Thursday, August 07, 2014

hope vale: hot chips, fresh fish and healing

Two weeks ago I logged off here and we headed to Hope Vale, a remote Aboriginal community 46kms north-west of Cairns.

The plan was to stay about six days, but as I explain regularly to River and Sol on this trip, plans change. Especially on the road.

Six days in Hope Vale turned into twelve. And in one week we will be going back for more. There was a timelessness as days rolled into nights and we settled into the home of our friends Uncle Des and Aunty Estelle Bowen getting to know their family and community.

The kettle never stopped boiling. I drank more cups of tea in twelve days than I have my 39 years. I loved every cup because with tea comes a yarn, seemingly endless yarns, at the kitchen table or around a campfire. (For readers wondering why you would have yarn with tea, in this instance yarn is another word for story not wool!)

A deep friendship was born between our families or as Aunty Estelle said to my mother-in-law on the phone one morning “they family now”.

Uncle Des and Aunty Estelle are such beautiful people. Their strength, humility, pride and commitment to their family and community inspire me greatly.

It is hard for me to find precisely the right words to paint a picture of life in Hope Vale to you. 
There is so much to say. This post is a beginning.

Adventures to local beaches to catch fish and mudcrabs happened every couple of days. Despite the heat there was no swimming of course because the waterways here are home to crocodiles.

(Aunty Estelle fishing with a handline, her great great grandaughter playing by her side)

While the fresh seafood was wonderful, the dominant diet in the community is white bread, hot chips, ice cream, weet bix, sweet biscuits, soft drink, cordial and convenience food bought from the small supermarket/convenience store.

Kids not eating enough nutritious food is not unique to Hope Vale of course, what is unique is the remoteness which limits access to top quality fresh produce and also that before the introduction of sugar, salt and grain based diet Indigenous people lived with health and strength on a natural diet.

If you are interested in the work my husband Pete is doing with Elders you can read more about it at Culture is Life and Be Part of the Healing.

We are back in Mossman for a week where I have internet access so I will post more soon. 

Thanks for reading! x


  1. Sounds amazing, Nikki! Kellie xx

    1. Indeed it is Kellie. I am already though looking ahead to our drive south maybe we can catch you again at Bondi farmers xx

  2. Wow what a post and what an amazing and incredibly special connection that you all had. big love to all, xx jay


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