A Tiwi Islands adventure, by Laura Harris

A Tiwi Islands adventure, by Laura Harris

"...Uniting children with books and there was pure joy in that exchange." A visit to the Tiwi Islands with ILF, through the eyes of Laura Harris, from one of our great supporters, Penguin Random House. 

I’m a city girl – born and bred Sydney – so how is it that under the cover of a star-filled inky sky I came to face-off with three wild horses?

I have the ILF to thank and the hospitality of the Tiwi people for five incredible days spent on Melville Island, a place like nowhere Id ever been before.

Arriving at Darwin airport, the Tiwi Island ILF Ambassadors gathered tentatively yet excitedly; introductions were made, familiar kisses were exchanged between some, but a childish nervousness and thrill immediately united us all as we approached the “other” airport together… yes, those teeny tiny planes would be ferrying us across the sea to Milikapiti... nothing says adventure more than fear mixed with anticipation.

And it was a grand adventure… way beyond that first flight we shared together.

Meeting with teachers, parents and children and watching our authors and illustrators in workshops with the children of Milikapiti School was inspiring. Stories and drawings and songs were encouraged and shared. Laughter rang our throughout the day, even before there was cooked turtle on the menu for us to try (quite tasty by the way). It was a first-hand look at what the ILF is all about – uniting children with books and there was pure joy in that exchange.

So what about those wild horses? That encounter happened at Tiwi College.

While on a midnight walk to the amenities block, torch in hand, thoughts of my day with the senior Tiwi College girls still whirring in my brain, and mesmerized by the sky above me, I heard neighing.  I’d scoffed talk of buffalos and other creatures near our lodgings the night before by my fellow Ambassadors, thinking they were only teasing really, but there they were, a few meters from me, also checking out the amenities block it seemed, three wild horses.

And it was incredible; they were beautiful and tentative and curious and I stood still and watched them watch me…  one of many surprises in a week of so many.

Beauty and curiosity filled the week, and so did laughter - we laughed a lot. Sometimes out of fear – there really were crocodiles everywhere – and sometimes because the kids were just too delightful that we couldn’t hold back. And while much hard work and long hours were put in, it’s the conversations and sharing and curiosity that were the most contagious.

I came home having been given way more than I gave.

  • Posted 12 May, 2017