Outback Meets the Beach

outback meets the beach

Outback Meets the Beach is a between North Palm Beach SLSC and the Jawoyn Communities from the Arnhem Land in Northern Territory that promotes reconciliation.  One of the aims of this partnership, which has been developing since 2007, is to provide an opportunity for a cultural exchange that promotes “two-way” learning so that everyone involved in the program can challenge their preconceived stereotypes and this has encouraged greater understanding, trust and tolerance on both sides.  A second focus is to provide some opportunities to build the capacity within these communities so that, over time, they can become more independent and economically sustainable.

Outback Meets the Beach brings a group of young people and traditional owners from remote communities to stay at the Club for about 2 weeks each year.  The Jawoyn communities most involved in the program are Barunga, Wugularr, Manyallaluk and Bulman.  These communities are located over 120 kms east of Katherine, which in turn, is about a 3.5 hour drive from Darwin.  Throughout the program the people from the Northern Territory live with members of the surf club in the bunkhouses at the Club and everyone participates in all the activities together.

The first phase of the Outback Meets the Beach program provides the young people from remote communities with some education, training, skills and qualifications in specific areas that were identified by the Jawoyn Association as needed within these communities and that would also lead to greater employment opportunities for the participants.  Members of the Club provide education and training in first aid, resuscitation, life saving skills and water safety.  In addition, they received an introduction to tour guiding, including bush tucker tours, from Indigenous Guides and Discovery Rangers with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.    Another important aspect of this phase of the program was to develop the confidence and self esteem of the participants by introducing a mentoring program that involves successful Aboriginal people sharing their stories.  Another aspect of Outback Meets the Beach is the promotion of wellbeing and the behaviours that lead to a healthy life.  We provide the young people with information about good nutrition, maintaining hydration levels in hot climates and the problems associated with alcohol and drug abuse.

While it is a real privilege to share the power and magnificence of the Barrenjoey Peninsula with our friends from the Northern Territory, it is an even greater privilege to share the experience of traditional Aboriginal culture and life in outback remote communities with our Jawoyn friends.  The second phase of OMTB occurs when a group from the surf club travel to Arnhem Land and stay in the Jawoyn Communities. The opportunity for city people to spend time with our friends in the Communities is wonderful and it really challenges the way we think about our Indigenous peoples.  Club members enjoy camping at Barunga and sitting around the campfire with the billy boiling talking and sharing time with the Jawoyn mob.  This is where we really get to hear and learn about the oral history and dreamtime stories so important to Indigenous culture.  The mob at Barunga really look after us taking us swimming in the creek, sugar-bagging in the bush, learning about the different plants, making baskets and didgeridoos and experiencing life in remote Indigenous communities.  We learn about bush tucker and traditional cooking methods from the traditional owners.

We get to explore the Katherine Gorge in canoes and the several walking trails through the bush that lead to the most beautiful water holes.  The landscape and scenery in this part of the Northern Territory is truly awe-inspiring.

Through the efforts of many, the enduring friendships that have developed between the members of Surf Club and the Jawoyn people have been life changing and hopefully this will continue well into the future despite the great distance between where we live.



Program Partners and Sponsors

It is important that we acknowledge the many members of the club and public who contribute financially and in many other ways to support OMTB: