Pipalyatjara: a journey to the desert

In 2010, a relationship began between St Aloysius College and the remote Anangu Community of Pipalyatjara. Located in the APY Lands of northern South Australia, Pipalyatjara is approximately 30 kilometres from the corner where South Australia, the Northern Territory and Western Australia meet. The driving force behind this initiative was to forge a connection and continuing relationship with this tiny, indigenous community. SAC wanted to offer service to their school and in return our students could have first-hand experiences of traditional cultural practices.

Since 2010, small groups of teachers and students have been privileged to visit Pipalyatjara to spend time with Anangu students in their classrooms, on excursions and in the immediate community. They have all returned with enduringly fond memories of their time in the desert. During the day they spend time in the classroom with the students, assisting them with their school work and also engage in many activities such as music, sport and face painting. It is also an opportunity for our staff and students to learn about life in a remote indigenous community. This includes honey collecting and hunting as well as participating in a bush picnic, where they had the opportunity to try kangaroo tail, damper cooked in coals and Maku (Witchetty Grub), dug from the roots of witchetty bush as well as cooling off with aquatic activities in the local pool.

The visitors offer a Breakfast Program to the students of the school who are both local as well as those who arrive by bus from the neighbouring community of Kalka, about 15km away. A healthy breakfast of cereal and juice is served.

This is the trip of a life-time. Friendships have evolved that are life-long. Learning has been life-changing.

By Jo Tapp, article from St Aloysius College Magazine, 2020

(Visiting Uluru, St Aloysius College Archives)

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Tapp, J 2020, SAC Pipalyatjara trip, St Aloysius College Magazine, p. 14.