3rd March 2009, Gotha teaches the Yolŋu Studies Class from Gäwa

On March the 3rd 2009 during the first Yolngu Matha Class of the year Yingiya presented some Powerpoint presentations and a video. In the second part of the session Guthadjaka from Gawa on Galiwinku presented a teaching session with John Greatorex using Skype, Teamviewer and a telephone. The video file below is a record of this session. The video is 36 minutes long and 79 MB in size. Click on the image below to view the video.



Draft Transcription of the Video

M Michael Christie
J John Greatorex
G Gotha
T Trevor Van Weeren
S1, S2 etc ‘Student 1’, ‘Student 2’ etc.

Recording commences 0:00:00

(People speaking Yolngu Matha and some chit-chat.)

J I will just introduce you first. There’s a project running at the university that Michael who is running this, this is Michael Christie and this is Trevor Van Weeren and Michael would just like to introduce what we’re doing there and then we’ll listen to this lady up here.

M Okay. I seem to have lost my notes but that’s all right. it’s very quick and easy. My name is Michael Christie. I am in the School of Education. Before I was in the School of Education I was in the School of Indigenous Knowledge Systems and in fact way … back when I started the Yolngu Studies program, and then John and Inga took over, and I’ve moved over to Education and I do research. One of the research projects that we have funding for is called Teaching From Country and that is unfortunately only a black and white version of a little poster that Trevor has done that tells you about the project and gives you a website. If you are interested to find out more about the project, look on the website and you’ll see all sorts of things about, ways that, it’s all to do with trying to get Yolngu Knowledge authorities in remote places to become active teaching in the classroom. So it’s like remote education in reverse. The teachers are out there and the students are in there. and we’re interested in the technological stuff but we’re also interested in the sort of pedagogical stuff and about knowledge and Yolngu understandings of knowledge and where knowledge comes from and how it works and the relation of knowledge to the environment, and how it changes when you’re in your environment, how the nature of teaching changes. If you look on the website there’s a whole lot of stuff by Yolngu in there already about those issues. Part of the project though is to try to actually get life teaching situations up and running with people in very remote places to the university and tonight is the very first night that we’re going to give it a go. So if it goes well we’ll be happy, and we’ll just see how it goes. But part of the project is the research part of it, which means that you are actually invited to participate and you would be welcome to have a look at the blog and to contribute as the semester goes on, and as you probably know that involves me asking you if you don’t mind to fill out consent forms so that anything that you say or maybe if Trevor catches you on the video, you don’t mind us using it. If you do mind and you don’t want to be part of the video, you ought to move over there somewhere and sort of wave or put your hand over your face or something. Are there any questions? I don’t want to talk too much about that; it’s all on the website and we’ll be back. Are there any questions or are you happy to just move on?

S Yeah, move on.

M I will hand these out. If you can just put them on the table there. And the other thing, there is a couple of different things here, of other things, that this woman here is about to talk to you has been working on, other research projects that you’ll be able to find out about if you have a look. Thanks. Over to you Wakwak.


J At the moment you can see Gotha. I call her Gothara. She calls me Mari, grandmother. And she lives here at a place called Gawa, the homeland up here. Galiwinku the township, anyone know Galiwinku the township? It’s a pretty large town, about the sixth or seventh largest town in the Northern Territory. Well, she’s about sixty kilometres up here at this little homeland. (Speaking in Yolngu Matha.)

G Ma. Yo, hello everyone. I’m Gotha from Gawa homelands. I live here and I’m retired from teaching. I help in the community. And also I’m a grandmother for kids here.

J Would anybody like to ask a question or two?

S I didn’t hear what your name was.

J I’ll answer that. This lady’s name is Gotha or that’s short for Gothajaka. Any questions about Gawa? What we’re going to do now, we’ve met Gotha. We’re going to turn off Skype and she’s going to tell you a short story that she’s prepared. Is that okay, Gothara.

G Yo.

J So I’ll turn off Skype and then we can open team viewer.


J (Speaking in Yolngu Matha.)

G No, I’m still working on it.

J Ma.

G Yo.

J Connecting to your computer now. So what we’re going to be doing now is we’re going to be seeing Gothara’s screen on her computer coming onto this one. (Speaking in Yolngu Matha.)

G Yeah.

J (Speaking in Yolngu Matha) ID.

G 134009792.


J We’ve been finding that sometimes at this time of the day, because of the traffic it seems to be difficult. What’s your password?

