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  • Writer's pictureBec Allen

Comfort zones and gravel burn

Updated: Jun 7, 2019

When curiosity gets the better of you.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that the following stories may contain images and references to people who have died.

The fire on Yiyili Hill ~ Image by Bec Allen

It’s 2005. I am in a small Aboriginal community called Yiyili in the West Kimberley on a job for the Film and Television Institute. I am relatively naïve , having only visited and worked in a handful of remote communities. My job over the next five days is to manage the production of three short films in consultation with the community. I’ve met with the Elders and mapped the resources on offer. Now it is dusk and perfect to experience a Kimberley sunset after a lengthy drive with my crew from Broome.

So, here I am. Sinking in to Kimberley time. But now the hill is on fire. I’m sliding down a rocky, red, spinifex mountain of gravel on my bum and desperately trying to keep my composure. I manage to slide a tripod under me but my thongs are seriously unplugged and the kids are laughing hysterically at this kartiya. To make matters worse the fire has jumped across the ridge.

“Do we need to call someone to put this out?” Everyone laughs at me.
Jessica and Jarrod on Yiyili Hill ~ Image by Bec Allen

While I am in awe of the freedom afforded to the Gooniyandi kids of Yiyili Community, this whole scenario forces me to leave my comfort zone at the top of Yiyili Hill. The little pyromaniacs win my heart.

Since that moment I have never forgotten how important it is for me to go with the flow. It allowed me to feel that country (gravel burn hurts a lot) and to appreciate something bigger than professionalism or impressing a boss. 14 years on I’m still here but further down the road at a place called Kununurra and still carry my Yiyili experiences with me.

Those challenging and illuminating days have informed the ways I approach my curiosities around technology, media and culture. How do they support bush communities? I believe that these entities can give much needed voice to our young people and to young women in particular.

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