Arnhem Weaving Journey July 2020, Gunbalanya, Friday, 10. July 2020
A meaningful travel experience filled with the richness and joy of connection, healing and personal growth. This is a truly unique experience of connection to self, to Australian Indigenous culture and weaving. It is not a tour, it is an immersive journey in accomapniment with me, Rene Bahloo. Share time on spirit country with my adopted Indigenous family - Christine Nabobbob, Priscilla and Sylvia Badari and others as we weave our lives and culture together, with love, in community.
Come with me on an amazing journey deep into the heart of remote Indigenous Australia. Share special times, weaving with family and new friends, experience the ancient art of basket weaving through cultural immersion. Learn about traditional culture as you walk the land, collecting pandanus and natural bush dyes. Sit with mother earth as you learn to split and prepare premium fibre which is exclusive to this beautiful place on our planet. Be in a space of nurture and allow the strong spirit of the land soothe and heal you, to reset your compass. Come with me, and you will see the precious gift of weaving our lives together, through an ancient cultural lineage, in a way that you will change you forever.
The adventure includes optional transport (with me in my 11 seater vehicle - a special troopcarrier called 'Beasty Babe' aka 'Djindjalma') from Darwin and back, accommodation in shared comfortable bungalows in Jabiru (with a pool), transport in and out of the community, all permits to enter aboriginal land, special fibre for a small basket, all tuition and the most amazing trip to Injalak hill (world heritage rock art site). Additional surprise side trips are often included too.
Each room has a fridge, sink and tea/coffee making place, please note that these cabin rooms are 3-5 person share. ($60 extra to shotgun the double bed).
Due to booking demands and factors outside our control, alternative accommodation may be substituted. Some of these alternative accommodation configurations include 5-person share rooms. If this is not to your liking, more private accommodations can be arranged, at extra cost.
(Catered) Most meals are catered for: self-serve breakfast, picnic lunches, three evening meals (two meals will be at the local restaurant, at participant's expense). Tea and coffee is included, other drinks are BYO.
This experience is a shared journey where we walk together in the unfolding mystery of a new culture, unknown factors, the growing connection of our group as a whole, where we help each other throughout the trip. It is by no means a retreat where everything is laid on for your comfort, but a together-walk with an eye to uncover and breathe in the amazingness and beauty of difference as well as connection.
More info -
Well I’m back in Brisbane and settling into reality though missing the smell of bush fire and red dust. My dreams and waking thoughts are filled with the colours of the fibres and landscapes we walked through, the beautiful and inspiring women we shared time with and the endless weaving possibilities ahead. My family loved the images and stories of our journey - so many special experiences in the memory bank. On reflection and in the retelling, I am so very grateful to you for your guidance, wisdom, superior driving skills and friendship over the week. Your greatest attribute is your ability to connect all the dots - the timing, the tides, the discreet transactions and more importantly creating the connection between the two mobs. You are indeed a unique person with so much energy for life’s adventures and challenges. You have empowered the women we shared our journey with which was evident in their pride of their culture and confidence to share their personal stories and places we walked through.
I am so glad that i jumped at this opportunity and it will forever be one of my most special journeys. Thank you again Rene and I hope the rest of your time in NT, Barunga festival etc is enriching for safe.
I was looking for a travel experience that was both a cultural immersion and a weaving experience. The trip to Arnhem land with Rene provided both of these things in spades. One of the previous trip testimonies said that if you were unsure about this trip, to jump in feet first. That’s exactly what I did and I will always be grateful for the very personal journey that I shared with the incredible women of Gunbalanya, Rene and the other women on our trip. Rene has a unique bond with the women and community which allowed us to spend time gathering, preparing, dyeing and weaving pandanus fibre in incredibly beautiful settings. More important though was the sharing of stories of culture, place and family while sitting and walking through their country. It was a privilege to spend time with these inspiring women and the journey will forever hold some of my most special memories.
