I live in a very remote part of Australia. For those that don’t know, I live on Groote Eylandt, which is a small island in remote Northern Territory. The only real way to get here is by plane, and everything we have has to be flown or barged in.
Alyangula itself, which is where I live has a population of about 1000 if we are lucky. It is a small town, and mostly filled with people who come here for work, whether for the mine or government employment or one of the various other enterprises that base their workers in the town.
I am very lucky that I have some family living here, but I am mindful that for the majority people living in Alyangula the distance from family and friends is great. This can be a difficult thing for the families of this town, particularly at this time of the year when the holidays are upon us, and the emphasis on the importance of family and loved ones can make it feel like we live on the edge of the earth.
Which is why I wanted to do a bit of a shout out to the events for children and families that are run in this little town. Take this last weekend for example. On Saturday afternoon the Alyangula Children’s Christmas Party was in full swing. It involved an amazing itinerary including a disco, free food (including the favourite – Fairy Floss! You should have seen the line!), face painting and tattoos, Santa Singers and a visit and presents from the big man in red himself. Yep, that’s right… Santa made the trip to Groote Eylandt, despite the heat!
The kids had a ball all afternoon. As I looked around I saw children of all ages from the teeniest babes being fawned over to the dancing tweens and teens having an awesome time and being free to just enjoy themselves. I sat with friends and watched our kids dance on the stage with no thought for anything else but singing the Christmas Carols at the top of their lungs and busting out the awesome moves. I saw how well the children in the community know each other and how easy and comfortable it was. I watched as Santa arrived and a gaggle of kids tore out of the fenced area to chase the fire engine around the street… and no one was worried about it. It was awesome.
I also saw the adults that worked very hard to pull off the best event they could. A lot of people worked tirelessly for the days and weeks leading up to that event and I am so thankful that we have people who are willing to do that in our little community… and we have quite a lot of them. It’s not just the Children’s Christmas Party I am referring to now either. We have volunteers running events for the kids left, right and centre here, from an ever growing BMX club that the kids talk about non stop, to MyGolf and Family fishing comps. From Auskick to playgroup, from Net Set Go to Craft workshops run by the CWA. And this is just a small list.
And I guess the reason why I am writing about all of this is that I am very thankful to be part of a community of people where there are so many who are willing to pitch in and make the community strong, especially for the kids. A lot of us do miss family and friends while we are living here. It is an amazingly beautiful place, and a fabulous place to live, but it is still ‘far away’. The people who run these events (and I hope they know who they are) help to make that distance seem just that little bit less, in my opinion, and at this time of year particularly, I am very thankful for that!
So to anyone in our little town that has contributed to any of the amazing family events, no matter how big or small, this year or any other, I extend my sincere thanks and appreciation. You guys truly do rock!
PS. My team mate Kel and I did catch a big Sailfish for anyone that is wondering… A few in fact! And this little marlin. Had to put it up… tagged and released 🙂
PPS. Hoping to get the pre-orders out very soon! Watch this space…