Northern Australian Aboriginal Kakadu Plum Alliance Biannual Face-to-Face Workshop
On the 13th of September, Bridget Bunduck (Palngun Wurnangat Aboriginal Corporation) and Junita Jongmin
(Thamarrurr Development Corporation) travelled to Broome as representatives of Thamarrurr Plums Project for the
biannual Northern Australian Aboriginal Kakadu Plum Alliance (NAAKPA) Steering Committee Face-to-Face Workshop
Prior to the meeting, the Mary Minyarl Centre (Babagarra Aboriginal Incorporation) held a traditional Women’s Weaving
Workshop as a bonding experience for the NAAKPA Steering Committee. On the morning for the 14th of September,
participants met at the Centre for a meet and greet, and to pack the car for a day out bush to collect the pandanus they
would need for weaving.
Leila Nimbadja from Maningrida was to be the teacher in this special form of weaving. Lorna Kelly led the way out to her
stunning country, Ngombal. Pandanus was collected on the way which proved to be quite a task, collecting only the
young leaf shoots from sometimes 2 – 3m high pandanus trees. The older leaves had to be pulled outward and down to
expose the young shoots, which were covered in spines that were difficult to avoid. The young leaves were then pulled
out of the trunk with force. Luckily the team came equipped with a ladder, gloves and a pair of pincers attached to a
long piece of bamboo. Leila ensured that the group kept the outer leaves intact, and only harvested the young shoots
needed, so the tree could continue to thrive.
Once the pandanus was collected everyone jumped in their vehicles and continued down a narrow bush track to Lorna’s
outstation. Her family had a settlement on the top of the red cliffs, overlooking a pure white sandy bay that merged into
picturesque rockpools, and crystal-clear, turquoise ocean. Her grandsons were spearfishing on the reef nearby and the
team set up to have lunch under a 200-year old Gubinge (Kakadu Plum/Mi Marrarl) tree. Lunch consisted of kangaroo
curry, wattle seed and bush tomato damper with homemade Kakadu plum and fig relish, made by the talented Pat
Torres from Mayi Harvests. After the meal, the group began stripping the pandanus.
It was the first time that Lorna had invited outsiders to Ngombal. A very special day indeed. Lots of fun and laughs were
had by all, as everyone struggled to strip the pandanus and shared stories about their homelands. The day ended with
an evening beach walk and everyone left as the moon was rising.
The following day the group met up again at the Mary Minyarl Centre eager to learn the weaving technique from Leila. It
took a while for everyone to get the hang of it but once it was mastered, the group focused on the task for many hours.
With this form of weaving both mats and baskets can be made.
Rona, one of the participants from the Torres Strait Islands cooked up a batch of Dugong curry, made in the traditional
way flavoured with lemongrass and tamarind. Before leaving, Lorna held a smoking ceremony for all, with smoke from
the fragrant leaves of the Paperbark tree, to ensure that they left cleansed of any negative energies they may have
picked up over the two days.
The workshop was a truly memorable experience for all who attended, and a great way to kick off the NAAKPA Meeting.
Text and photos by Elyse Pickstone