He sought, as one of the models, an indigenous homestead, in order to judge for himself some of the contentious issues associated with small communities of Australia's original inhabitants.
The indigenous homestead movement has developed over the past few decades. These are not towns, and not groups thrown together on the outskirts or suburbs of cities. They are situations where several Indigenous families live as a community, so the social links are all within a family and clan.
As many families choose to keep away from the well-publicised problems of the cities and towns, these homesteads have grown in significance where there are large Indigenous populations in rural areas, such as in the Kakadu region of the Northern Territory.
Mark and Delma Tronson, on their tour, were also researching aspects of their Tourism ministry – so the opportunity to join a regularly scheduled tour to Murdudjurl Indigenous Homestead on the Jim Jim River fitted with both areas of their Mission.
Before undertaking this trip, they visited the Warradjan Cultural Centre at Coorinda, a cultural display of Indigenous life in the Kakadu, in order to be better informed when they visited the homestead.
Their guide for the tour was Mandy Muir, who is on the Board of the Corrinda Indigenous Business that takes in the Gagudju Lodge and the Yellow Water Cruises. She is a Cultural Ambassador for her people at both national and international levels. For example, she was recently part of the Indigenous Leaders group that met with the Chinese Vice President in Darwin; and she has recently returned from an overseas study tour where she visited indigenous communities in other countries.
Mandy and her family live on a homestead, so she is well qualified to explain the lifestyle of those communities.
"We learnt that, although the adults within the Homestead community hunt in the traditional way, they have expanded their range of animals that they kill for food, so as to make sure the community gets adequate nutrition," recalled M V Tronson. "For example, any stray bullock is good tucker, as are those perennial feral pigs, as well as the more traditional and native non-protected ducks, kangaroos, wallabies, snakes and goannas – although numbers of the latter have been decimated by the cane toad."
Similarly, although traditional cooking techniques still form part of homestead living, the people within these indigenous homesteads still take every advantage of modern technology such as electricity, computers, and fast ADSL internet.
Mandy Muir explained that her children like their cereals and porridge for breakfast, and they also keep chooks and therefore sometimes enjoy eggs as well. She had a Catholic education and grew up within a Christian setting, as have her own children, the eldest of whom is seventeen.
Yet at the same time, in their traditional style there are certain areas of their 'country' where they are unable to eat after dark as there is a spiritual dimension that belongs to the land or the place that precludes eating there after the sun goes down. When visiting those areas, they eat their evening meal before dark.
In summary, this particular model of homestead community living has combined a traditional lifestyle in terms of community, food and culture; yet the people have at the same time taken full advantage of all that modern Australia offers.
Considering all that Mandy Muir is involved in, 'the sharing' component within the Homestead community, is very similar to the New Testament 'sharing' model illustrated in the Book of Acts which is also followed today by small community inner-city groups of Christians. In such settings Respite is a program that takes place within the community.