Issue 8
Monday, 05 October 2020
Charles Darwin University
Student Madison Ambrose works on her woven basket
Student Madison Ambrose works on her woven basket

Marine debris turned into stunning woven baskets

By Carl Pfeiffer

Using discarded marine debris to hand-craft traditional Groote Eylandt woven baskets was one of the highlights for students taking part in a five-day Charles Darwin University course last month. 

The online weaving workshop was run by CDU PhD alumni Aly de Groote and artists from Groote Eylandt’s Anindilyakwa Arts, where students were taught how to craft baskets using discarded fishing “ghost” nets, other ocean debris and bush dyed textiles. 

It was part of a course titled “Natural Resources and Indigenous Livelihoods”, held with the aim of exploring the synergies between natural resource-based enterprise development and Indigenous livelihoods. 

Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods (RIEL) Associate Professor Natasha Stacey organised the course and said the basket weaving exercise was one of many activities students took part in.  

“Students used marine debris collected by rangers out at Groote Eylandt to weave the baskets,” she said.  

“The intensive course provides an opportunity to introduce the students to diverse types of enterprise that Indigenous people are involved in. 

“It’s not just about generating income and profit, but for all the other benefits associated with using natural resources and the environment to create an enterprise.

“The students have been exposed to a whole range of industries and have learnt about the various social, economic and environmental factors involved in developing and supporting Indigenous enterprise development in the Northern Territory.”   

Other aspects of the course involved field trips to the Darwin Aquaculture Centre at Channel Island, where students learnt about an Indigenous oyster program, and a cultural tour with Pudakul Tours at Fogg Dam. 

The two days of field trips were integrated with three days of lectures, guest speakers and group discussions. 

Students also experienced a meeting with Larrakia rangers at Dripstone Cliffs and a visit to the Aboriginal Bush Traders shop in Darwin City.