The genesis for this project began in 2004 with my first trip to Australia to present a paper at the TAFE Conference on Learning Technology. It was at this conference that a nascent fascination for the uniqueness of Australia began to grow – especially the art, language and spirituality of the Australia’s first peoples. In subsequent years, colleagues at Saint Mary’s College of California familiar with the work being done by the De LaSalle Brothers throughout Australia encouraged me to continue my explorations of Australia’s Aboriginal communities resulting in two important trips in 2011. The first brought me back to Australia to make arrangements to visit the Aboriginal community in Balgo Hills located in Great Sandy Desert region of Western Australia as part of a research sabbatical to be taken in the year 2012. Also in 2011, I was fortunate to travel to Rome, Italy to participate in various activities involving the canonization of Sr. Mary McKillop, Australia’s first saint.
In the spring of 2012, a two-month trip to Australia ensued for which during the first portion I had an opportunity to visit a variety of locations run by the De LaSalle Brothers involving work with education, training and support of nominally disenfranchised youth. Cities visited included Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane during which I was invited to explore a broad array of educational and social service sites including the expansive Lasallian operation headquartered in Brisbane called Boys Town which daily supports tens of thousands of at-risk youths.
Following these site visits along the southern and eastern seaboard of Australia, my travels then led me northward to the towns of Darwin and Kununarra and finally a mail plane journey to the heart of the Australian outback for a visit to the Aboriginal community of Balgo Hills where the De La Salle Brothers operate a school as well as an extension site for their Boys Town operation. While at Balgo Hills I also had an opportunity to visit the indigenous communities of Mulan and Billiluna located on the edge of Lake Gregory. What resulted from these visits was a watershed moment of growth for me both personally and professionally thanks to the many friends I made, both white and indigenous, and to the incredible hospitality that was accorded me during my time there.
This website is intended as a repository for information garnered from this 2012 sabbatical research project. Items such as articles, reflections, photos and videos will be posted on a regular basis as materials are developed. The focus of these postings will concentrate on three distinct thematic areas:
(1) The language, culture and spirituality of the Wirrimanu people of the Balgo region.
(2) The analysis of these cultural artifacts through the academic lenses of Media Ecology and General Semantics.
(3) The work of the De LaSalle Brothers throughout the Australia and Papua New Guinea region.
Please note that this website is an ongoing work in progress and as such will have images of people posted only when permission has been granted by the individual or individuals shown and the authorizing agents of the Wirrimanu community including officials at the Luurnpa Catholic School.