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When a friend told me he was working with students from the remote Yiyili community in the Kimberley, in outback Australia, to establish a teaching café, I was interested.

When he said the children were putting an Italian coffee machine in the back of a four-wheel drive and making coffees for 500 bike riders along the Gibb River Road, I had to make a film.

“We chose to listen, to open ourselves to whatever came along, and the children of Bush to Belly gave us more quiet wisdom, dignity and cause for optimism than we could have hoped for.”

Funding was raised and award winning Australian actor Deborah Mailman was our first and only choice to voice the film. Bush to Belly was the name of the café and aptly adopted as the name for the film documenting the adventure.

When buses of tourists came into the community to look at their art, the kids – for the first time – had a reason to interact with people from outside. They were learning to communicate, make barista coffees and running a small business.

Bush to Belly documentary

The country up there is red and the sky is blue.

The old people are worn, patient and determined that their children know their language, culture and country as well as thriving in ‘whitefella way’. They see partnerships as essential to this outcome and are prepared to let their children go away to learn skills and gain knowledge because they will come back and make Yiyili and their Gooniyandi culture stronger.

“For a short time we were part of something ancient and magical. We were offered sacred places and heard the spirit of survival. We were outsiders, observers, intruders; and we were welcomed.”

James Freemantle connects with people as a business coach, mentor and producer.

To find out more about Bush to Belly get in touch.