On Sunday, 5 January 2013, many Junior Young Friends from around Australia gathered in friendship to celebrate the 53rd Yearly Meeting of Australian Friends on the University of Canberra campus.
We came together using theatrical games or ‘theatre sports’ to bond and get to know each other. Some JYFs already had strong connections with others and some JYFs were experiencing their first Quaker Yearly Meeting. Soon enough we had formed amazing relationships with everyone.
After that morning, we tumbled into Summer School, learning and re-enacting stories from ‘Adventures in the Spirit’ about Australian Quaker history. Being from separate states, some of us found Canberra’s weather challenging. With no air-con in the JYF space, there was no question that we should all cool down with a water fight. The following day we all went to both the old and new Parliament Houses. We participated in a very special ‘behind the scenes’ tour of new Parliament House with Jo Vallentine. We headed to the Aboriginal Tent Embassy where we heard from David Carline, an Aboriginal Elder, about his culture and we walked around the sacred fire.
Due to the heatwave and catastrophic fire warning, Scottsdale was deemed unsafe. This led to an impromptu camping trip to Gundaroo Park, which the locals kindly made available to us. However, we didn’t escape the extreme heat even there. We were soon surrounded by smoke from horizon to horizon. Luckily, the fire was 70 km away. Exhausted from the extreme heat, we retreated to the river for hours on end. During our time in Gundaroo, we painted the public oval fence, talked to an Aboriginal rainmaker named Rod Mason, threw spears, did archery, lay under the stars and talked about the Backhouse Lecture, and visited the Toynes’ house which had burnt down (two years ago).
Following the camp we went to Mount Stromlo Observatory with world renowned astrophysicist, Jocelyn Bell Burnell, before visiting the Canberra Meeting House for a night of pide and movies.
All in all, we had a great time, and we met some wonderful people. We deeply thank the people who made this possible.