Children live in Pormpuraaw. They can be found in many places around here. You don’t have to look far even if you’re just driving into town. They could be playing marbles on the road, throwing rocks at certain trees to get the fruit down or chasing one another around the yard. Sometimes a bang on a roof or a pole tells you someone might even be using a slingshot.

They can be seen in their family’s car, heading down to the river for a fish or maybe a play in the sand or even a splash in the shallows. They can be walking with their friends, slowly ambling along, talking and laughing (and they really like to laugh!) or down town at the shop with a fistful of money, buying treats for themselves or their siblings. They might be seen riding on rip sticks or throwing a ball to each other over at the tennis courts. Maybe even playing a game of football and that is worth watching! Wherever it is, it’s all about moving, going, activity, and action.

Even at school today, I saw six, maybe seven boys following each other in a line, holding up a piece of elastic all around them making train noises as they walked past me. Then of course there were the girls over by the shady tree using their elastic in the right way—jumping over it, trying not to touch it as it gets put up higher and higher.

Pormpuraaw children are busy just being children even if it means doing all those things in the hot sun with the dry wind on their faces and sand all over their legs and arms. That’s the fun of it. Keeping on going until you’re tired, dirty, but satisfied and ready for a “feed.” They certainly know how to make the most of the day. There’s no ending with these children when it comes to play. Not even the occasional drop of rain or a cranky parent’s cajoling.

In this town, there are many benefits for these children in the shape of physical facilities and organisations. Government services mostly. There’s a large sports hall where they can play games, an After School Care building where resources are the recent and the latest. Then there’s the occasional movie night down at the Clinic and of course the organised holiday activities to keep children busy when school is in recess. Much to their chagrin though, there is no pool. Saltwater (and its not so friendly inhabitants) is the only option for swimming. If you dare!

As money is poured into Pormpuraaw and many “good things” are put into place, there still remains the same old issues, as in every Cape York community and the children are always affected by it. Late nights spent watching unsuitable TV shows or listening to family members fight means less interest or concentration the next day at school. Unreasonable amounts of money spent on non-nutritious food and then consumed, means that little bodies need medical attention. Lack of attendance at school means low levels of abilities and fewer chances for future education at High School or elsewhere.

There have always been “solutions” tossed around, some tried, some given up on, some encouraged, and some lasting for a reasonable time. As we know, until there is a real change of heart in the lives of people, there will be no lasting work done. Only the cross of Christ will suffice. Only the gospel will prevail.

Tedd Tripp in his book Shepherding a Child’s Heart says in the introduction, “The law of God is not easy for natural man. Its standard is high and cannot be achieved apart from God’s supernatural grace. God’s law teaches us our need of grace. When you fail to hold out God’s standard, you rob your children of the mercy of the gospel.” May God give us opportunities to hold out His standard to those young ones around us that we are with everyday. That they may come to know the God of the gospel, trust in His work on the cross, and live God-fearing lives for him.

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About Alana Milson

Alana is a primary school teacher. She and her husband, David lived in Cairns for over 17 years but are now living in Cape York in a remote Aboriginal community. Alana enjoys teaching in many different capacities, reading missionary biographies and pursuing biblical womanhood.


  1. Steve 2 November, 2010 at 2:18 pm - Reply

    Great post, it really hit home. Having done some youth work in Aboriginal communities in the past and now with the health system, I can relate to what you are seeing up there.

    God has obviously placed you there for a reason, as you said the gospel is the only solution that will bring lasting change, not only to them but to everyone.

  2. Ben 8 November, 2010 at 6:47 pm - Reply

    Enjoying your writing on Pormpuraaw — thanks.

  3. Sarah 10 November, 2010 at 7:09 pm - Reply

    We loved your description of Pormpuraaw. Can’t believe there are no safe opportunities to swim! May you be encouraged as you keep serving Him there in the way you teach, care and love the children. Good on ya Az xxx

  4. Lyn 13 November, 2010 at 1:44 pm - Reply

    I can just see all those kids doing the things you describe even though I’ve never been there. I can hear the laughter. Some things just lodge in your mind and stay forever! X Mum

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