It's not often that you get mobile reception out on Jim Jim Billabong in Kakadu National Park. We were fishing on our tinny when instead of catching fish, my phone caught my attention. Through my inbox had come an invitation that many would say was a 'once-in-a-lifetime' opportunity.
The Prime Minister had invited me to a reception that he was holding in the Prime Minister's Courtyard in Parliament House in 3 weeks time to celebrate Indigenous Innovation ahead of the Closing the Gap Report.
It was a sureal experience to be floating on a remote billabong, exactly 4000kms from Canberra, with an e-invitation in my hand from the Prime Minister. I smiled as I quickly realised that this was what the innovation agenda was all about. Equal participation in the digital economy regardless of where you live in Australia - even if you share your sunsets with 5 metre crocodiles in one of Australia's most remote communities!
The next question was how do we showcase Digital Rangers in a meaningful way in the inner sanctum of Parliament House? Having augmented some larger sites it certainly wasn't going to be feasible to bring them with me. I sought help from my Murrumburr Sister Mandy Muir, to develop a weaving story for the Prime Minister. Just imagine that the Prime Minister could learn how to weave traditional baskets Kakadu way from an object in his hand?
I remembered that some months beforehand I had picked up a beautiful pandanus nut on my morning lake walk, coveting it's beautiful crimson colour and pungent odour. Long since faded and dried, the geometric shapes on the nut would make it the perfect candidate for image recognition technology. We had the trigger - now for the story.
The ladies at Warradjan were keenly involved in the fimling of the augmented reality story which I was grateful for. We carried out the entire process of weaving bracelets and baskets at the centre, and wrapped the fimling in just under 4 hours. It was great fun involving my kids in the process of intergenerational sharing of cultural practices and I'm so proud that these little Cabrogals are a part of this story every time it plays. The story came out well, and we were all proud of the results.
When the big moment came at Parliament House I was excited! Prime Minister Turnbull, Minister Scullion, Uncle Tom Calma and 10 media journalists crowded around the pandanus nut as I pointed my Samsung Galaxy at the nut. I held my breath....and then Mandy Muir, Murrumburr Custodian of Central Arnhem appeared in 3D above the nut sharing her weaving story in 3 dimensions. She was present at that moment in digital.
It was incredible and I breathed a sigh of relief - we had just demonstrated to the world that yes, Indigenous People from remote areas DO use and create new technologies. We also do it without millions of dollars, or internet.
I did read the social media posts attached to the Prime Minister's Instagram feed and had to laugh at the people who thought we were reading a piece of paper. No, it was one of the most advanced pieces of technology in Australia.
I'm really looking forward to getting back to Kakadu to create more compelling content with the community and together continuing to achieve what few people believed was possible.
Mikaela Jade is Founder and Director of Indigital, and creator of the Digital Rangers App. Since meeting the Prime Minister, Mikaela has been travelling around Regional NSW as a part of the Australian Rural Leadership Program and will return to Kakadu in the last week of February 2016.