Rene is the glue that kept this adventure unfolding - her relationship to the women, her knowledge of language, her understanding of the culture and landscape, her ability to deal with changes and challenges, her culinary and superior troupie driving skills and her energy and shared wisdom which guided us along the way. If you want an out of the ordinary and enriching experience that you will never forget, than I can recommend this journey wholeheartedly.
Helen May-June 2019
“This trip has been one of the most important and beautiful experiences that I´ve ever lived. Everything flows perfectly and organically, from the warm relationship with the girls of the group to the magical connection with the Aboriginal woman and their land. This is thanks to the great guidance of Rene and her will to open the space for everyone needs and energies. Her valuable experience makes the journey extremely enjoyable, not only in terms of weaving pandanas, but also in terms of weaving life.
The moment that filled my hearth the most was the fact of having the opportunity to witness the knowledge and connection that the community have with the land, with their ancestors and with their culture in general.
I definitely recommend this experience for those how look for deep connections and transcendental learning.”
Ana María Ovalle Muskus July 2019
The trip to Arnhem Land with René was wonderful. She masterfully wove an amazing experience, showing me a glimpse of the weave of the Indigenous womens’, and her, lives; family, fibre and country, their skill in these areas inspiring. I had a lot of fun, and felt honoured to have had this again thanks,Dianna Dean, Hobart June 2019
Its hard to put into words how much my life has changed and how grateful I am for you and the ladies in Gunbalanya. I would do it again at a drop of my hat and run to Darwin to meet you all!
The deep expression of this experience on my soul - spreading and expanding my life and my own dreaming. Each pull on the weave, each twist a reverberation, a connection, a moment of love and surrender. An awareness of the subtle calling in my heart and the energy of the Earth grounding me in presence. Each day bringing the unknown to life, faces seen in the landscape, stories sharing the great teachings of the Ancestors of this great land. The customs the values the traditions so honoured, told and received with an abundance of respect and admiration. It draws tears from my ears, becoming evermore receptive to the history, the learnings of those before us who lived and breathed the land.
Delicate silences roaring to life the Pandanus Tree, the dyes staining my hands, the language and laughter of sharing.
Everyday we ventured into the unknown, a small group of 8. Beastie Babe the grand vehicle of our endeavours! Collecting the Pandanus with our hook sticks and sacks, exploring, images beginning to form itself into pathways, seeds sprouting from the ground, roots and branches transforming into colours. The peace of smoke swirling from the fires, stripping the Pandanus with patience and perseverance! The awesome knowledge of land and its uses, startling itself into maps of abundance. The Land beckoning imagination.
Anbinik Lodge cozy, homely, everything included- food, tea, coffee lunch dinner breakfast, fruit! Healthy and clean- variety and diverse sushi and curry! Wraps and soup!
Rene and Arjuna are so welcoming, giving and open, loving calm and peaceful. Life long friendships made and this experience planting a deep seed within my heart. The journeys around Arnhem Land during the day and the climb on Injalak Hill so personal and intimate so real and honest. I treasure each moment spent in Beastie Babe, sitting by the waterfall, looking out over Ubirr sunset and the paintings. The history. The fibre is now in my hands as I weave with the magic of the dreaming land. The knowledge and the love I have experienced on this trip, I recommend it to everyone ready to be transformed and to learn the history and present Indigenous culture of Western Arnhem Land.
Sophie, July 2019
Hi Rene & Joooon,
Well, after days of writing then letting it be coming back & rereading rewriting, I feel its ready to be shared. So much heart & transition happening,there will be for many many moons I'm thinking, here we go!It's been powerful for me doing this, I thank you Rene, ancient knowing spirit woman.
I have longed & longed for years to be able to sit in the earth with the real people of the earth.My whole being has longed & craved for this deep connection. I sit in the earth in my little paradise of home but have sensed & longed for deeper & deeper meaning in connection.
I have so very much to be thankful for, my incredibly humble healer Doc enabling me to connect deeplywith in myself, in subtle yet in credibly powerful energy of healing & reconnection that i have also foundin ancient Arnhem land & its peoples. But for him none of this would have been possible.
