over and now we look back with great memories and go forward with changed hearts. We hope and pray to make a positive influence on our future. Thanks Fusion and all others who have added to our knowledge and experiences.
Know the past to change the future!
The regional NSW bus whilst quiet on the blog have certainly been having an action packed time! We arrived home last night, and loved sleeping in our own beds again. Ahhhh.
We finish off today at a school in Ceduna and are so greatful to these wonderful folk for a safe classroom to sleep in and showers to freshen up in. Today was s big bus day with resting, reading , bus aerobics lead by our fearsome leader Steph as she took us through some koala dreaming moves, it was intense and lead into a dance party on the bus. So much fun!
Some fun games with Jordan and some sleep!
Some lunch at Port Augusta with some great views.
A sacred time where pilgrims discussed sitting on the fence or helping to bring understanding and love to a situations of conflict.
We had to stop just outside of Ceduna with fuel problems on the bus. Andrew from Ceduna rescued us by bringing diesel to refill the bus and get us to town.
Pizza was bought and the pilgrims were pleased to partake in the delicious offerings. It also gave Jocelyn our cook some time off.
Games and stacks on to finish the night and to bed for our next big day of travel.
Norseman is where we rest our head tonight after a long day on the bus. Rest time was gooooood and most people were out to it! It never ceases to amaze me how people sleep on a bus in various positions. We traveled round Australia with Jo today for our bus aerobics and the cane toad of Queensland was interesting to do.
Stephanie showed us a hard hitting documentary called New Generation and the pilgrims could once again contemplate how we can know the past to change the future. There was some good discussion about how even in our time there is laws that bias one particular cultural groups. This lead onto a challenge about how we can act as ambassadors for justice.
Then after another amazing dinner from Jocelyn we had a foot washing ceremony that made us reflect on how Jesus washes the disciples feet as a sign of servanthood. Pilgrims were given the opportunity to wash feet and to have their feet washed. This was an intimate moment for some pilgrims!
Looking ahead now to our last day.
Pilgrims from all over Australia spent a profound afternoon running a festival for the Anangu of Mutitjulu.
Playing games with children, face painting, sharing a some tucker from the BBQ and using a huge slip and slide to cool down.
Maybe language is a barrier, maybe cultures are different, maybe we live very different lives from the Anangu. One thing is for certain, today we are together and there’s life, in this kind of life it is impossible not to appreciate people.
We finish our festival with a water ceremony. This ceremony has been created by Aboriginal people at the very beginning of the Pilgrimage story 17 years ago. They tell stories of non-aboriginal people dying from dehydration when they first came to the desert. The Aboriginal people showed them where the water was and they survived. Sadly, it wasn’t long before non-aboriginal people fenced off the waterholes for the use of farming and shot any First Nations person who tried to drink that water. Worst still they even poisoned some waterholes, as a result First Nation’s people died.
Today at the water ceremony we are offered the water again, we drink it. Now we can start again, the past does not ever have to be repeated.
A Dawn Service finished our time at Uluru. As we watch first light reach the desert, the rock, the people, we hear a story from youth worker Sophie from Sydney. Her story of finding inspiration in helping others is a call to be more like the people we have been created to be.
We leave Uluru, we are changed.
That night is spent in Marla, a pin-drop in the middle of the desert in South Australia, this time we watch the sun go down and reflect on everything we have done since getting on that bus 8 days ago.
Youth Worker Kristen leads us through an activity to help us process this experience. We have 3 white river stones each, we make a design on each one.
A stone of Joy – we have experienced so much laugher, fun, wonder.
A stone of sadness – our hearts have broken at discovering the painful past and reality that First Nations People live with.
A stone of Hope – please know, this small tribe of Pilgrims have so much hope in our hearts for our country and all the people that will live here into the future.
Miles 16, made a sadness stone that represents segregation, that black and white would not know each other brings a deep sadness. His Joy stone is created by using Anangu pictures that signify people sitting together around a campfire, with other people joining. These people are all different colours and we are together. Mile’s Joy Stone is also one of Hope.
Here are some photos from our time at Yulara and Uluru over the weekend!
Arriving at Yulara, and placing our hand prints on the banner, signifying our coming in peace.
Visiting Uluru, and doing the Mali Walk.
Reflecting in Kantju Gorge.
Singing with Johnsy and the Basecamp team in the Big Top.
Now we are here, with open eyes, hearts and minds. Fill us with a new perspective.
