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Thursday, December 25, 2008

“He ao! He ao! He ao tea roa!”

Looking at Glebe from Te Horo and looking at Te Horo from Glebe, or the points on the coast that are the closest.

In Sydney we live on the fringe and yet constantly show we don't, most of us, understand the sea. It is, like all pre-1788 Australia, there to be conquered. Having once been caught in an undertow in a relatively benign bay I now am wary of the power of volumes of water. Each year Australians and visitors to Oz drown when they're ripped away when not being mindful of their surroundings. Respect would be the starting point.

We, the post-26 January 1788 arrivistes, are tourists trying to make our new land home by seeing it as a version of home. We remain "fresh off the boat" despite our claims to be local.

What must the traditional owners think when people with roots less than 220 years old or deep squabble over which mob is really Australian? Like gatecrashers scrapping over a plundered beer cache?

And what must the land feel? Formations 200,000,000 years old in the guardianship of one group for the last 40 or 60,000 years or so and scrabbled over by dozens of others for the last 220 years.

There's a story about an elderly Aboriginal man and a gubba or Anglo woman stepping up to a counter in a bank at the same time. Their eyes met and the woman said "I think you were here first". After a pause the man said "I think I was". They both smiled an old smile of recognition and acknowledgement.

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