G 5157.

J So I’ve tested this today a couple of times and it worked okay and over the last couple of weeks. Now, this is Gothara’s screen coming up. Would you like to open your Powerpoint and tell us the story?


G Mmm-hmm. I’ll start off with my grandson Mukuyuk. He is six and this is the time that, it’s the time for turtle eggs when they come out and lay their eggs along the beach. So you can see him walking along the beach to see if he can find any turtle tracks. And we find that if end of G… wet season and … starting … (Speaking in Yolngu Matha.) And this is the time when young boys or girls go out and start looking for turtle. And it’s easy for them. Bilna is easy for little kids like four or five years old, they can find it easily because they were taught by following and listening to the old people. That’s why he is on his own. That is picture number one. Any questions … or bainu?

J Any questions from people, please, Gotha will hear you if you speak loudly enough. (Speaking in Yolngu Matha.)

S1 Yeah, I have a question. What’s that little boy going to do with the turtle eggs? Eat them?

J Did you hear that?

G No.

J Say that again, Anabelle.

S1 What’s that little boy going to do with the turtle eggs?

G He’s going to bring back home for us to eat, and share with the families.

S1 Are you going to fry them or boil them?

G Boil them. And sometimes we leave (no/some) eggs for like hatching, for following year, you know.

S1 Oh.

G We you don’t take all of them.

S1 Thank you.

J Gothara.

G Yo.


J Michael was just asking do you think you can show these as a slide show?

G Ma, okay. Yo. Can you see that?

M Gulki gulki.

J It should be coming soon.

T Ah no.

J It’s quit out. Can you quit out of your team viewer? We’ll try and do it quickly and go through the other slides. So can you quit out of team viewer and I’ll quit out here and we’ll start again.


J Has yours started?

G Yo, quit already.

J And can you restart it again, please?

G Ma, okay.

J This is free software. None of it is software that we’ve had to buy but it’s free so that people can access it wherever they are.

G Yo.

T Has that baby got a box of bullets?

J Connecting. I’ll try again, connecting to you.

T Have you go the right ID?

J Yep.


J I’ll try one more time. It’s not working.

G Mmm.

J I’ll try another time and if we can’t do it. I think what I was doing, I think I was going too quickly then. What’s your ID Gothara?

G 134009792.

J Thank you. I’ll try and connect again.


J It’s taking a long time. Oh no, it’s getting there.

G Yo.

J It’s coming I think.

G Yeah.

J It’s slow. What’s your password Gothara?

G 8847.


J Here it comes.

G Ma.

M Do you think that me asking them to make the pictures speak was what made it crash out or was that just a coincidence?

T It could have been a surge of data changing the whole, it could have been.

J Is your Powerpoint still open?

G Bainu. Can you start it from your end? Desktop …

J It’s easier if we keep it open.

G Ma.

J That way it doesn’t take extra time or energy from the computer.

G Ma. You want me to open it up?

J (Speaking in Yolngu Matha.)

G Ma. Powerpoint?

J Powerpoint.

G Ma.

J (Speaking in Yolngu Matha.)

G Bainu. Mine’s not opening yet.

J (Speaking in Yolngu Matha.)

G Yo, it’s opening.

J So this turtle hunt collecting that she’s talking about is happening now. So it’s not as if it happened last year or last month. It’s happening now. The little boy, her grandson walking along the beaches, looking for turtle eggs.


G So there are three or four kinds of turtle. Binar, Galiwar, Maruka and Baripu. The other three, they can find it easy but B… is a bit tricky.

J What did you say? What turtles?

G Binar, Galiwar, Maruka and Baripu. I don’t know the English name.

J Is it open on your computer?

G Yes, it’s open.

J I don’t know what’s happened here.

M Can you refresh, is there a refresh thing?

J It’s interesting. It’s frozen I think. No, it’s frozen here.

M Did you get a copy of that thing, the Powerpoint?

J No…

T (Yes there is.)

J Good.

G (Speaking in Yolngu Matha.)

J One of the other grandchildren has just walked in so she’s saying I’m working, I’m working. Can you go to the next slide, Gothara?

G Mmm-hmm.

J It’s very slow now and I think it’s because as you were saying Trevor, the speed of everybody going home and using their computers on the eastern seaboard or wherever. We usually find it takes about ten seconds for a new screen to come through.

G Yo, I’m on the second picture.

J We haven’t got it yet but I hope it’s coming soon.

