Heywire winner – Shakira – Tennant Creek NT


In the middle of Australia there’s a small town called Tennant Creek. And in the middle of that town is a garden, and in the middle of that garden are hand-made statues that mean the world to me.

Every day after school I would go over to my Nana and Pop’s house to listen to their stories and help out in the garden.

My Nana always told me that talking to the plants would help them grow faster.

I loved talking to the plants, but I really loved talking to my Nana and Pop.

Pop made these little statues and put them all over the garden. They’re made of strong clay from Elliott, 200 kilometres north of Tennant Creek — that’s where he’s from.

They have pictures carved into them.

Snakes, goannas and kangaroos.

He’d paint some of them in bright colours and some with dot paintings.

He’d tell us the backstories all the time.

He’d tell us about how he’d go to the creek and swim, and how there was always a certain cockatoo sitting down there watching him, and it’d follow him all the way back home.

Pop loved his grandkids.

He valued education — he didn’t get it back in the day because he lived out bush. He just had to work.

We’d go hunting with him.

He couldn’t get out much, so he’d sit in the car and show us which berries were the best ones to pick.

The green ones you can eat, and black ones, kungaberries and plums.

In 2018 Pop was diagnosed with cancer and had pneumonia.

He was in and out of hospital, traveling to Alice Springs and back up to Tennant Creek, a 1,000km round trip, and was often away from family and friends.

It was hard on everybody.

He passed away last year and I miss him every day.

I’m a proud young Jingili woman. When I finish school I want to be a station worker.

I think Pop would be proud.

He’d always bail us up if we were doing something wrong and tell us the right way.

I keep some statues he made in my room.

When I see them I feel he’s still with me in spirit.

I’m so glad I spent time with Pop in his garden, talking to the plants to help them grow, because when he talked to me, he helped me grow.

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