Dearest Rene, making every thing so very possible sharing her ancient knowing spirit as she weavesin & out of her beloved heart land of ancient beings & dreaming's along with her Beasty Babe troupie carrying us all fully laden on our incredible journey, opening her heart & space to share even more & more.
Darling Ajuna, her beautiful spirit & nurturing food, picnic lunches in the most amazing places ,so capable & patient, then after huge energy filled days of glorious times together - night meals lovingly prepared & shared.
Hands that reached out to me over rocky outcrops to enable me in encouragement to be able to share in some of country's incredible rock art & views of wet lands & very privileged swimming in sacred fresh water springs.
Sometimes surrounded by many others yet was able to feel the sacredness of deep connection & detach from all the chattering & excitement around me in this ancient land.
The many many dream time stories & ancient places we passed & visited, privileged with our beautiful women of Gunbalanya & children.
Beautiful gentle caring & compassionate Anna Maria for enabling us to forever have memories as she tirelessly has been filming with Rene's guidance & loving energy in & out of dream time in this ancient land & beautiful people, capturing moments of timeless happenings from our very knowing companions of Gunbalanya.
To have had these amazing experiences of going out bush with the ladies teaching us their skills & tradition in picking the youngest healthy shoots of the mother panadanus palm, enabling her to regrow & regenerate foranother time. Not only returning with pandanus leaves to be further stripped & processed but also with hands & body to be released of tiny thorns from the sharp edged pandanus palm, she didn't give up her precious shoots with out letting one know!
Going to special places in the bush to find the beautiful natural dyes, of roots, flower heads, bulbs etc etc. So much involved in the sacred process of cleaning chopping crushing these beautiful gifts of this ancient country's peoples in their sharing. Then added the processed pandanus leaves into pots of boiling water on little fires made by the fire women in the river bed - the fire women also were the billy tea makers.
Then the connection was completed for me sitting in the ancient river bed of timelessness being taught by master weaver Christine woman of the ancient world. Dear Christine - so patient & knowing, encouraginglysat & taught us the mat weave which I have been struggling to understand & learn for many years - till now.
My whole being came to life as I was holding this very sacred dyed pandanus fibre in my hands, close to my heart, igniting, my life force awakening, my longing, my dreaming this incredible ancient world of being into my weaving.
I know I will have life-long & beautiful relations from our time together.
Pamela Maree GrimaHarvey, W.A.0407255430
I did the last trip with Rene in July 2018. I didn’t really know what to expect but I was drawn to the idea of “A meaningful travel experience filled with the richness and joy of connection, healing and personal growth”. And I could get this while doing the thing I love best- weaving?
The trip was about a lot more than weaving. To actually witness and participate in the stunning process of going on country, gathering pandanus with women connected to this country, foraging for the natural dyes to use, being shown how to strip the pandanus and then preparing the dyes and then dying the stripped pieces was a truly amazing process. I had no idea, and can attest that my imagination could not have taken me close to the experience. You actually have to be there, as the saying goes. Those bundles of dyed pandanus at the end of the day was truly remarkable as are my memories of it.
But the trip is about much more than that. It is to also be in the presence of the amazing Rene who ‘held’ this process in an incredible allowing way. This was new to behold and I really valued everything that Rene bought to the trip, including her incredible and tireless strength in loading up the troopee everyday and always making sure that we had everything we needed, including nourishing food and an amazing person to prepare our food for us. This was a real treat.
What Rene offers you on this trip cannot be bought through any kind of ‘commercial’ exercise or tour. Not even close. A number of women on this July trip were there for a second time and I can see why you would return because there is no where else, I know , where you can go and get this wide ranging, unique cultural participation in as I have said a ‘stunning process’ steered by a stunning women committed to her real and substantial relationships with Aboriginal women and other community members of the Gunbalanya Aboriginal community in west Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory of Australia.
