Play tracks journey of iconic train
A regional tour of a children’s play celebrating the history of an iconic Pilbara train and its links to local indigenous culture has begun this week.
Interactive puppet play All Aboard The Spinifex Express, which was developed by IBN Aboriginal Corporation, Regional Development Australia Pilbara and the WA Council of Social Service, and debuted at the Karijini Experience earlier this year, launched at Soul Cafe in Karratha on Friday on its way to travelling to 11 different Pilbara towns and communities.
It will show in Roebourne, Karratha, Onslow, Dampier, Tom Price, Paraburdoo, Newman, Nullagine, Marble Bar, Warralong and South Hedland over the next five weeks.
Director Cate Fowler said the play, aimed at children six and under, was based on a Nymal “japi song” (folk song) about iconic Pilbara train the Spinifex Express, which transported mail, water and other everyday necessities from Marble Bar to Port Hedland from 1911 to the early 1950s.
Cast members Nora Cooke and Ninian Donald said with original songs, custom-made puppets and three Pilbara indigenous languages all part of the play, it was entertaining for children and adults alike. Donald said framing the show around the train’s journey from station to station struck a chord with children.
“Children understand journeys,” he said. “So they might not quite get the whole idea of the train… but they understand the journey and they understand going from one place to another and you see things along the way. That’s what they can grab hold of.”
Speaking at the launch, IBN chief executive Tony McRae said one of the most exciting aspects of the tour show was its inclusion of a series of extra workshops on child wellbeing and education on indigenous culture.
“This (show’s) going to be like this caravan meandering around the Pilbara, dropping into communities that haven’t seen this kind of thing, if ever, for many many years,” he said.
“We’re adding yoga in language, health outreach work, and links to (educational specialists) and health workers and the arts communities in ways that we’ve never seen done, in my experience in the Pilbara, in this way before.”
All Aboard The Spinifex Express director Cate Fowler and cast members James Taylor, Nora Cooke, Ninian Donald and Noni Dunstone.