Leaving Australia today, so a last post before I fly. Saw this bumper sticker on a wharf in Darwin and thinking about ideas of country in context of the indigenous artists here and their responses to the land, they of course being the ur-poets of the bush. Those story tellers and singers and rock art painters who’ve been here for tens of thousands of years, singing. Their voices were quieter in the south, though perhaps it was just my ears, but as we headed north and further away from the big cities, they grew clearer and stronger, in places like Uluru and Kakadu, making a curious sense of this red universe of dunes and watering holes, rivers and rainbow serpents, spinifex and bush banana. Dreaming.
So, I’m going to give the last word of my Australian adventure to Oodgeroo Noonuccal: poet, writer, artist and activist, and the first aboriginal Australian to publish a book of verse. In language Oodgeroo means paperbark tree (a white-barked member of the myrtle family). Here are the last poignant lines of her poem ‘We are Going’ –
We are the quiet daybreak paling the dark lagoon. / We are the shadow-ghosts creeping back as the camp fires burn low. / We are nature and the past, all the old ways / gone now and scattered. / The scrubs are gone, the hunting and the laughter. / The eagle is gone, the emu and the kangaroo are gone from this place. / The bora ring is gone. / The corroboree is gone. / And we are going.