Archive for August 2010

Rothwell and landscape

August 23, 2010

So often our primary thoughts are that it is us, the humans, who dominate the landscape and control and change it. Whether our attempts are to conserve or to exploit, or to record and interpret, our thoughts circle around the ideas and the changes and actions that eminate from us.

There is another attitude, possibility less easy to take – that instead the landscape might take hold of us, shape us and speak to us, in ways we cannot yet imagine or even describe.

These words below are not my own, they are the work of journalist Nicholas Rothwell, in his latest book “Journeys to the Interior”. But still, they help me find a way into those indescribable ideas about the natural world and the work it does on me.

Can today’s Australians inhabit such a landscape? Can we feel at home there? When you find yourself in a pale dunefield at sunset, with the sky blush pink and deepest indigo, or when you look out from the crest of an inland mesa at the clouds in their indifferent race across the sky, such questions tend to dissolve, and patterns and thought-chains separate from man’s deliberate kingdom take hold.

I have always felt, at such moments, on the verge of dissolution – close to death as much as on the threshold of new revelations in the march of life – and rather than imposing my will on country, or on landscape, and prolonging the dictatorship of control and consciousness, I am overwhelmed – I am a creature of new rhythm, and the desert, and the inland, are writing me.

From “Journey’s to the Interior” by Nicholas Rothwell (2010, p53)

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Red

August 23, 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

red alert red back red card red dirt red eye red fern

red gum red herring red ink red jacket red kangaroo

red line red moustache red neck red onion red planet

red queen red rocket red sea red tent red undies

red velvet  red wine red X red yarn red zone

 

A handful of sand

August 16, 2010

Today, 16th August, marks the 35th anniversary of the day Prime Minister Gough Whitlam poured a handful of sand through the fingers of Gurindji man Vincent Lingiari, to symbolise the restoration of land ownership to the Gurindji people.

Source: National Library of Australia.

 

The story began on Wave Hill station, a large cattle station about 600 km south of Darwin in the Northern Territory. For many years after European settlement it was run by the British pastoral company called Vesteys. Vesteys employed the local Indigenous people, the Gurindji, to work on Wave Hill, but working conditions were very poor and the Gurindji people were paid much less than the other workers.

In 1966, Vincent Lingiari, a prominent Gurindji man who worked at Wave Hill, led a walk off of Indigenous workers as a protest against the poor pay and conditions. The protesters established the Wattie Creek Camp and demanded the return of some of their traditional lands.

The strike lasted for 8 years – “We know how to wait”, Vincent said. “We want them Vestey mob all go away from here. Wave Hill Aboriginal people bin called Gurindji. We been here long time before them Vestey mob. This is our country, all this bin Gurindji country … We want this land, we strike for that.”

Vincent Lingiari travelled all over Australia to address meetings and raise support for the strike. The protest eventually led to the Commonwealth Land Rights Act of 1976 which gave Indigenous Australians freehold title to traditional lands in the Northern Territory and powers to make decisions about mining and development on those lands. 

The story is told really well in “From little things, big things grow” by Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody

An act of patience and bravery well worth remembering.

Slogans and bumper stickers

August 6, 2010

Sick of ignorant slogans, bad policy and blatant lies by national leaders, a mate and I have written some slogans of our own in an attempt to add our voice to the current public discourse, if you can call it that, about asylum seekers and the Australian community.

I am appalled at our nation’s leaders inability to speak fairly and compassionately about refugees and displaced people. Australia has the resources and the responsibility to take a lead in helping some of the most vulnerable people in the world. As the third wealthiest country on the globe, the wealthiest in our region by a substantial margin, and as a country that has been continually strengthened by various waves of immigration, a welcome rather than a rejection is entirely reasonable.

The bumper stickers are now printed and ready to go, and welcomerefugees.org is up and running.

As well as a place to order bumper stickers, the website gives a valuable perspective about people who are refugees and the way we can respond as an Australian community. The fact sheets provided by GetUp or the Edmund Rice Centre for Social Justice are a good place to start in being more informed, and so are the stories on the SBS “How far we’ve come” website.