You will indeed experience connection, healing and personal growth. Oh, and by the way, I also learnt new techniques in weaving using the beautiful pandanus, saw amazing rock art, and purchased some amazing art pieces from the Injalak Arts Centre which sells amazing artistic works from a variety artists from the Gunbalanya community and surrounding outstations. Should you wish to ask me any questions about my experience I am happy to be contacted on 0413966938.
Liz, Sydney, NSW
I was mildly skeptical about the uniqueness of the experience and the value for money that this pretty expensive journey would deliver when I booked; but it was an experience as a fibre artist that I had been longing for for many years.
Given that my expectations were low, I was more than blown away by the joys and rewards that this trip delivered.
Renee is a remarkable, inspiring, knowledgeable and capable Amazonian woman whose relationship with the Gunbalanya weavers is one of genuine friendship and authenticity; it’s obvious that this working relationship has been patiently built over many years and it is this relationship which enables such a unique and non-touristy experience.
The daily drive from Jabiru into Arnhem land and across the East Alligator river to the Gunbalanya community was action packed with some awesome crocodile antics in the river, great bird watching moments and stunning stone country scenery.
Driving around the community to pick up the weaving ladies and run errands for the locals was an education and we gained much insight into aboriginal community life from both Rene and the ladies; Christine, Priscilla and Lyn.
The process of picking the pandanus was fun and strangely addictive. Wandering through the grasslands identifying and collecting dye materials was a revelation.
On our first day after the pandanus picking and dye collecting, we set up camp by a beautiful waterfall/billabong where we prepared the dye materials and were shown the intricate process of stripping and preparing the pandanus fibre in preparation for dyeing and weaving. This was one of many profound moments for me on this journey, sitting cross legged on the ground in this stunning setting, listening to the bird calls above and the ladies chattering in language, pounding plant matter on rocks, whilst fires were lit for dye baths and lunch was prepared by the beautiful Ajuna, daughter of Rene.
I experienced such a strong sense of peace and joy in this timeless setting shared with these remarkable women. I experienced many more moments such as these in the following days, rich with visual beauty, new skills learned and stories shared.
I cannot recommend highly enough this experience if you are into indigenous culture and art, weaving, natural dyes, warm weather, stunning landscapes, phenomenal rock art, inspiring art centres, beautiful women and are after a unique and authentic experience.
Lisa White, Balingup Western Australia.
Just a few words about my second weaving and culture trip to Arnhem Land. The opportunity to return this year was a wonderful surprise and I jumped in with both feet, I knew that beautiful place was not finished with me again there were many heart opening, grounding and delightful surprises. My weaving even improved. Sharing stories and learning so much from our most generous hosts on their country are deeply treasured memories. Travelling with Rene is a lesson in letting go, letting life flow and is a lot of fun. Great food prepared by the beautiful Ajuna, being fed is such a immersed in nature, yarning and laughing lots, incredible rock art, gathering pandanus, collecting dye and weaving. Being with the Ladies on their country and just listening and learning.So many layers to this experience, it is difficult to describe. I can only say it is one of the most unique, authentic and life affirming experiences I have had. Meg, Sunshine Coast, Qld
This is the most extraordinary incredible soul warming experience!! If you are even remotely considering it - then I’d recommend taking the leap and going. The friendships I made and the privilege of sitting alongside women who shared their amazing knowledge so graciously has altered my heart forever. It was very cool. The kind of cool you can't even imagine when you read it on paper! You are a very special 'guide' Rene! I'm not sure that is the right word - maybe if we understand 'guide' as being a facilitator with heart, human connector, relationship builder, sharer of knowledge, driver / counselor, solver of all problems including swollen river crossings (!!!!) - well maybe that would be a start! Freaking awesome experience!
