Kulini Kulini bush camp (2003)

Kulini Kulini – Are you listening?

Bush Camp at 10 mile creek Coober Pedy, South Australia  – by Flora McMorrin

3 days in the desert left us feeling inspired as over 200 campaigners and activists from many different communities, races and ages made the long trip to Ten Mile Bush Camp, near Coober Pedy. The aim was to share ideas and gain a deeper understanding of the issues surrounding the proposed nuclear waste dump, near Woomera in SA.

The Kupa Piti Kunga Tjuta (a council of Senior Aboriginal Women based in Coober Pedy) called this gathering Kulini Kulini- which means “are you listening?” They felt that 50 years on from the first atomic bomb test at Emu Fields it was time to get people to visit the land, talk about the proposed dump and listen to sad but inspiring stories from survivors of nuclear testing.

The Kungkas told of being rounded up and taken from their home with no explanation and eventually returning to a poisoned land. The radioactive cloud travelled far beyond the testing range. Tales of radiation sickness, blindness and death offered an insight into the injustices suffered by these people and gave us a feeling for the strength of opposition to the proposed nuclear waste dump on their land.

On the last night of the camp the Kunkgas and local Tjilpies performed Inmar – ceremony. All the women at the gathering were invited to learn the dance of the seven sisters creation. This wasn’t the most practised of performances but was a great opportunity to share culture and laugh together.

Friends of the Earth along with many willing volunteers helped out by organising a veggie kitchen at the camp, everything was cooked on site and the food kept every ones tummy’s quiet while the stories where told. A special thankyou to Ila Marks, Eric Miller, Flora Mc Morrin, Alex Gotsi, Dimity Hawkins, Cath Keaney, Jeremy Salad and Loretta O’Brien for all their hard work.

Nuclear Testing Testimonials 

“All of us were living with the Government used the Country for the Bomb.  Some of us were living at Twelve Mile, just out of Coober Pedy.  The smoke was funny and everything looked hazy.  Everybody got sick.  Other people were at Mabel Creek and many people got sick.  Some people were living at Wallatinna.  Other people got moved away.  Whitefellas and all got sick.  When were were young, no woman got breast cancer or any other kind of cancer.  Cancer was unheard of.  And no asthma either, we were people without sickness.” - Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta

Yankunytjatjara man Yami Lester, who was camped at Wallatina in 1953, remembers a ‘black mist’ rolling through the mulga scrub: ‘coming from the south, black-like smoke. I was thinking it might be a dust storm, but it was quiet, just moving’. After the passage of the mist, the Wallatina camp was devastated by sudden deaths, outbreaks of skin rashes, vomiting, diarrhea, and cases of temporary and permanent blindness. (from Eve Vincent’s article –Silence and Speech- remembering South Australia’s nuclear history)

Origially published in FoE Melbourne newsletter, Spring 2003