In July 2018 Timor Unearthed and Waverley College spent 10 days on the road together, learning about Timorese culture and history, meeting incredible people and exploring beautiful landscapes.
Day 1, Sunday 15 July – Sydney to Darwin
FROM TIMOR-LESTE TOUR COORDINATOR, MISS C O’SULLIVAN
At 8.45 am this morning fourteen very excited young men (Logan would join us in Darwin) plus two equally excited teachers boarded our flight for Darwin – beginning the first stage of our immersion to Timor-Leste. After a smooth and comfortable flight we landed in the beautiful, balmy, tropical city of Darwin.
We checked into our accomodation for the evening at the Darwin YHA and were all quick to change into more appropriate attire suiting the weather. We then walked (about half an hour) to the famous Mindil Beach sunset markets where we enjoyed an alfresco dinner from one of the many market stalls and witnessed the incredible sunset over the Timor sea.
Once back at the YHA, many of the boys have taken the opportunity to have an evening swim in the hostel pool.
Today has been a great start to the 2018 Timor – Leste immersion – the boys have been fantastic – looking out for each other, showing initiative, respect and great cooperation.
Day 2 & 3: 16 & 17 July – Darwin to Dili and Railaco Craic
FROM CARTER KILLIGREW AND JOSH GLEESON
As we woke to an early start – or what felt like one after a few of the boys stayed up late to watch to World Cup final – all the lads were excited to get to Dili for a first day in Timor-Leste. We had a very happy breakfast before going for an enlightening walk around Darwin. Learning about World War II in Darwin was eye-opening, as we hadn’t realised how close to home the fighting had been to preserve the Australia we know today. As just about everyone had caught the morning sun in Darwin, we were all keen to go for a swim afterwards. We headed down to the harbour front with a better understanding about its relation to WWII as well as the numbers of crocodiles in the water. The water was refreshing and so was knowing that the harbour was netted off! After a lovely swim and refreshing morning tea we headed back to the YHA and got ready to get on our flight. During a very normal flight over the Timor Sea we had some laughs due to Josh’s and Luke’s fears of flying. Getting off the plane to see the famous ‘Welcome to Timor’ sign we had seen in photos of past tours made it all the more real that our own experience had finally begun.
Passing through customs and out into to the Timor weather was amazing, unless you were Anthony or Patty. We met our guides Alex, Tina, Noi and Anhus from Timor Unearthed, to then head off to the Carmelite Monastery to be greeted by the lovely Sisters and have a late lunch. The lovely weather was met by an even better sunset over the Christo Ray – definitely an experience not to be forgotten. Getting in the dusty troopies we then headed to a traditional Timor dinner where we shared our thoughts about what was to come and what we had already experienced. After an amazing day we had head back to our accommodation for an easy sleep.
It was 7:00am when we were woken up by singing Timorese girls and a rooster. We were being called for a breakfast of hot dogs, homemade bread rolls and fruit jam. After breakfast we packed our bags and said obrigado (thank you) to the Sisters for putting up with 15 boys. We then went to the Resistance Museum, where we had a great tour guide who gave us a realistic view on the war that had occurred in Timor. The understanding that this Museum gave us was that Australians have little idea about the hardships that Timor has faced over the years. Once we finished with the museum we went to Timor plaza to look at the various shops and different products produced by the Timorese. We also made a visit to a special local bakery, which is a tradition for all Waverley College Timor-Leste immersions because the cakes are delicious.
After an hour and a half drive, we reached the Railaco Craic community for a two-night home stay. On arrival we were introduced to our homes and their owners. All the homes where we are staying are very beautiful. After this we had a tour of the community and an introduction to how the Timorese people live their daily lives. Finally, we are currently finishing a very competitive game of football against 10 year-olds, and we are still getting beaten.
FROM MS O’SULLIVAN
“The boys continue to be amazing and are great ambassadors for Australian Youth.”
Day 4 & 5: 18 & 19 July – Railaco Craic
FROM ANTHONY D’ETTORRE, HARRY WHITAKER AND TOM JAEGER
Day 4 – Homestay at Railaco Craic
Our fourth day started with a traditional breakfast that included homemade bread, donuts and Timorese cookies. Following breakfast, we set off for the coffee plantation centre, known as Timor Global, at 8 o’clock. The centre taught us about the many types of coffee grown throughout East Timor as well as discussing their value on the global market. We were taught that the coffee season only lasted half a year, therefore the Timorese people must find and sell other native goods during the off season. In Timor Global we tasted the different types of coffee, were taught the process of production and to finish enjoyed an organic Timor cappuccino. After thanking the Timor Global workers, we headed to the local TAFE centre where we enjoyed a delicious lunch prepared by the students. Following this, we were given a tour of the centre. We then enjoyed the chance to converse with the students which allowed them to practise their English, a skill that is crucial in the hospitality industry. After some photos with the students we briefly visited a local fish farm where we were educated about the process of breeding and growing the fish before visiting the local markets. In preparation for our soccer game, we were fortunate enough to witness one between two of the local teams, a game of very high standard. After a brief water break, it was game day. We headed to a neighbouring village to play against the locals. The game was intense, with the Timorese showcasing their unbelievable skills; although it was not enough to overcome the talent of Ryan, Killigrew and D’Ettorre who led the double V to victory. With that, Day 4 was concluded and we all headed back for a quiet dinner with our respective families.
