LOUIS BURKE | Culture | CONTACT
Walk down Byron Bay’s Johnson Street and you might hear the mellow sounds of Ash Pucky’s didgeridoo. While his Ohm tattoo and budding collection of dreadlocks might tip some people off, for those unaware, Ash has a couple of stories about travelling around the Northern Territory.
“Ah yeah the NT. What do you want to know mate?”
Unemployed by trade, Pucky (32) has made travelling Australia his lifelong passion, determined to see as much or the perpetual, baron, red dust encrusted plains as possible before he dies in an inevitable rock climbing accident.
While Pucky sings praises of Cairns’ “laid-back vibe” and Melbourne’s “European feel,” the campervan-dweller swears the Northern Territory is “the mother of all Australia” and that everyone should “defs check it out.”
“It changes you out there. Before I went I couldn’t play this thing [didgeridoo] and now I can almost do circular breathing.”
Pucky also claims travelling through the Northern Territory brought him closer to Australia’s First Nation people, learning things he never dreamed possible, and finally coming to peace with the white guilt that has plagued him since he went on a sleepover with one of the Islander kids who attended his private school on a sporting scholarship.
“You go to these communities and they’ve got nothing. There’s domestic violence, unemployment, alcoholism, drug abuse and a heap of other social issues everywhere you look. But they’re happy you know what I mean?”
According to Pucky, he was welcomed into “the tribe” as one of their own and was even given a totem and skin name. However, speaking to Walpiri elder Warren Davis (62) Pucky’s account might not be 100% accurate.
“I don’t know who you’re talking about. Whenever a white fella with dreads comes through we pass him a didge’ tell him he’s one of us and send him off. Once a week this happens. It’s easier to get rid of them that way. We’re getting good at it.”
Oblivious to the fact, Pucky states the greatest adversity he has faced on his travels are the accusations of cultural appropriation.
“Yeah Byron has changed man. I must have been in the desert too long because everyone is more left now, telling me I can’t do this anymore. Thinking of going to Bendigo next, no one will give a shit there.”