Today we immersed ourselves in the Indigenous culture of the region. After packing up and leaving the hotel at Cairns, we went to the Wuchopperen Health Care Center. The center has been around for about 40 years and provides services for Indigenous people of the area. Health coverage is available to all Australians but Aboriginal medicine has historically been holistic in its approach and as such, many modern Western practices are not appropriate. We learned that around 90% of Indigenous people from the Center suffer from diabetes and heart disease. Even more startling was that the average life expectancy for men is 50 and 55 years old for women. This is due to the sudden introduction of Western food into Aboriginal diets that are not equipped to handle highly process foods. Despite these statistics, the Center has been doing a fantastic job at helping their people to live healthier and longer lives. To learn more about their work, visit their website at http://www.wuchopperen.org.au.
After, we had the opportunity to go on a Dreamtime Gorge Walk in Mossman, Queensland. Our guide, Skip, was a Traditional Landowner and of the “Bama” People, or the People of the Rainforest. Before going into the forrest, we all participated in a traditional smoking ceremony where smoke from a bonfire cleansed us of bad thoughts, masked our smell to animals, and made it such that we all smelled the same and were able to “move as one” throughout the forrest. We learned about many native plants that are used for medicines, paint and even saw how they make soap! Unfortunately (or, rather, fortunately), there wasn’t much wildlife to see but there were King Parrots and wild turkeys that accompanied us on the walk. Skip also performed the Dijorido (something that the rest of us were massively unsuccessful at).
We had a nice lunch at the Junction Cafe in Mossman and then continued on to our hostel in Yungaburra. It’s a small lodge that’s working on being completely green. Check it out at http://www.onthewallaby.com. A Traditional Landowner, Jai, met us there and shared information about the 7 local tribes, 3 of which were pigmy tribes! Jai also shared with us the resin of the top of a plant that is used to help improve memory. After a dinner, we had a Reflection and all went around and shared our favorite part of the trip so far. The Great Barrier Reef and the Grampians were common answers but we all agreed that the memories we’ve made and the friendships we’ve formed have been the best part. And with that sappy conclusion, it’s time for us to sign off.
Katelyn and Eriel