Bush holidays

17 July 2015
Like the rest of Australia the school holidays in Wadeye are keenly anticipated. Out here they call the mid-year break “bush holidays” and large numbers of families use the time to head back to country.
Heading to the creek for a fish
Click to View Images

Senior Constable Mat Cram, Community Enagement Police Officer

That’s not to say that, Wadeye is a ghost town, there are still kids that stay with families in town and need to be occupied. As the old saying goes” idle hands are the devils playground”. Over the holidays, Wadeye has its own ‘Bush Holiday Program’ planned for the kids by the Youth Services Coordination Group.

This is to get the kids out being active in a positive way while having fun and learning at the same time. In this first week of Holidays the kids have had arts and culture, bush tucker trips, fishing trips and a movie night. I was able to help out with the fishing trips by supplying the hand lines hooks and sinkers for the day. With permission from the local Traditional Owner, it was on the buses and off to the beach with the kids. With the help of the local Remote School Attendance Strategy Team (known as yellow shirts) handlines were sorted and readied, bait was handed out and off to the beach we went. Well that’s what I thought anyway…

No, the local knowledge came into play and it was not off down the beach, but along it, to a creek that was at the end. Then it was a furious activity of whirling handline and into the fish. The yells and calls of delight echo along the mangrove lined creek with happy and smiling faces as the kids got down to the serious business of fishing.  

A nice haul of bream and cod was caught with the odd finger mark and archer fish thrown in. Over the first hour was when most of the fish were caught by the kids. As the tide moved out of the mangroves it exposed a shallow sandy bottom with about a foot of clear water running through to the beach for about half a mile. Well not much to catch there I thought, but again I was wrong. Up came one of the girls with a smile that would split a water melon proudly showing off her catch, one large and juicy mud crab from where I thought there was nothing. Bush tucker man I am not!

As the fishing slowed down the kids made their own fun and into the creek for a swim they went. The kids knew where to swim, well away from where any crocs might try and sneak up on them. While this was happening, some of the ladies went off collecting long bums (a molluscs Telescopium telescopium) which are cooked in the coals and eaten. I’m told they are very good for your health, but I couldn’t get past that it looks like snot with an off green colour. The catch for the day was taken back into town and from all reports were eaten with glee by the families. As I didn’t catch anything, it was a sandwich for dinner for me but a great day out with the great kids form Wadeye.