Tuesday, 8 May 2007
N O U R I S H I N G T E R R A I N S
Welcome In or Welcome back to my country who ever you are.
I am not a native aboriginal of this land, however in my first 4 years I was raised in Nanya country on South Australian sandy mallee on a station running 6000 sheep on 60 square miles which blows out to around 360, 000 acres.
Here our Father followed the practice of burning country as the old people of this gentle fragile country had done for endless generations before the sheep and cattle arrived.
That Station was known to us as "Canopus" after the star that led the squatters into the land some 35 years before us.
"Canopus" fortunately has now been returned to a national park under the name of Danggali Conservation Park lying 90 km north of Renmark, in the northern half of the Murray Basin adjacent to the New South Wales border. The park is known for its vastness and wilderness appeal and is dominated by Mallee scrubland.
In 1977 Danggali Conservation Park was classified as Australia's first Biosphere Reserve under UNESCO's "Man and the Biosphere Program". The park provides visitors with opportunities to enjoy remote area camping, interesting bird watching and the chance to explore relics of pastoral history.
So having watched Australia agriculture constantly disintegrate under the pressure of a "competitive " market system I am delighted to see the wheel turning full circle with deserving recognition due to the aboriginal people who manned this fragile and gentle land so sensibly for 40,000 years and white man has watched it blow and erode closer to a desolation of movings sands in a 100 year hour glass.
Following is information about a book about Australian Aboriginal Views of Landscape and Wilderness recorded into a PDF book Commissioned by the Gederal Govt and written by Deborah Bird Rose titled Nourishing Terrains -
Indigenous Australians have helped to create the landscape. Through their continuing relationship with the land, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have developed a comprehensive knowledge of its resources and needs. Their land management practices are complex techniques that rest on a vast body of knowledge which is now being incorporated into biological research, land management, language, art and many other facets of contemporary Australian life.
Indigenous people’s wisdom and rights in relation to country are now widely appreciated. Australians of European descent increasingly appreciate that what they have called and cherished as ‘wilderness’ has a long history of human use, and these areas continue to be the ‘nourishing terrains’ of Indigenous Australians. This has resulted in a shift in the understanding of wilderness to reflect the human history of those landscapes.
As Deborah Bird Rose says ‘There is no place without a history; there is no place that has not been imaginatively grasped through song, dance and design, no place where traditional owners cannot see the imprint of sacred creation’.
The role of the Australian Heritage Commission is to identify heritage places which are part of Australia’s National Estate. The Commission recognises that Indigenous values and knowledge are important in the management of heritage places, and encourages understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.
Within this context, the Commission asked Deborah Bird Rose to write this book to explore Indigenous views of landscape and their relationships with the land.
This book provides an overview of Indigenous perspectives, and captures the spiritual and emotional significance of the land to Aboriginal people. The poems, songs and words of Indigenous people included in this book testify the undeniable strength of their feeling and connection with their land.
I hope this book will foster a greater understanding amongst non-Indigenous
Australians of the significance of Aboriginal connections with country. Such an understanding is essential if we are to develop better relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
Wendy McCarthy AO
Australian Heritage Commission