Fieldnote Book, December 2008.
After four days in Nhulunbuy [the closest township] I drove back into camp yesterday. There were two rivers that I was already really hesitant to cross – water skimming up over my bonnet (and I could hear Mum and Dad on each of shoulder, insisting that I daren’t try). It was fine though, of course. I imagine it will only be another few days, though, before we’re rained in for the rest of the wet.
There haven’t been staples in camp for some weeks now – so yapa redistributed the shopping that I drove back in. Each hearth now has a pocket-full of rolling tobacco and a small box of tinned food each (to supplement whatever we hunt or gather in this season of scarcity). Each fire also has a Big-Red Flour Tin and one Small Blue-Tin of refined sugar. Pillars of staples! I also (secret-way) stashed a jar-full of sugar under my bed to keep until everything else is gone. Which is kind of expected, as expected.
After redistributing this and that, we all sat on the veranda bukmak rrambaŋi (‘all close, together, level, at one’) and shared-story catching up on all the news. At some point wäwa mentioned that they’d been sitting out on the airstrip all morning, listening out for the sound of the car. They’d heard me come up over the ridge – the drone of the engine – at least half an hour out of camp. Four days. I’ve missed here too.