Yiligawu – ‘I’m alright now, I’m ready’ (but it isn’t exactly true).

I leave for the Northern territory on Monday morning, to start my third fieldtrip, the longest one yet, at a lazy 8 weeks. Unfortunately, work has been considerably busy over the last week, tying up all the loose ends, making sure I’ve finished any jobs I was working on, et cetera. After all that, there hasn’t been too much time left over to actually prepare for my fieldwork.

Plus, the price of gold makes things considerably more difficult. What has it got to do with the price of fish gold, I hear you ask? Accommodation, that’s what. Pine Creek is a gold mining town from way back, 1850 or so. In it’s heyday, the town was bursting at the seams with gold-diggers and the population was in the thousands. Then, the gold ran out, or more accurately, the nuggets ran out; there’s plenty of gold left in the soil, but it’s expensive to process. The town all but collapsed to a small blip on the map, nestled somewhere behind the intersection of the Stuart and Jabiru highways.

Only since the price of gold has shot through the roof in recent years has it actually been worthwhile to process the ‘tailings’ – as the dirt is referred to – to extract whatever minuscule trace elements of gold there are. Plus, the resources boom generally means it’s now worthwhile to go deeper into old mines and extract other minerals, like iron ore and copper.

The result? A small town that can really only cope with 500 people at the most (that is, there are only three pubs), is full of miners employed by any one of three global mining corporations, who, among themselves, own all the mines in the area.

Ergo, I can’t find accommodation. That’s what it’s got to do with the price of gold!

Thankfully there are various people in town who know me quite well now and they’re all nice people, so I’m sure I’ll find somewhere to sleep. It’s just going to have to be a matter of getting into town and seeing what I can muster up.

Besides trying to get my accommodation organised, I have to pack, make sure my computer is all ready to go (truth be known, I’m sick to death of the thing; it’s an oversized, heavy, loud thing, which I’ll probably reformat and convertto a linux machine when this fieldtrip is over) and gather together my recording equipment and essential accessories.

I should also be preparing my actual research, but there’s been precious little time left to do so, and I may have to do it in situ. Plus, there’s another speaker in town whom I haven’t previously met, which will be interesting and exciting.

As for the blog, well, I won’t be posting very regularly as the internet speed out there is remarkably slow. But I can get on broadband from an internet café in Katherine, which I’ll probably do every two weeks or so, every time I go to see the footy. Right Wamut?