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Yarning Circle takes shape in Alice

By Patrick Nelson

Student Delwyn Williams painting the Yarning Circle in Alice Springs Student Delwyn Williams painting the Yarning Circle in Alice Springs

Construction of the Yarning Circle at Charles Darwin University’s Alice Springs campus is almost complete, with a team of painters moving in to decorate the floor of the open-air space.

The brainchild of vocational education and training lecturer Kerry Shervey, the Yarning Circle is an informal teaching area that will double as a place for students to “hang out” during breaks.

“Some of our bush students find the campus a bit intimidating, especially those who haven’t been in a formal classroom since their school days,” Ms Shervey said.

"We want them to feel more comfortable while they’re so far from home.”

Ms Shervey, who delivers training in Community Services courses in the Red Centre, said she got the idea from a remote corner of Queensland that had a similar facility.

“Ours will feature a central fire pit to provide warmth in the winter, and a shade sail to keep the worst of the sun off throughout the rest of the year.

“Twelve ‘seat-size’ rocks placed around the perimeter of the circle help frame the space, and also serve as somewhere for people to sit.

“We sourced the rocks from the quarry near Ltyentye Apurte (Santa Teresa), about 80 km southeast of the Alice, so it has a genuine Indigenous connection.”

Ms Shervey said some of her Community Services students from Ltyentye Apurte had decorated the facility with iconic Central Australian Indigenous designs.

“The designs, which include honey ants, snakes and bush bananas, are the work of Francesca McMillan, one of my Community Services students, who stayed on campus last week.”

Ms Shervey said that most of the funding came from CDU’s internal innovation grants program.

“I’m most grateful to my construction colleagues in trades central whose apprentices assisted with laying the concrete.”