By ROD MOSS
Charles Loo-Hayes, Jacquita Palmer, Sylvester Webb, and Ronja and Raffi [Moss] sit in the Bitter Springs creekbed near Alice Springs as Arranye describes the fundamental aspects of the Headband Dreaming, visible in the high cliff of the distant range. At his back, but out of frame, is an important cleft in the cliff marking urltampe, a bush honey site.
Arranye led me here in the early ’90s, the first of many trips that would take place in subsequent years. From here we travelled to the abandoned Arltunga goldfields where, with other Arrernte, he’d been shifted from the Anthelke Ulpaye / Charles Creek town camp during WW2. The Catholics established a mission there.
When residual cyanide toxins in Paddys Waterhole from gold mining were recognised as the cause of the alarming death rate, Arltunga mission shifted to the 1250km2 of Crown Land adjacent to Alambi Station and rebranded as Santa Teresa. In 1977 the mission handed control over to the Arrernte and the name changed to Ltyentye Apurte.
Arranye guided me to atnarpe, close to Arltunga, where he’d been initiated.
He also showed the overgrown cemetery of unmarked Arrernte graves dating from the failed mission days.
The Johnsons were connected to old Walter Smith, subject of master historian, Dick Kimber’s Man From Arltunga, which brings to life the times, the region and its people.