It seems so long ago that we packed our bags to head to Uluru. We haven’t yet arrived, but already we have seen a world that we never knew existed. Filled with amazing people, ancient culture and breathtaking landscape.
We leave the surreal world of Coober Pedy, our next stop Uluru NT. We take the opportunity on the bus to learn some more about current situation of life for Aboriginal Australians, we do this by watching “Our Generation” – a documentary about the Intervention, a serious political blunder that in the late 2000s that caused further devastation to Aboriginal Communities.
It is true that we are shocked, broken hearted that our mates are living with this kind of injustice. We are also Pilgrims who are ready for healing in this country we love.
Sage 14, wants to lobby her school for introducing Aboriginal studies as an option.
We arrive at Uluru prepared for something special. We were not prepared for how deeply we would be able ot hear about the Anangu stories from our guide Leroy. We discover an ancient civilization on our very doorstep that has ways of teaching, caring for land, healing and just living that we can learn so much from – are learning so much from.
We are being filled with a new hope. At Kuntju Gorge – a sacred place, we sit silently connecting, being present in all of creation. Pilgrims listening to creator God.
We don’t always see all there is to see by just looking at the surface level
Our journey took us from our friends at Dusty Feet, Port Augusta to the mining town of Coober Pedy. With two major focuses. The first focus was one that many of our Vic Pilgrims noticed without much prompting from leaders, it was the drastic contrast in the value system from the Dusty Feet Mob and Ngarrindjeri to the people in Coober Pedy who are involved in the opal mining industry.
Sage who has just turned 14 stated,“ I wonder what the traditional owners think about all the mining and digging for something like jewellery”. We think this is an amazing reflection for a 14 year old, and we know that so often we are captivated by our consumer focused society, rarely do we ever pause to consider who has been affected by what we are benefiting from. Imagine what the world would be like if we did stop to consider and how our choices are impacting the land and the people, what if we made choices that brought life?
Our other focus was Women’s Business and Men’s Business. In our gender groups we discussed the dilemma that qualities in people can too often be gender specific, for example boys should be sporty and strong and girls should be pretty and good at braiding hair. To dig deeper than these qualities we spent a special time together in our gender groups, and paired up with someone who we could affirmed by making them a special bead out of clay. Each bead’s colour represented unique personal qualities.
Ned was given a Grey bead which represented Kind, Caring, Positive, Cheerful and Ned made a White bead for Jamie which represented Peaceful, Gentle, Supportive, Calm.
Jake 15, found the time very special: It was good to find out that I’m not the obly one going through hard times – I found it encouraging to see my colour was blue – Supportive, Composed, Nurturing, Caring.
Up with the birds again and this time it was a rooster that just loved the sound of his own crow! Thanks Mr Rooster. Pack up tents, breakfast with some funny stories about tent antics and board the bus to Warburton. Bus aerobics was particularly stretchy as Soku and Sophie lead us through the mezmerising moves! You guys rock!
Jordan introduced more great bus games, and Chinese whispers certainly lived up to its name as tangle tales were reinterpreted! The pilgrims are coming together as a group and appreciating each other more and more, their talents, abilities and weird little ways. Stephanie has challenged us to take discussion to a deeper level and respect the space we are in and respect each others opinions in slap group time. It amazes me how 3 hours on a bus can feel like 30minutes! I think it is in no small way due to expert drivers. the desert scenes are whirring past and the landscape changes in small but distinct ways. On arrival in Warburton the welcoming sound of the gate opening to our campsite was a relief. Set up camp and then ssome shopping at the local roadhouse shop. Although a limited selection of snacks and groceries, it was enouh for a tasty snack and particularly an ice cream! And yes Kobi there is noodles!
After an amazing honey mustard chicken dish we rallied to talk about the community at Warburton. Once we had the low down we walked out with our festival gear to the local oval. A passionate and friendly Buchanan if kids who mobbed around to partake in the fun and frolicking! There was a stage set up and it was not long before a dance competition began and the moves were busted out.
The face painting took on a whole new level when Isobella a local girl took to the brush. Are teeth meant to be painted?
Stilts were popular and diablos stayed diabolical! It was terrific to connect with a local teacher, parents and all the kids with there miles of smiles. The way our pilgrims played, danced and challenged the kids in the community warmed my heart. One pilgrim put her body in the line piggy backing, giving shoulder rides and other various acrobatic antics with the local girls.
