A Long Weekend that has lasted 10 years

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It’s a typical ‘it could only happen here’ story: A Long Weekend that started in 2013 and is still going strong.

It’s a comic book, with words by Craig San Roque and drawings by Joshua Santospirito and won the 2013 NT Literary Award.

Red Kangaroo Books in Alice Springs is the only place in the world where you can buy it. Three thousand copies have already been sold.

The fifth print run will hopefully get sorted, as Josh puts it.

A podcast radio play version with Christopher Brocklebank’s Italk Studios is due for a first hearing on 8CCC soon.

What’s the book all about? Ah well, that would be giving things away, wouldn’t it, but  this review by KIERAN FINNANE back in the day will give you a pretty good idea.

As things are quite frequently back-to-front in The Alice, we can give you a brand new ending written by Craig (below) and a brand new drawing by Josh (at top)

The dog trots thru the gap … another fight is brewing.

It’s Monday night the long weekend is over. The lizards have been eaten, the Warlpiri have all left, the ashes are cold, there is no food in the house.

We believe we are individuals but we have already been swallowed by stomachs bigger than ourselves – these are the cultural complexes.

Another fight is brewing.

And I say – is this how the story goes, over and over again?

What if – the great What If – what if I step out of the cycle that puts the girl in the hospital, the dying sniffer in the abandoned car, the traveller’s dog, dead on the backseat?

Some people say Alice / Mparntwe is the belly button / the navel of the country.  And I remember the Mother Dog in the story. I remember the day an Arrernte work mate  and I went to see old man Rubuntja – the man who made the book,  The Town Grew Up Dancing. We are standing on a corner exchanging  news, then Mr Rubuntja says to me: “What do you want to know, sonny boy ?” (He always called us ‘sonny boy’).

I say: “Is that dog fight all there is – the guts across Larapinta, the death on the hill?”

He looks northeast – he says: “There are more stories around here.  Over that way  n the Coolabah trees – Ankerre Ankerre – the Coolabah women are dancing – they bring  out the Caterpillar babies. And over that way the Dog Mothers are dancing. Nobody told you that, boy. The women danced that ceremony here in Alice Springs before the white people.  Why are they dancing, boy? I tell you. They are dancing  to bring on more milk. They are dancing together to feed the puppies.The women carried that dance in the old days.

“You got to feed the puppies, boy – you  and all your families now. That’s your job now, boy. Feed the puppies. Feed the puppies.”

Comment

In our Long Weekend story a man outside the Todd Tavern tells his mate  that the Dog Fight is part of Mparntwe / Alice Springs.  The rape of the mother dog, the intruder  ripping the puppies, the fight – that action will always be here: “We can’t get away from it,” he says.

So OK,  maybe the Dog Fight and the grieving is always part of the life of here, under the shadow of the Dog.  Maybe the story sites do have a life of their own, holding Altjerre always – even if people forget.  However, the  Dog Story also lives in the minds of people.  People can change their minds around, people can imagine different endings – if only we can get out of the grip of the same old story, over and over again. So OK,  puppies need feeding – with real food, real care, real challenge to help kids grow.  I never knew a puppy that grew up strong by being underfed – by being chained – by  fear – by whipping and turning a blind eye to them. So Mr Rubuntja, I might have asked back then: “How do we feed these puppies ?“

CSR.  21 May 2023

3 COMMENTS

  1. After reading Craig’s additional ending to the Long Weekend, I thought I would share it with my teaching colleagues at our school located close to two of the sites old man Rubuntja pointed to – the Coolabah trees – Ankerre Ankerre and the caterpillar egg sites dotted around the Sadadeen area.
    As I read this story, I was not prepared for the wave of emotions that hit me.
    It felt like the stories landed in me and I in them – that it wasn’t like the telling of a single story.
    I stopped reading as I was close to tears. As my words became thin air, I had the realisation that we all were in the thick of these fighting, dancing, life and death stories whether we knew it or not.
    Thanks Craig. Thanks Josh.

  2. Thank you to the teacher who has the courage to tell such things on a public record.
    As it says in the Long Weekend in Alice story: “Sites do things to people …”
    It’s a mystery to me how that happens really but yes, we are all in the thick of it. Good to read your comment.

  3. All the words above make me so happy, an emotional happiness, to live in Mparntwe and have known and worked with Mr Rubentja whose double meaning words always filled me in awe.

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