“After a very busy three weeks it was time for a rest, so this last weekend I swapped the red soil and heat for the cold weather and green hills of Victoria. I went down south to visit a good friend of mine from Melbourne, Ellie, who I lived with when I worked at a performing arts camp in New York. Seeing as how I’ve travelled half way across the world, I thought I should take advantage and travel the four and a half hour flight form Darwin to Melbourne to visit. Everyone in Darwin nearly passed out when I said was going to Melbourne, cries of ‘you’re going to freeze!,’ ‘you’d better wrap up warm!’ and ‘but it’s winter down there!’ were made. I don’t think they realised that I’m used to to the cold, and 17 degrees (which was what Melbourne was) isn’t actually that bad! So with a bag stuffed with hat, gloves, scarves and coats borrowed from Brenda off I went.
Stepping off the plane it felt like I’d flown to another country. Even though it’s winter, it had more of an Autumn feel to me, with bare trees and a crisp freshness in the air, something Darwin must never have experienced. We weren’t staying in the city though, we travelled into the country where Ellie’s parents own a block of land near the town of Colac, not far from the Great Ocean Road. From travelling around Australia last year, I found that the state of Victoria reminded me most of Wales, as it is so green and some rolling hills, just completely different to dry Darwin. You’d never think that it’s here they have a problem with drought. I loved driving through the little country towns which feel like you’ve stepped back in time, with their pristine main streets with old England buildings. As we arrived at the block a kangaroo hopped into the bush which was the first one I’ve seen since I’ve been in Australia this time. There we completely relaxed, ate lots of food and played board games before returning to the city, and then back to Darwin. My flight was carry on baggage only and I had slightly over packed, so I nearly fainted when I stepped out in Darwin wearing two t-shirts, a cardi, a scarf, a coat and a hat!
This week Sarah was off work as her dad was visiting from Queensland, so I offered to cover her workshops. Sarah’s groups are very different to mine back home, so it was a great learning curve for me as it was very much out of my comfort zone, but also quite refreshing to have a change. On Monday there was a lovely moment in the Detention Centre where I had the group creating stories using movement and sounds due to the language barrier. The story was of a farmer who had some chickens stolen. When the time came to watch, they’d set up the scene beautifully, with each becoming a farm animal and the farmer taking his time going around and feeding each animal.
Another challenge for me was Tuesday’s Life Without Barriers workshop with adults with severe disabilities, an area where I lack experience. But as I’ve been doing this workshop with Sarah, I felt confident in what I was doing.
Even though the workshop went really well, I still found it challenging, as lots of effort and care is needed to get them to participate, which sometimes they don’t want to do. So as a facilitator you need to be very easy going and able to switch very quickly to different exercises whilst processing what exercises would be appropriate for that group. After doing it here, I think working with disabilities is something I’d like to continue when I get home.
The Arts Access mixed ability group is one that I really enjoy, as everyone in the group are such great fun to work with. They are working towards an adapted version of Romeo and Juliet, and this week Shelly, a music worker came and wrote a song with us which left me mesmerised! The guys came up with great lyrics for Romeo’s song, such as ‘Take me by the hand, I love you so, Your worth much more to me than pure gold, take me by the hand everything’s OK, I will love you til the end of days.’
Next week I have a few days off, so this weekend I’m going on a ‘5 day top end safari’ which involves camping, trekking, canoeing and seeing the most wonderful sights of Kakadu National Park, Litchfield and Katherine Gorge. This is life!”
Alyson Evans – Drama Development Worker