He's been showing the visitors who've come over for tea his collection of photos from Mount Sinjar: some he took, some from friends, some downloaded from media coverage.
There are children in bloody bandages, an elderly man being carried on someone’s back, a video of a pile of corpses. It's say-cheese-on-autopilot, smartphone show and tell: a digital collage of suffering, assembled to explain why they're here.
But behind the facades of its suburbia, lies a cosmopolitan heart: a city offering refuge even to those it doesn’t fully understand.
On the manicured lawn by the bridge, the war memorial is encircled by wreaths of formalised remembering.
Laith, an Iraqi refugee-turned-volunteer is over with his family, visiting the family he’s most recently helped settle in town. Of the children, some were born in Iraq, some in Australia.
Some of his children have come along too for the feast, fully grown from their Australian childhoods, now starting families of their own. Everyone’s doing the Mannequin Challenge, trying to stifle giggles: all this novelty frozen in time for Instagram perpetuity. “I’ve been looking for a Yazidi one,” she says, “but I can’t find one anywhere.” Nimat’s intensive English class has gathered to show how us far they can count.
It’s week three of their New Australian Life and they’ve already decorated their Christmas tree in the corner. In all these new homes, the beds are made up with the same linen: a cheery graphic print; the kids section of the summer Kmart catalogue replicated for refugee children across the city.
Two other families are over for lunch, so they’ve done a traditional celebratory dish; pounded bulgur wheat rolled into dumplings, stuffed with mince and onion, in a rich tomato passata. In the lounge, it’s a raucous mix of Arabic and Kurdish Kurmanji.
Her front teeth are chipped between her dimples, but she's at the age where she's about to lose them all and get new ones. That was when she climbed a mountain for nine days, when her shoes fell apart so she wrapped her feet in fabric to keep walking.
On the screen, a UFO has arrived overhead, and the sheep in the paddock gather round as a beam emerges. At 5.45pm on a Thursday, Wagga Wagga's main drag is almost entirely bereft of people, peppered with branches of department store chains that disappeared from cities long ago.
The steps of the council chambers are freshly swept.
"At night, the world got dark." She misses her uncle, her cousins, her grandmother. "The other kids talk to me, but I don't understand what they say." She shrugs.
The stories she tells are full of names and meander between places and times, the way children's stories tend to. "But they're nice." She wanders outside to join her brothers and sister in the living room, bare except for a faded lounge set, a 1970s glass coffee table and a television.
"No steel-capped boots," he tells the couple who've sidled up to the door. No socks either." Inside the with the air-conditioning, it's karaoke night; early twenty-somethings wearing their thongs on the dance floor. Grease Lightning comes on, lyrics screamed from tables.