In the past few weeks we have noticed a big change in the mood of Numbulwar. The shop is crowded with customers. Queues of more than ten people exist at the atm in the store and the local credit union. The MAF phones ring constantly with requests for flights. Kids ride around town on new bikes, scooters and skateboards. Babies have sparkling new outfits. The shelves of the store are very very bare, with the vegetable section totally empty except for two cabbages. Visitors are coming to our home to ask about flights to Gove. Other visitors come to the house to buy Christian cds, dvds and Bibles that we have for sale. There is a joyous feeling in the air. People are out and about in town, spending their royalty money. It feels a little like Christmas. For a small space of time, the worries of money and providing for families is pushed aside.DSC_0237
Many of the families here in Numbulwar are the traditional landowners of the land on Groote Eylandt which has a large manganese mine operating on it. Several times each year the traditional owners get paid for the use of the land through royalty payments. At this time, MAF always gets lots of business as people have an increased income to be able to fly. Royalty money often seems to be paid into bank accounts based on Groote Eylandt, so many of the flights Jason and Rachel do at this time are simply to transport people to the bank so that they can withdraw their money. Some of the other flights that happened this year included several flights to Groote Eylandt for people to go shopping, including one lady who asked Jason to wait with the plane while she bought a mop. This increase in income means that families can travel to other communities to visit other family members, or travel into Katherine or Darwin via a bus service that runs in the dry season.