The Australian Bush Calls

July 14, 2013 at 3:18 pm | Posted in Australia, Nature, Ways of Living | 9 Comments
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Australian_bush

Every time we drive past an area of bushland – especially where there are no farms or cleared land, it’s as if a strong piece of string is tied to something within me. This string pulls at me with a tug that I feel in the heart and gut. I am called to wander in that bushland, unencumbered by modern possessions, to follow the animal tracks and be guided only by the ancient lights in the sky.

I feel a strong urge to feel the earth, the fallen leaves and twigs, and the rough grass against my feet. To be sheltered among the eucalypt, grevillea and banksia of the dry forest, the paperbark melaleuca and the casuarina of the wetlands. In natural forest clearings, I want to feel the warm sun and the cool breeze on my skin.

Wet sclerophyll forest Wet sclerophyll forest

I long to experience it all; to be at one with the plants and animals of the bush. I want to shed the trappings of civilisation, with their stresses and expectations, and go back to the primitive within me that hears the call. I have felt this call more mildly ever since I was a child but now, in my later years, it is strong and insistent.

It’s not that I want to be there forever, but I want to be immersed in nature for long enough to become connected – or re-connected – to the reality and the spirituality of nature; and I would like to do it more than once.

Dry eucalypt forest

I know that I couldn’t live in the wild for long, as I have not learned the needed skills. But I believe I could at least come to a partial understanding of nature’s ways, and to a greater appreciation of its relevance – indeed, to its essential and continuing importance – for humanity. For if we lose that connection that it is fast becoming a tenuous one, we will also lose ourselves and all that has given us life.

Bushfire_Cristina_Ramalho liveablecities.org.au

© Linda Visman

Looking at Photos

March 5, 2010 at 5:18 am | Posted in Society | 1 Comment
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It’s an amazing world, when a T-shirt allows the U.S. Dallas Cowboys  to intersect with indigenous kids in a remote community in Central Australia. It’s great that, by looking at my photo album these kids can also connect with another culture within their own country. But it also highlights the differences between what we see as ‘normal’ western living and life in the real bush.

It is November, 1991. In my photos, the kids see my British-Australian family, who live well over a thousand kilometres away, in homes quite unlike the tin-shed shacks or brush-and-tarp shelters they live in. My five sons pose before backgrounds of sea or mountains, clear creeks and dense, tall bushland, so very different to their flat country of red sand, spinifex, wattle and mulga. My children engage in activities that these youngsters may never have a chance to even know about.

The five girls are in my Education Department supplied caravan, which sits with two others behind to the school grounds at one end of the community. In my van, I have a couch, table and chairs, an electric frypan, a washing machine, a refrigerator, a television, even a fizzy drink maker; in fact pretty well all the ‘necessities’ of modern life. I do not have a telephone though –the school office has one, but a phone service only became available there four months previously.

The girls’ families have none of these common conveniences in their homes, not even a TV. They do not have electricity – or showers either. The kids shower at school, before class. After their shower, they change into school uniforms, and the cleaner washes their clothes in the school washing machine. At the end of the school day, the kids change back into their own, clean clothes. The teachers wash the uniforms, ready for the next day. The girls in the photo came to visit me after school, and are wearing those clean clothes.

Things have improved there in the last eighteen years. They now have power and television, satellite dishes and telephones, though no mobile phone service. They have greater access to vehicles and a well-stocked store with petrol bowsers – no more having to travel to the cattle station to stock up on basic rations. They have council offices and work sheds – but very little work. The school buildings have been upgraded, but the level of service is still dependent on the individual teachers who go there. Education is still not highly valued, because there is no incentive to learn.

I look at this photo and remember the hard work and the joys, the despair and the hope, the struggles and the achievements. Mostly though, I remember the kids – their brightness and their smiles, their openness and their enthusiasm, and their trust. I think of the things they didn’t have – those I have already listed, but also no grog and no petrol sniffing.

 When I think of the things they did have – an open-air lifestyle; bush tucker to supplement the basic foodstuff they could buy; a joy in simple things, like making a toy from a piece of wire and a tin can; their traditional family and social structures and ceremonial life – and I think that, in many ways, they had it better then.

© Linda Visman, March 5, 2010

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