G Yo.



T Gotha, can I ask a question?

G Yo.

T It’s Trevor here. Your grandson, is it safe for him to go and do that by himself or should he go with somebody else?

G Sometimes with me or by himself. Often he plays just in front of our beach and he goes down there by himself and pick up the Dilba, so he’s good at that. He’s been watching us and learning but now he can do it by himself.

J The second slide is here now Gothara.

G Yo.

S2 I have a question.


J We just might wait. I think Gothara is going to talk and then could you ask your question in a moment? Gothara (Speaking in Yolngu Matha.)


G Yo. So this is Binar track. It’s easy. Anybody can find that. And this is, you can see this seaweed here coming, this is where the turtle comes in and lay eggs here, somewhere here. And when the kids or when we come, we just pick up that steel and poke it round here and we find the turtles here. We used to have problem with goanna but not many goannas left.

J Did you want to ask a question now if you speak loudly?

S2 My question is do they have a tradition or technique to keep their eggs for long? Like, in Indonesia we have to keep like a duck egg or chicken egg we put ash to get a bit soft and then we wrap the eggs like that and then we leave it for fifteen days, so we can keep the, we can still consume for a longer time, because most of us, if we are living in the village, we don’t have refrigerator to keep the eggs.

J Did you hear that, Gothara?

G Bainu.

J You were asked, do you have a way for keeping the eggs for a longer time once you have dug them up? To keep them so you can eat them maybe one or two or three weeks later?

G No. Maybe three or four days and we share the turtles, like… (Speaking in Yolngu Matha.) Often we take some turtle eggs to family in Galiwinku.

J I’ll just click. Number three is it?

G Number three. Yo.

J Is it coming up on your screen?

G Yo, it’s on now, number three.

S1 Can I ask a question.

J Would you like to come a bit closer so you can actually ask …, I prefer if Gothara can (look at) you.

S1 Hi, can you hear me okay? (Laughing.)

J Talk in the phone.

S1 Hi.

G (Speaking in Yolngu Matha.)

S1 Does it matter how developed the embryo and the egg is, or how do you find out if it’s.

G There’s different, when the egg is laid maybe one night, we call that (Brawiyal). And when the eggs have started to make like a baby we call that hang on, I forgot the name. Not yet but (Ruwal), baby come like water inside and start to make little, like … water inside. (Brawiyal, Ruwal). And then (Wanimil), that’s we call the baby is inside the eggs maybe four weeks old, depending when we get there, how many days. Three stages before they can get, have (Yothu). Am I right or …?

J Good.

S1 And does it matter which ones you pick up or doesn’t it matter at all?

G Hang on, I didn’t get that.

S1 Does it matter which ones you take?

G Doesn’t matter whether it’s (Ruwal, Brawiyal or Yothumil), we eat them all.

S1 Thanks.

J Can we see the next slide?


J Oh, haven’t we?

G That’s my grandson, little one, (Nulada), number two grandson, he gave him that steel and said to him you try this, poke the sand, and that’s what he’s trying and I’m watching him. So that when that steel bar goes straight into the sand, that’s where the egg is. Next picture.

J Yo.


G And that picture is we found the eggs and we are digging the eggs to put them in the bucket and take it home and cook it. That’s me and my two.

J We can’t see it yet.

M (Speaking Yolngu Matha.)

G Sorry. Too fast…


J Still coming, it hasn’t come yet.

G Ma.

J It’s much slower, so it’s handling the slow speed okay.

M (Speaking Yolngu Matha.)

G Yo, we found the eggs now. We’re digging and we’re going to put them in the bucket.

? (Speaking Yolngu Matha.)

G Yo, and this is the last picture.

J Can you tell us when it appears on your screen?

G Yes, it’s on my laptop.

M Ah, there it is. That was only … minutes.


J Yep it’s there.

G Ma.


G So Binar, anybody can find that once you learn how to look for this one. We call that binar. And I haven’t got the picture for other one, (B… pur). That other (B…pur), he won’t be able to find. It’s very hard. Often they may be four or five (full nest.) And now he’s learning the skills. So he’s been learning a lot. On the country you’ve got listening, going out with old man, (Maigurung), fishing, other things. So that’s one of his, now he’s starting to learn how to find turtle eggs and he knows the difference between Dhuwa and Yirritja turtles. Big eggs or little eggs.

J We’ve got another question, Gothara.

S3 Hi, Gothara, I’m just wondering approximately, thank you.