Renee, Brisbane, Qld
When trying to decide if I should take this journey I read some reviews of previous travellers. One stood out to me, it said something like “ if you are even just considering going on this trip .... do it” So I did and I am so grateful that reviewer took the time. Having said that I have taken an age to write this. I am really struggling to find words that do justice to my experience. It was a journey of so many layers, and so removed from my usual existence that words do not come easily. The feeling of crossing the river at Cahills Crossing for the first time, the feeling of travelling into another world, to describe the ancient and powerful landscape. Then you meet the people. Generous, funny, awesome teachers, who took us to their country, their places, told us their stories. We learnt about, gathered and prepared materials for dyeing. We learnt about gathered and stripped pandanus. We dyed that pandanus and learnt different weaving techniques, some of us more successfully than others, that didn’t matter, you could always go and stir the dye pot. We laughed and talked and listened, learnt some language. Played with the delightful children and looked out for Ginga (crocodile). Returning to our comfy camp at night, with an awesome group of women, we cooked and shared and laughed some more. All the while Rene is facilitating, guiding, teaching and taking care of us. I am so grateful that Rene has this passion for sharing culture, and taking others on these journeys. There were so many moments I would love to share, far too many. In the end this was a very personal journey that for me was very profound. But if the idea excites you even a little bit ......do it.
Megan New, Sunshine Coast, Qld
It's very difficult to put this journey into words. I encourage you to look at Rene's photos as they beautifully capture the landscape, people and experiences. This is not an experience you will find on Flight Centre or Red Balloon, it is personal and intimate. Rene invites you into a sacred space of connection with the Injalak women who generously welcome you into their lives, land, practices and community for a precious time. Rene skilfully weaves individual desires into a collective experience that becomes a shared memory for life and after you wonder if it was a dream? If you are drawn to this journey I encourage you to do it! Tips include: enter with humour, flexibility, a desire to learn, respect for the process and this will result in thankfulness that an opportunity like this has crossed your path. Enjoy and safe travels.
Isabel, Brisbane, Qld
In early June, I joined an amazing group of women with our fearless leader Rene Bahloo on an adventure to West Arnhem Land. Words do not adequately capture the life changing experience. Suffice to say, for me, it was a defining moment in my life’s journey. The deep sense of connection to country and to the incredible Kunwinjku fibre artists that we had the honour and privilege of working and playing beside will sustain me for a very long time. We shared knowledge, stories, laughter and adventure. Together we harvested fibre from the Pandanus tree and stripped the plant in preparation for dyeing and weaving. We collected natural dyes from the local environment and ground them up to create a variety of colours. The Pandanus fibre was boiled in the dyes and then hung out to dry. We worked seated together learning how to weave coil baskets and wall mats. The women were so generous in sharing their weaving knowledge and patient with our many questions. My heartfelt gratitude extends to Rene for connecting me to this most awesome of adventures and to the women in our group who threw themselves into the experience with open minds, curiosity, wisdom and good humour. It was an unforgettable experience and profound personal and spiritual insights were gained through the peace and connection with our weaving sisters, their families and their country.
Nicole, Newcastle, NSW
This journey is about so much more than just weaving. I felt a very real connection to country, a newfound love and admiration for the generous women we spent time with, and a deeper understanding and respect for culture and life in Arnhem Land. I came away with great learning, many laughs, and a full heart. This was a once in a lifetime experience at a grass roots level and I adored each unique experience.
Lisa, Brisbane, Qld
The Arnhem Land weaving trip was something I had wanted to do for so long. It wasso much more than I had imagined that it would be! It had adventure (crossing Alligator River daily,but always with great care) to get to the Injalak arts centre! It had friendship and fun, learning about new cultures, meeting new people, mountain climbing, camp fires, going bush to collect natural materials and weaving !! I have found a new connection to my home country Australia that I have been wanting to feel for a long time !! Finally, Rene is such a lovely interesting and fun host! I genuinely felt taken care of and excited for what each day would hold for us ! It was such a delight ! And I think of the Injalak arts centre often and will go there again for sure :)
Cate, Sunshine Coast, Qld
Arnhem Weaving Journey July 2020
Eventeri.com is not a host of this event! Contact host here.
Eventeri.com is not a host of this event! Contact host here.