With sadness we said goodbye and the walk home was quiet but playful, some even tried blind walking, trusting others to guide them.
We set our sights on Docker River today! We were refreshed from a sleep in and no roosters but some really friendly peacocks!
The routine of rest time, bus aerobics, games and some small group time is comforting. In particular toady the song time game challenged the groups and the ‘Clackers’ took it out with help from Charles the quintessential performer and Laura the amateur opera singer! Well done Clackers. As the scenery changed to include the ranges running parallel with our travels, so too did the pilgrims attitude toward each other. They have started to gel as a group and see the little quirks of each others personality. We had a toilet and shop stop in Warakuna where we refuelled mostly with hot chips cooked fresh from the kitchen. The next stop was so exciting for some as we crossed the border into NT! We had hit the red sand!
Our journey then took us to Docker River camp ground. This place was a true outback camping experience with camp fire, bush dunny and wildlife! The imported wildlife decided to get closer to nature and have a roll in the dirt, embodiments of true red sand people!
The camp fire was popular as always and Kobi helped us search for fire wood and tended the fire throughtout the night. This was to be the focus point of story telling. First Jordan shared a little of his life. Then pilgrims, lead by Stephanie and Jessie, were given a space to share some intimate stories in their lives. It was a time with laughing, crying, anguish, joy and tears, a healing and growing time that offered a deeper understanding of our fellow Pilgrims and how God is big enough to handle the things that weight us down.
Some hot chocolate and marshmellows preceeded a restful sleep.
Sleep in, Yesssss! Beaut breakfast to start the day by the fire side, no less! All pilgrims excited to see Uluru today as we reach our goal.
Before we get there we have to negotiate some really rough road, lucky we have magnificent bus drivers in Pete and Hillsy!
Oh some excitement as we pass wild brumbies on the road, this is particularly exciting for Jessica our horsegirl.
Everyone is asleep or resting or colouring in and all is studdery with the world.
Bus aerobics just gets better and Sony and Anisi make us all fitter and allow the endorphins to be released!
Kata Tjuta came up on the horizon and just got bigger and bigger until we were able to walk along the Walpa Gorge.
Quite a welcome at Yulara as we came into the campsite, from the people at Basecamp!
Today we experienced grief, sadness, welcoming, hope, reconciliation and friendship.
Leaving Coorong was bittersweet, Auntie Ellen came to farewell us, but not before taking Pilgrims Zoe and Jade back into the museum for a last look at some special woven items and pictures. Saying goodbye to Auntie came at a cost. We look forward to see you again Auntie.
Our bus ride started with some fun and creative games – you would be amazed at the bridges you can build with just straws and sticky tape, One even include the Mona Lisa!
After lunch it was time to discover more of our country’s history. We watched Rabbit Proof Fence, devastated that beautiful children were taken from loving mothers. A sad history that still harbors deep wounds. Though watching this true story of a resilient, smart, determined 14 year old girl, Molly, who took great risks to put family first amazed us, despite our tears we could see the profound strength in individuals to care for this culture.
There is no way to describe the beauty of our evening. We arrive at Congress Church Port Augusta where the Dusty Feet Mob had spent all day preparing a cook up for us. Dusty Feet Mob is an Aboriginal dance crew birthed by a dream to connect young people with their culture – the founder Wanita is a pioneer and visionary, local elders have got around this dream and now Dusty Feet is a loving community that travel the country sharing culture through dance.
With Kangaroo tail cooked underground, Kangaroo stew and a huge spread of curries, rice, chicken, backed potatoes and more! It wasn’t long before the Queensland Pilgrims arrived too, we all hung out together playing footy, having a yarn and a feed.
With full bellies we gathered in the hall to experience the Dusty Feet Mob, each dance gave us shivers. In particular the Dance to Archie Roache’s Took the Children Away, about the stolen generation. The visual of this dance pierced our hearts.
Zoe 16 – It was such an emotional experience, especially as we had just seen Rabbit Proof Fence on the bus. Then seeing the dance, there were tears in my eyes. It was so special, it hurt and was amazing at the same time. I loved that they are not giving up.
Jamie 16 – It felt so inclusive, we were playing with kids, everyone was inviting us to join in. Even when they have been through so much, it was like a real community!
Thank you Dusty Feet – your generosity and friendship collided with the deep sorrow of hearing the history of this country, we will never be the same.