The community that we live in is called Gapuwiyak (Gap-oo-wi-yak).
Gapuwiyak is in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory. Gapu in Yolngu Matha (the local Indigenous language) means water.
An English person came to Gapuwiyak and named it Lake Evella.
I am going to tell you what it is like to live in Gapuwiyak.
We go shoe-less
The clothing here is different. The ladies don’t wear shorts or short skirts and dresses. They wear long skirts that flow down to their ankles which they call yapa skirts (yapa means sister).
Most people don’t wear shoes even in the bush where most people usually would wear safety boots. And every so often you might find someone turn up to school in pyjamas when it’s not pyjama day!
People up here don’t really care about what you wear or how you look.
Cheeky dogs are someone’s old pet that’s escaped and become a community camp dog. They roam around the community. They hang around our school hoping one of the kids will spare them their snack, or sometimes bark at you for not much of a reason.
When I say cheeky dog I mean crazy dog. Sometimes they get into the middle of our basketball games, and sometimes they interrupt our classrooms.
All the kids in the community play together no matter how old you are and usually we all get along.
Living in our community is a bit like living in a caravan park. People often unexpectedly come over to play.
One time we were playing basketball with two other kids on the local basketball court. About an hour later about 60 other kids of all ages came to play! It was so fun.
Different ways, different culture
When we had my brother’s party we didn’t really need much to organise it. It was fun and free. We just had yummy food and went to one of the local swimming places. My brother’s Yolngu friend gave him a spear that he had made.
In community everyone is somehow family, even us. If you are new to the community, you will probably get adopted by one of the Yolngu.
So you call everyone brother, sister, grandma, auntie, uncle or grandfather. So we have lots of family now. Family teaches you Yolngu ways like hunting, language, stories, bush tucker and lots more.
Living in a community is so different from living in a city. There are different ways and different culture.
Sometimes it might take a while to learn but you will always have that knowledge of the people who know and own the land.
This is the second instalment in Grace Humphris’s letters from a remote community. Grace, 11, moved to east Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory last year.