Watch as a man directs his friend’s 4-wheel drive using only Aboriginal sign language.
The vehicle made it through to Doomadgee due to Borroloola native Conrad Rorory’s hand signals. The 4-wheel drive had to make it through the road flooded by the Gregory River in 3 feet of water. Rorory sat on the hood (called the bonnet in Australia) of the vehicle to direct the driver.
Aboriginal cultures in Central Australia have used hand gestures and sign language to communicate for generations. The indigenous communities use sign language as a form of language alongside speech, gesture, and drawing. In these communities, the use of sign language is a vehicle to transmit knowledge and culture.
There’s even a newly created online dictionary for these gestures.
Though its use it slowly being lost, the Australian government is seeking to restore and preserve the practices called ltyem-iltyem, which means signaling with the hands. It’s an expressive and rich way of communicating across Aboriginal groups who have different spoken languages.