Tues, 30 June
Early this afternoon, on my way back from Palm Cove on the northern beaches of Cairns, the bus drove past the rainforest sky-shuttle entry. I’d known of the sky shuttle, it’s one of the tourist things that people do here, but I wasn’t interested enough to partake in that. It’s just that next to the skyshuttle sign was an Aboriginal theme park sign, and lo and behold the bus drove on past the entry to this theme park as it turned back onto the highway and made its way south back to central Cairns.
I was a little miffed by this. I hadn’t heard or read of this park at all. No-one had discussed this or offered it up as a possible tour option, although I hadn’t asked for it to be fair. I do wish I had heard about this park as it’s someplace I really would have wanted to go. I love hearing and reading of Aboriginal culture and it would have been great to participate in learning of Aboriginal life in this area of Australia pre-white settlement. I’d love there to be a book on Aboriginal culture, say, whose chapters were separated into various tribes or regions throughout Australia. Each chapter would detail eating, foraging, hunting, artistic and religious beliefs pertaining to each region. It does not have to be especially intricate although I’d like it to be fairly detailed yet enjoyably readable nonetheless. Does such a book exist? I’ll have to research it, I’m sure it does.
The Australian Aboriginies are said to have inhabited this continent for over 40,000 years. White man’s colonisation commenced some 220 years ago, accounting for the most recent half-a-percent time span of human habitation of Australia. And look where it’s brought us! Cairns is packed to the palm trees with tourists, of all nationalities, and non-north Queenslander Australians – myself included – make up a fair whack of the mix. Look at us, the buildings, the structures, the land clearings, the theme parks that encourage and promote “conservation”, the horrible cheap textiles we wear, mobile phones, wireless internet connections & portable laptops. The list goes on.
The price for this growth in modern conveniences has come at enormous cost, to the people who had to build it or be removed from it, and to the environment. Cheap energy in the form of crude oil is the modern slave that allows anyone who’s reading this to afford a car and a computer and a mobile phone. But prior to that – to the early 20th century - Westernisation and colonisation was built fundamentally on slavery, convictism (a penal form of slavery), forced removal of people from their homes as in Africa, and the butchering and brutality bestowed on indigenous peoples of Australia and North America. This of course is only part of it, only a snapshot.
Aboriginal cultures varied throughout the land and undoubtedly some tribes were happier and freer than others. Aboriginies in various parts of Australia did partake in burn-offs, as we still do today (check the sugar cane country), and who are responsible for some element of environmental deterioration. But of course, white man with their white bread, their grog and infectious diseases, took up the environmental degradation raft and rowed it exponentially fast upstream so that even the salmon were choking behind them, unable to keep pace with this onslaught. Species become extinct world-wide. Weather extremes and drought becomes more commonplace. The combined human culture of a magnificent land is forcibly replaced, and by what? A culture that prides itself on modern conveniences and whose people wear yucky t-shirts that contrast garishly to the natural surrounds. We visit sacred beautiful places on bus tours, take photos on our didji cameras, and walk away – me included. None of us would know how to live off the land to save our lives.
All civilisations that we know of that have existed in the past, Western, Eastern and South American, have all come to pass. Cultures such as the American Indian and Australian Aboriginal have too come to pass as a pervasive way of life for these people and these lands, but these cultures had their way of life forcibly removed from them. The civilisations on the other hand, have died from their own hand due to some form of unsustainability, ie, imperialism, population (food & drought issues), war, greed, and merely the general cycle of things. Our civilisation, the current worldly civilisation that has now enveloped the entire world, looks like it shall pass too. It’s difficult to imagine one’s own way of life coming to an end, but if it happened to many civilisations and cultures before us, then why not ours? As it stands our civilisations hangs on the most precarious thread, far more so than the rest who have gone before us, because we’re relying on cheap energy to fuel our way of life and way of food distribution, and all the while we degradate the earth and her climate with our waste and our pollution and consumption so that we’re becoming more the steaming soup bowl swatted with floating flies rather than the beautiful planet we see from photographs taken from outer space.
So then, in the ultimate scheme of things, the civilisation that brought us to the present moment doesn’t account for much time at all. The Daintree rainforest north of Cairns is 150 million years old. The planet has survived longer than us. The 200 plus years that has seen the decimation of Aboriginal and American Indian cultures, as two examples, and all of the combined awesome knowledge of the land they lived on – every tree, every creature, every shrub, every survival tactic – has eroded irrevocably and never to return as an ongoing, central way of life while this civilisation goes on cogging its rusty old wheels with its electronic conveniences and wilful ways. In the ultimate scheme of things, perhaps how that was just meant to be, the Western Civilisation was to round up the planet and destroy it in its entirety so that out of the ashes the phoenix will rise again; a bird content on living for the planet, for each other as man and woman, for life and love, and it will be a dawning of oneness, not division.
So yes, the dreamtime shall return…
However, Jesus won’t!
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