And among the steel houses and dust, the splash of bright colours stands out like the proverbials on a camp dog.
The small water park opened yesterday at Hodgson Downs, a 550-strong Aboriginal community about 60km south east of Mataranka. In Alawa Kriol it’s called Wadabirr Billa Pul – the goanna billabong.
Alawa Aboriginal Corporation chief executive officer Ken Muggeridge said it was there for the health benefits – and the fun.
“It is the first one to be built on an Aboriginal community and I’m sure it will not be the last,” he said.
“Hodgson Downs community is a community of 540 indigenous people the water park was 3 years of hard work for the community to put together. While the Federal Government contributed $85,000 towards building the park the people of Hodgson Downs contributed around $400,000 of their own money so the tax payer only put in a small amount of the money needed to build the park and many people of the community are also tax payers. What % of Gov funding was Palmerston and Leayner water parks.”
“Not everybody believed in the park. Not everybody wanted it to be built.”
“There’s some people who said if it was their decision they never would have funded the park.”
“I’m glad, we’re really lucky, that those people didn’t have the decision.”
Sunrise Health Service centre manager Tracey Demaio said she hoped the chlorine would reduce illness affecting learning – skin sores, ear and eye infections and gastroenteritis.
They are spread by swimming in the billabong.
By 7am yesterday, kids were nagging for the tiny pool-less park to open – but had to wait for the pollies and media to roll in.
The park is five slides and three “rain trees” – giant mushrooms that pour water.
Federal member and Indigenous Health Minister Warren Snowdon praised the “great partnership” initiated by the community.
“It is true this is a great partnership, a great partnership that was initiated by the community,” he said.
Pictures: JUSTIN SANSON