In a previous blog (September 21) I mentioned Uluru in Australia, which made me think of that amazing country-continent. I wrote in Voice of a Voyage: Rediscovering the World During a Ten-year Circumnavigation:
Everything I ever read about Australia is true. I can say this with certainty because it is a land of such extremes that indeed everything is true about it. Much of the wildlife in this country-continent is treacherous or poisonous. . . . So how do Aussies and tourists survive? Australia is one of the few countries left on Earth where there is space for both its human population and its wildlife, poisonous or not. Not discounting the Sydney opera house, the fascination of Tasmania’s Port Arthur prison museum, or other human-type sights, Australia is a country of unfathomable space. The wild beauty of the country, whether its immense barrier reef or its Outback, is transforming.
Photographs taken on land can’t capture this sense of space, but they can capture one of those dangerous species.
Contemporary issues for the Aboriginal people are complex and there’s not space in a blog to go into them, although they are discussed in Voice of a Voyage. Here’s one short excerpt:
Like the isolation of New Zealand’s birds creating their own physical characteristics, and of mine at Minerva Reef affecting my emotional character, the Aboriginals’ long-term isolation in this place of extremes created a worldview in which they saw a place for everything, and made that place part of a person’s heart and soul.
Rather than another photo, I want to share a poem with you that I wrote about the Aboriginal perspective. The title is from an interview I heard with an Aboriginal elder. I recently read this poem at a poetry fest in Crestone, Colorado, a very small town on the lower slopes of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. A great poetry evening to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act put together by Peter Anderson, poet, member of the River City Nomads (a performance poetry group), and professor, and other local wilderness stewards.
I Hear the Ants Breathing
I pause in the openness of the earth
to hear the ants breathing.
I watch my brother, koala,
dozin’ in the eucalyptus,
what that fella does best.
I move slowly, drawn by threads
of power, unbreakable
by wire fences, railroad tracks, power lines,
coal diggers. Unbreakable, I sing
these Songlines, this path I walk
is sacred, I have known it for centuries.
I pause to hear the ants breathing.
This place is my strength.