about this blog



I started this blog in 2008. It started mainly as a way of tracking the evolution of my dry garden, and that led to an interest in photography and in the creatures that live in the garden. It's still about the garden and wildlife, but now my passion is thinking about how we humans can learn to co-exist with wild animals and plants, especially in urban areas.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Survival Day and 'Caring for country'





Australia Day, 26 January, commemorates the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788, when Governor Phillip raised the British flag, and New South Wales became a British colony. This has a different significance for Aboriginal people, who call it Survival Day. This year's theme for Survival Day is Caring for Country.

Not only did the arrival of the white settlers change the lives of the Aboriginal inhabitants forever, the landscape, flora and fauna were also changed. For the worse. Since 1788 there has been a crisis of plant and animal extinctions.  To make themselves feel at home in such an alien environment, the white settlers set about clearing the bush, killing trees on a massive scale. They simply didn't understand Aboriginal culture, their attitude towards the land or their practices.


An important idea in indigenous Australian culture is that people don't own the land - the land owns them. The land has deep spiritual significance, and holds the memories and voices of their ancestors. The land is sacred and must be cared for.


Here's how Lisa Roeger, facilitator at Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation puts it -

'Caring for country' means so much more than labouring over projects, erecting fences or counting feral animals. It means ensuring country remembers the people who live on it, have sung for it, danced for it, and been connected to it for time immemorial. People can connect to country merely by sitting, quietly observing and feeling the land.


Photos taken in the Flinders Ranges.

19 comments:

  1. Beautiful, sensitive text and glorious photos!

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  2. I agree, it is so important to live in harmony with the land around us. So called civilised people have done so much damage when they take over a country, thinking that their ways are automatically best. We still have a lot to learn.

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    1. Dear Pauline, Thanks for this. The early settlers were convinced of the rightness of what they were doing. They thought they were obeying God's will by chopping down trees and planting crops like in England. Doubt and uncertainty are useful and good if they make people think twice about what they are doing.

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  3. slowly the wheel turns. I saw a picture of Lion's Head, one of the mountains behind the city of Cape Town, covered in pine plantations decades ago. Today those pines are mostly felled as alien and a fire hazard. Bit by bit the renosterveld returns.

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    1. as long as it's 3 steps forward and only 2 back ... but you've reminded me we must focus on the positives as well as the negatives. Thanks for this, Diana.

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  4. Similar damage has occurred here in the U.S., as you know. Since many of my ancestors were part of the carnage, I often feel partially responsible for helping to reverse it. I do think of the world as a gift to us--not something we own or can use up, but a beautiful place full of amazing resources. A place that we need to try to preserve as much as possible for future generations. This is a beautiful post.

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    1. Dear Beth, hopefully world leaders are beginning to realize this too. The notion of guilt for what our ancestors did is interesting.

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  5. Survival Day!! a post Sue which makes us take a step back and really think about ourselves. So much done in the so called name of religion, I feel I want to distance myself. Although I am not an atheist,I do believe there is a god which we have no!! understanding of, making me an agnostic..

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    1. From the point of view of many Aboriginal people, the British were brutal invaders who took their country from them with force. Some people call it Invasion Day.

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    2. Dear Alastair, I think I haven't really answered your interesting, thoughtful comment. I can relate to what you wrote about being an agnostic. I think I feel the same. I do feel a deep spiritual connection towards trees and rocks, so I'm not sure what that makes me.

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  6. People back then probably didn't know better. If they knew then what we know now, perhaps they would have been more careful.

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    1. Perhaps, but unfortunately today there are still wars over land.

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  7. So wise and true. How arrogant of us as a species to think that the very Earth itself is completely for our disposal and domination.

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  8. The history of your country is so much like the USA. A lot was done in arrogance, which is the hallmark of ignorance. We know better now.

    Also, thanks for your comment on my own blog. You asked about my camera. I use a Panasonic DMC-FZ40. This is a hybrid between point and shoot and SLR. I have been very pleased with it!

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    1. thanks for that, Deb. I'll check out that camera when I'm looking for a new one.

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    2. thanks for that, Deb. I'll check out that camera when I'm looking for a new one.

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  9. Oh my Sue I must say this was like reading about how the same ancestors stopped here and destroyed the indigenous people, flora and fauna. I think the Native Americans would think much the same of the British and other whites who arrogantly took land with no regard for anything but themselves.

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    1. Hi Donna, I guess what we share is that we were both British colonies.

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