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Jo takes on the challenge of basket weaving and exploring Hancock Gorge (not at the same time!)

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Blog - Things to do in the North West

How an artistically challenged individual gave basket weaving a go and loved it!

by Jo Durbridge | Jul 08, 2015


Following a visit to Tom Price I headed to Karijini National Park for the The Karijni Experience. I was very much looking forward to this four day event organised to showcase everything from opera to cooking amongst the stunning scenery of Karijini National Park.

But first things first!  Let me tell you about the accommodation.  I was staying in one of the Deluxe Eco Tents at Karijini Eco Retreat.  With a huge bed and an ensuite I was set for the next few days. Glamping at its best! 

 Karijini Eco Retreat Deluxe Tent

The interior of the Duluxe Eco Tent - it even had an ensuite!

Karijini Landscape, Pilbara

Serene Pilbara landscapes surround Karijini Eco Retreat.

Unseasonal rain decided to make an appearance that first evening, but that didn't deter the audience from attending the Acoustic Jam Session featuring local musicians resulting in everyone dancing by the end of the night.  Snacking from an antipasto platter, I unwound, enjoyed the music and slept soundly in my tent that night.

I woke up the next day to rain and headed over to the restaurant. The DPAW Ranger Walk was cancelled due to the weather and it was also recommended skipping the gorges as it can be unsafe and slippery after night's downpour. I spent some time chatting to Ranger Dan who gave me some great advice on what gorges to see in the short amount of time I had (watch out for my blog post on the gorges coming soon!) 

So what was I to do on this rainy morning?  Well one of the event organisers convinced me to attend the Martumili Basket Weaving.  Not having an artistic bone in my body I tentatively agreed.  We all got cosy in a tent, sitting in a circle as the Martumili ladies showed us their beautiful baskets and demonstrated how to create one for ourselves.  I loved it!  It was so relaxing weaving for hours, it was somehow meditative.

Martumili Basket Weaving

One of the participants learning the weaving techniques.

These wonderful ladies are part of a group of amazing artists living in the communities of Parnpajinya (Newman), Jigalong, Parnngurr, Punmu, Kunawarritji, Irrungadji and Warralong, 

Hand woven basket

A large basket made by one of the Martumili ladies.  A basket of this size sells for approximately $AU700 and after spending five hours weaving a very small basket I can see why - it takes time and a great deal of technique to produce something as beautiful as this.

At the end of the session I held up my my small grey wonky basket and said aloud that it resembled a dead mouse!  The Martumilli ladies chuckled but were very kind with their comments and very encouraging. I wouldn't mind giving it another go in the future. The other participants in the class (who were not craft impaired like myself) produced some stunning baskets.

Basket weaving workshop

Basket weaving students and teachers gather outside the tent to show off the morning's weaving.

Coulourful baskets

 Top of the class for these students, with their beautiful handmade baskets.

I thoroughly enjoyed learning the art of basket weaving from the Martumili artists, and if you ever get the opportunity to participate in a workshop I highly recommend it.



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