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.