We made it! You may have noticed our blog posts were a little quiet for a while there, that’s because we had two full days with little to no phone reception and contact with the outside world. Our 7am departure from Tjukayirla didn’t go exactly as planned, but when the call came through at 10am, a full 24 hours after we’d arrived, that the road was finally open again, it was no more than 20 minutes later that we found ourselves back on the bus, bags packed, tents down, settled in and ready to go – a Pilgrimage record!
It was a long day on the bus, and the first time the sun had made its way below the horizon before we arrived at our evening location. We were met at the old Goongarrie Homestead by our friends and brothers, Linden, Trevor and Kyle from Bush Ghoodhu Wongutha Tours. There was a wild whirlwind of setting up sleeping arrangements, preparing a late dinner, lighting a fire and the necessary running around, talking, laughing and screaming that was required to wear away some of our cabin fever. But by 8pm we all sat around the fire, well-fed on another Jocelyn & Aden feast – complemented by a pot of kangaroo stew and 2 slabs of damper – listening to our brothers share some of their story with us.
It is always an honour and a joy to connect with our mates from Bush Ghoodhu who share their heart and culture and faith so generously and leave our Pilgrims feeling part of a bigger story – a family and a culture they didn’t even know they were part of. We took a walk through the bush by the moonlight, where Linden pointed out gnamma holes and honey-ant nests and which trees were good for making boomerangs, and which had the right kind of root for shaping spears. It was such a special time, our pilgrims were willing to sacrifice the small amount of sleep they’d be getting to spend more time soaking up the knowledge, insight and compassion our brothers had to share.
Our last day on the bus was a celebratory affair, not without a constant twinge of sadness. Final bus aerobics, final bus games, the final time our Koala, Clive Palmer, was raced down the bus at record speed.
Our final name and reclaim, final small group space, final bush-wee stop and, finally, goodbye. We listed a whole lot of the memories that had made our trip so unforgettable and so completely life-changing – from Yeet Baby to the hat funeral, to the time Lily pulled Sam out of her tent by the sleeping bag.
We remembered how we’d felt passing these same landmarks while travelling in the opposite direction, some 11-days earlier; nervous, shy, unsure, uncomfortable… And compared those with how we were feeling now; connected, known, valued, celebrated, seen and accepted – our best selves. We’re going to have a hard time explaining to you all what this trip really meant to us, but please don’t let that stop you from trying to understand. You really do have to be part of this trip to truly know it’s power, but we want you to be included in this story and can’t wait to share with you even just a sliver of its significance. So ask our pilgrims – what did this trip mean to you? What will be different for you now? And what would you love the world to know about how you’ve changed and grown from the inside out?