J We’ve got another question, Gothara.

G Ma.

S3 Hello Gothara. My name is Helen. I wanted to ask, so all those eggs, do they come from the one turtle?

G Yes, they all come from one turtle.

S3 Must be a big turtle.

M Small eggs.

G That’s the … , the middle sized one. (Baripur) is much bigger.

S3 How many times can you get the eggs?

G (Speaking Yolngu Matha.)

J How many times do you find the eggs? How many times? Right through the year?

G No. Starting now, until Dry Season starts, then we have in some places, like (Stevens) Island, they lay eggs all through the year, but here only (Mirawar) when it gets to June or July, they stop laying eggs along the beach here at Gawa.

S3 Yo, thank you.

J (Speaking Yolngu Matha.)

G Ma, … (Speaking Yolngu Matha.)

J (Speaking Yolngu Matha.)

G Yeah.

M Yo, thank you very much.

G (Speaking Yolngu Matha.)

S (all) Thank you.

G Yo.

M More next time.

J Yeah, another story coming. (Speaking Yolngu Matha.)

G Ma.

(Gotha hung up.)

J Interesting? Would you like to have more sessions like that?

S Yeah.

J Can I ask you, what did you like about that?

S I liked the storytelling and the ability to pick up the meanings of the words as a result of the storytelling.

J Did you feel any connection because she was talking from her country, did that make any difference do you think?

S Especially the fact that it’s kind of happening now when they’re … for things.

S Yeah, that’s the best bit I think, having this hear and now that she’s talking; because normally if someone tells you, they’re talking you about something that’s happened a while ago, you know. But she said this is happening now and that was cool.

S It’s like you’re there with her really because these questions you ask are the questions you would ask if you were walking along the beach with her, so it gives that feeling of well, how many eggs would I find and so on and so on. So it’s like you’re having that walk along the beach.

J Did it help to meet her first with the picture of her sitting there with the …?

S Yeah.

S John, I would like it if you could see her more than the slide picture, or can you have the screen so she’s in one half of the screen and the picture’s in the other half. I think I’d feel a lot of the time better to be looking at the person speaking than the picture, and that I guess takes greater advantage of the technology that we’re using.

J I think we will try that next time but we will try not to put too much pressure on this thing, and her satellite connection.

S Oh.

J Because we have tried it at this time of day before and we’ve had numerous cut offs and we’ve thought it’s maybe related to the amount of information that needs to go backwards and forwards, so that’s why we’re using the phone as well.

S I see, I was tricked.

S You thought you were on Skype connection…

S I thought it was all through the computer and the phone on it and …

S No because originally it was on Skype and they stopped Skype so that we could go to the Powerpoint because the two together was too much.

J Because we wanted you to meet Gothara, Gotha, and we wanted her to meet you and so she could see you through here, on her screen.

S Could she?

J Yes. Yes, and that was the point of it so that she knew who she was talking to, because it wouldn’t be as comfortable knowing when you’re speaking to people where they are and where they’re sitting and… So is it worth doing again?

S Yep.

M I might just say a couple of things. If you look on that website, you’ll see how there has been work already, quite a bit of work done trying to sort out the whole thing about the technical arrangements. The reason why for example we use that little external modem is that the university said that we’re not allowed to use Skype so we actually had to use that to circumvent the university’s system and it might be once we turn off the Skype, better to try to go into the university’s internet system for the team viewer. There’s a whole lot of technical stuff that’s going on. And it’s actually quite interesting the way that the political and the technical also come together and we are trying to look at it in that way. The other thing is that Gotha’s story about the turtles. There was actually a reason why she tells the story about the turtles. It’s something to do with the nature of knowledge and identity and if you look on the website, again, you’ll find a place where she actually talks about how she’s, in another time when she was in Darwin, talking about gifted and talented children and how we should understand them, how she used this same story of the turtle. So there’s deep levels of meaning in there, that she would hopefully get a chance to talk about if it went on for.

J Yeah, but also with other Yolngu expecting that Yolngu would understand there are much deeper levels in that story.

M Yes, yes.

J That she doesn’t need to explain that to other relatives because they know the other deeper levels of that story.

M Yeah, so it’s interesting what she expects you guys to understand and it’s interesting what you kind of expect her to understand and the ways in which you make those negotiations together as part of the teaching practice.

J Well.

M We’d better let you go.

J I’d better get on with teaching.

End of Recording.