I am, however, being put up at a rather flash hotel, a bit of a change from my usual field trip digs.
Here's the view from my hotel room:
I do love the landscape around Alice Springs. It seems art is never far away in this part of the country, and I was very pleased to see the yarn bombing movement has arrived in Central Australia.
Here's two pics from the Desert Knowledge Precinct, just south of town.
We were visiting the precinct as part of the conference, to see examples of some Aboriginal-owned social enterprises. I don't have a lot to say about that, wish I'd pay more attention to the awesome work the Centre for Appropriate Technology is doing though.
But some happened out there that made me see red. We were all sitting about in the sun, resting after lunch. I was sitting on a park bench beside a Balanda (non-Aboriginal person), and a few metres away a Yolŋu woman from up near where I work was playing with her young daughter on the grass. The Balanda was playing with her iPhone, and I soon realised she was taking photos of the woman and her daughter, zooming in to take photos of their faces etc.
Each time they turned our way, she quickly put her phone away and looked the other way. I'm not suggesting anything inappropriate here - well, yes I am actually: do people tend to sneakily take photos of white children? Was there some noble savage fascination going on? Why couldn't she just say "your daughter is so cute! Do you mind if I take a photo?"
I hated myself for not saying anything to her, but I was tired and avoiding all forms of confrontation, indeed any sort of interaction.
But then the woman playing on the grass, who I know through work, struck up a conversation with me, in Yolŋu Matha. I managed to say to her, in language, "Is it ok that this Balanda is taking photos of your daughter?", and while the Balanda focused on me with naive questions about Aboriginal language, Yapa and her daughter smiled at me and slipped away. So I guess at least they got to know what was happening and chose to leave the situation, but I reckon really it's incumbent on all of us to not tolerate racism, and to challenge it when we can, and on that count I failed...