Day 5 Homestay at Railaco Craic
We all woke at dawn to the sound of the roosters crowing. Upon stepping out of our rooms, we were instantly greeted with another fantastic breakfast. Following the feed, we gathered as a group to visit a local coffee farm. Here we were able to pick coffee beans, eat some unforgettable mandarins and sing Anthony Happy Birthday. As a group we picked about 2kg of coffee beans in comparison to a normal Timorese day of one man’s work, which amounts to 60kg of coffee beans. It was a great opportunity to witness and experience the process farmers go through to create our coffee. After a long morning we had a great afternoon relaxing with our families in preparation for a big rematch with our neighbouring village. This concluded with a heartbreaking loss, which made for a silent ride home in the pouring rain – a rare occurrence during dry season. Following a shower and a brief rest it was time for the big farewell dinner.
It was a beautiful experience to share a meal all together with our host families. It was a great way to conclude an incredible and memorably immersive experience with our Timorese families – a night that we will never forget.
Days 6, 7 & 8: 20 – 22 July – Dili / Ossu / Baucau
Day 6 – Reflection
FROM MATT GALLAGHER
For the final time of the trip we awoke in Railco Craic. Unlike the other days, emotions of sadness followed as we all knew it was time to say our final farewells. For many of us, great elements of friendship and a sense of family had been created in the short time that we had been allocated with our Timorese family. The few moments of exchanging gifts and hugs were warming and are now a part of the many treasured moments of this immersion. Shortly after, we moved up hill and arrived at the Samalete Markets and stopped by Dan’s Motel where we were able to bargain our way to some great purchases that brightened our current mood. Then, we moved to lunch at the ETDA restaurant and were served with much needed western food – tacos. This restaurant was particularly interesting as the chef, waiters and waitresses were in practical training to complete their progression course to become qualified within the food industry and hospitality. From here we were transported to the Chenga! Museum and where taught in a year-by-year sequence of East Timor’s quest for independence. Through truth and reconciliation, this was an eye opener for all, as we were confronted with the brutal reality of war and it’s devastating consequences that have trickled down to affect modern communities. After this we returned to the Canossian Monastery for a brief rest and reflection time, making notes on the best and worst parts of our individual physical and mental journey so far. Afterwards, we travelled to Da Terra Permaculture Restaurant and were spoiled with home-grown food from the Timor culture. Before returning to the Monastery for the night, we watched Balibo, an engaging film that depicted a story of East-Timor’s recent history.
Since the commencement of this immersion, we have all been challenged – whether it be overcoming homesickness or socialising with individuals without understanding what they are trying to communicate – but we have all endured. Particularly, when it was time to depart from our homestay, we could then truly understand and appreciate how lucky we are to attend the school we do, have the clothes we have on our backs and be a part of our own respective Australian families.
Day 7 – Reflection
FROM NATHANIAL YARROW
The team woke up back in Dili for the second time at the Canossian Monastery. After a swift breakfast of eggs, bread, marmalade, and coffee, we all set off on our six hour journey from Dili to Ossu. The drive was dramatically slowed down due to all the road works and the concerning amount of bumps and ramps which gave some of us sore tailbones. During the drive we played games such as Mafia and Uno, while also spending time getting to know each other and taking in the scenery. Around two hours in, we made a stop at a small town called Laila, where everyone enjoyed a cold drink, while Nat Yarrow, Tommy Tyson, Carter Killigrew and Hugh Marshall played a soccer game using a crushed can as a ball. We also visited a beautiful Franciscan Church, taking in the architecture as well as the humidity. After another hour, we arrived in the city of Baucau. Where we had lunch at a restaurant known as Amalia, where everybody enjoyed rice, noodles, chips, and vegetables. After leaving Baucau, entering the southern part of Timor-Leste, the scenery and the climate changed from dry and humid to green and damper.
Finally after six hours of talking, playing cards and sweating, we all arrived in Ossu, settling into our rooms at St Lukas Orphanage. To finish the day most of the boys took on the locals in a very muddy and wet game of soccer. Despite our absolutely brilliant teamwork and superb soccer skills, and thanks to the brilliant defence of Cooper Flynn and the blistering speed of Luke Marshall, the game ended in a two-all draw to go along with a lot of mud on our feet and shoes. After the boys washed and dressed, we all had dinner which was the usual rice and meat along with an exciting new delight, chicken soup. After dinner the Timorese displayed a traditional dance performance especially prepared for us. In return, the boys sang the national anthem and while they may have been proud, the harmony was outstanding. After that, Waverley and the Timorese joined together in a circle dance, while different people were brought to the centre. Special mentions to Josh Gleeson and Matt Gallagher for their cracking dance moves. To finish the night everyone participated in a ‘nut bush’ type dance and a quick game of ‘Do this/Do that’ which Max Curry and Hugh Marshall won. After that, everyone said their goodbyes and headed to bed, to rest for what was going to be another massive day.
