Poetry Adventure and Love: Her heart began to drum the beat of the Yolngu tribes

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4.00 · 1 ratings · Published: Nov 24th, 2015 {{ book.ratingTitle }}
Cassie left James in San Francisco, after 9 years together. She sails single handed across the Pacific to take up a job managing an art centre in the wild Yolngu community of Umbakala. The village, the people and some of the events mirror the reality of these communities today. This place is in the far north of Australia and it’s called Arnhem Land. English is a sixth language for the native Yolngu people who live there, and even today, they sing, dance and practice their ancient ceremonies.

“She saw a group of small children in brightly coloured clothing playing in the dirt with a mangy dog, tufts of hair hanging from its blistered skin. They were beside a corrugated steel house with broken windows. An old man sat in the shadows of the verandah staring blankly ahead. A woman with a mass of black curly hair and a long frayed dress came toward Cassie along the road. She was carrying a naked black baby in one arm and a plastic shopping bag in the other.”

Cassie is determined, strong willed and while outwardly courageous and capable, she finds she can’t survive on her own. Is Mario the white knight she’s been hoping for? What role does Ben play in her life after she accidentally damages his boat with her beloved Serendipity? In her job, as well as unveiling the magic of Yolngu art, Cassie must deal with corruption, violence and the dysfunction of some of the Yolngu community. And yet – there is always love. The friendship kind and the romantic kind – growing, taking on a life of its own in the background.

‘There was a murmur of Yolngu voices in the crowd of painted faces. Some sitting, some standing. Different coloured ochres of the clan colours. A number of men wore headbands, carried spears and had body paint, wearing only shorts for modesty. Movement and expectancy suspended in the air – dancers were fidgeting, didgeridoo players were settling in to a space beside the funeral tunnel and the men with clap sticks. Then quite unexpectedly, the clap sticks began their hollow rhythm and some men began the mournful high pitched wailing song. Cassie was mesmerised and sat staring as the didgeridoo players joined in with their hollow trumpeting sounds.”


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