July 6, 2018

Calling to country: A family’s experience living in an Aboriginal community

In the spirit of NAIDOC Week, Spectrum team member Sharyn Tambo reflects on the experience she and her family had living in Aboriginal community, Mutitjulu.

Connection to country is an unfathomably profound and sometimes unpredictable pull.   After feeling a ‘calling’, in February 2016, my family and I set off on an amazing adventure to the heart of Australia, to live and work in a remote location near ‘Uluru’ in the Northern Territory. The closest Aboriginal community to the rock is Mutitjulu, with a population of around 300 Anangu people.

We were fortunate to work with young Indigenous employee’s who come from all over Australia to complete traineeships in hospitality and tourism.

Living in an Aboriginal community is like living with one big family .  I immediately felt like “Mum” to the young people, and my family grew from 4 to 104 as we embraced the cultural way.  My 13 year old son Zeek would regularly attend the Recreation Centre where he would play soccer with locals of all ages.   I would often reflect on the organic way of life we experienced daily, where life outside of the workplace was spontaneous, social and a whole lot of fun.

For my family, we believed that our time in the heart of Australia was for a purpose and a reason beyond what we could comprehend at the time.   Through our connections in Melbourne we were able to link people to groups that wanted to invest in the Aboriginal community.  Over time the Mutitjulu Homework Club was supported with extra resources and the local Aged Care Home received hand knitted beanies and scarves for the winter


Many people I meet through my work at Spectrum, who have had long journeys from all over the world, talk of a shared sense of disconnection to the land of their birth, and almost simultaneously, of a deep longing for connection to our wide brown land.  It is with great respect for the first Australian’s and gratitude for the rich experience during our time in Uluru, that I work at Spectrum assisting people from a migrant or refugee background to feel a greater sense of connection to this beautiful land and people.

Written by Sharyn Tambo

Click here to listen to Dreamtime Princess, the newly released song by Sharyn’s son Mitch Tambo