The Yuendumu Diaries – Nick Larkey

Late last year, a group of six footballers took a trip to the remote town of Yuendumu, located three hours north-west of Alice Springs, to take part in a Red Dust health promotion tour, through the AFL Players Care program. As part of the trip, Trent Dumont, Courtney Cramey, Jarman Impey, Nick Larkey, Alicia Janz and Ally Anderson documented their experiences for Over the course of the next week, you can read about what they learned and experienced. Here is Nick’s diary entry. 


This trip was a spur of the moment decision for me.

We were having a team lunch and I asked Trent Dumont what he was doing for the next week of our break and he mentioned going on a trip with Red Dust to Yuendumu.

I knew about Red Dust through (North Melbourne teammates) Jy Simpkin and Jamie Macmillan, who went last year, and I was doing nothing for the next week and somehow we conjured up the idea that I’d go along.

I’d been to Central Australia and up north before with my family, and I just love the landscape so I thought, ‘Why not come along?’

I didn’t know it’d be that much of a cultural experience.

We learned so much about the problems that exist there, Indigenous culture and the history of the place.

We tend to think we know a lot about it, but not many who are removed from these communities actually do. It was only the tip of the iceberg, but I’ve already learned so much from the experience.

On Tuesday, we woke up, went to the school around 8.30am, and played around with the kids before school started. They’re all happy to see us and the attendance rates go through the roof when Red Dust are in town so there were a heap of kids there, especially after lunchtime.

The morning session consists of a sport block, where the children would break up into groups and rotate through footy, soccer, basketball and other sports.

So Trent and myself went out and did some footy drills and goal kicking.

When they were outside kicking the footy, that’s when they seemed most engaged from my perspective.

There was a teaching block next and I went and helped the kids with activities such as learning some news, guessing where it came from and learning more about that particular country.

Recess went for 15 minutes so that meant more sport for us, followed by their main teaching block before lunch.

I was involved in helping the kids pick out some Christmas gifts for each other via the Kmart website and ensuring they stayed within budget.

More sport followed after lunch for an hour and a half before the end of the day.

After that we headed to a place called Juka Juka, a sacred site about 20 minutes out of Yuendumu where two Dreamtimes came together to create a rock formation. We went there with some Indigenous elders and their children, sat around the campfire, ate some kangaroo tail and damper, which was unreal.

We were welcomed to the town by the local police officer, Derek. We watched the sun go down, played with some kids and ate so it was a perfect way to end the day.

Before I went on the trip, I thought I had some of the answers for the Indigenous people in those communities or how we can help them.

But I quickly found out that most of the things I had been thinking about had already been explored.

I remember Alan Palmer, a community liaison from Red Dust, spoke about the problem of rubbish in the community. There is a lot of rubbish around and from most people’s perspectives that’s obviously a messy trait, but the problem is bigger than there just being a whole lot of rubbish around.

I actually think I came back with more questions than I had answers about Indigenous culture and their way of life.

It was hard for me to grasp what it is they actually want because it’s about maintaining their history, culture and lifestyle.

But they also need education and support.

My favourite moment was when we first rocked up to the school on Monday and this girl came up and gave us all a massive hug. She didn’t even know who we were.

It’s one of the best experiences I’ve had.

It was humbling and very informative.

It’s important we do everything we can to understand our history as a country. People lived here a lot longer than we did and there’s so much history to seek out and respect.

It’s personally rewarding to go up there and see it for yourself. The kids have so much talent, too. They love their footy and they can seriously play.

Overall, it was a great experience and I’d recommend it to anyone.