Day 8 Reflection
FROM MAX CURRY
The boys woke at 6:30 for our earliest morning yet. We all got dressed and ready for mass before heading to breakfast, except for Harry and Tom who ‘didn’t wake up’. After our breakfast we were driven up to the church, which really stands out in the village. It was amazing to see the community sing their gospel songs together as one, even after all they went through during Indonesian occupation; it’s inspiring how strong they remain in their faith.
At the conclusion of the two hour Mass, the boys began chatting with a group of Timorese adolescents who spoke good English. After Mass, we drove out to a majestic limestone waterhole, where despite the rain the boys enjoyed a swim and a beautiful view.
We returned to the monastery for lunch and were treated to a beautiful Timorese farewell song by the nuns. We piled into the cars and got as comfortable as possible for our two hour drive to Baucau. Arriving at an organic plantation farm, we learnt about how to live off the land. Afterwards we settled into our accommodation and headed out for dinner. When we had all finished our meals, we were taught a catchy traditional Timorese farewell song by our translator, Anass. Back at our accommodation we all played a game of ‘Mafia’ and headed to bed for a well-deserved rest.
Days 9 & 10 – 23 and 24 July: Baucau to Dili
FROM LUKE MARSHALL & ANGUS MCPHERSON
Today the boys had an early start from Baucau, up at 6:30 and ready for a long and day of travelling. We welcomed our first encounter of western food; milk and cereal, it felt good to not have rice and chicken for once.
We then jumped into the three vehicles to commence our five hour trip back to Dili for our final two nights. It was a beautiful scenic drive following the coast line back to Dili – though the roads were extremely bumpy and dusty, and in places very narrow
We arrived back in Dili and at about 12.30pm and stopped for lunch at a beachside café called the Caz Bar. All eyes lit up with joy after seeing the menu and finally having the opportunity to order burgers, nachos, wraps, sandwiches or good old fries, which we enjoyed eating on the beautiful beach.
After lunch we hopped back into our trusty land-cruisers and travelled to the Alola foundation and then the Tais markets, where we all bought lots of souvenirs and gifts for ourselves, family and friends back home.
This evening we enjoyed probably the best meal of the whole trip so far at our accommodation – the Canossa Sisters Convent. We enjoyed pasta, roast chicken, chips, vegetables and an amazing tiramisu dessert. We then all played a fun game called ‘Bombers, believe it or not!’ before heading to bed for sleep.
FROM COOPER FLYNN & LOGAN RYAN
This was the best day yet. We were woken up early by Ms O’Sullivan telling us to get up. We were all tired and we didn’t want to get up but we went along with it and had a great breakfast with the sisters at the monastery. After breakfast we got in the land-cruisers with our tour guides and drove to the Santa Cruz Cemetery where under Anas, our tour guide, we went through the cemetery and paid our respects to Sebastiõ Gomes and the victims of the massacre that occurred at his funeral.
After we were finished at the cemetery we were driven to the Australian Embassy in Timor-Leste where we got the chance to talk with the Australian Ambassador, Peter Roberts. He informed us about Australia’s relationship with this small country. We were able to find out interesting information that we were unaware of before our trip. Timor-Leste receives the second highest amount of development aid from Australia. A maritimetreaty was just signed, after 15 years, between Australia and Timor-Leste, outlining the maritime borders between the two countries. As one of our closest neighbours, Mr Roberts mentioned that it is important for us to assist Timor-Leste and also maintain a good relationship. Some of the Australian aid money is directed towards improving agricultural practices and building better rural roads to make access easier.
We then travelled to the port and boarded a catamaran and sailed along the coast and anchored at a beautiful beach, just behind Christo Rei. We swam and snorkelled from the boat and saw some amazing coral and fish. It was a great way to finish our immersion to Timor-Leste and was definitely one of the highlights. It was also very special to see both our Timorese guides, Anas and Noi swim (with the aid of life jackets) in the ocean for the very first time.
The saddest part of the day was our farewell with the Timor Unearthed group. We were lucky enough to go to a restaurant for a dinner where we were able to learn how to prepare food and where all food ingredients were from Timor-Leste. It was a real eye opener to learn 90% of the chicken, which is one of the most predominant foods in Timorese cuisine, is imported from Brazil.
Day 11 – 25 July: Our farewell in photos
What an amazing experience! The students are now home and here is the story of their experience in their own words…
Timor Unearthed provide customised educational travel experiences for school and university groups in Timor-Leste. Please visit here to get in contact with us for more information.
This blog post is taken from the Waverley College news article.(https://waverley.nsw.edu.au/news/2018-timor-leste-immersion-blog/)