Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Stripper on the rock

To climb or not to climb.

I'm a geologist - I've made my living through understanding the very earth that makes this country, the past life, fossils, and earth shaping events that have changed it over billions of years.
Tho genetically I'm ultimately from the UK, my great great grandparents were born here. The atoms that make my body are from the wheat and sheep and other plants that grow and graze on this land.
I am made of Australia.
I am Australian.
Aboriginals are no more connected to the land than I and have no greater claim than I.
It is my rock too.

And I wish to climb it. For me it is a near spiritual experience - to look out over the vast desert it commands and be Australian.

This chick's behavior insults the grandeur of the place and is disrespectful to everyone. However, the argument that the rock should not be climbed is still not valid. The rock is symbolically important to European and all other Australians as well.

Whatever Aboriginal Australian's my wish we are here to stay now. We are 'sorry' but we can't apologise for being here - we to have sacred sites to which we make our pilgrimages in ways appropriate to our culture and identity.
Aboriginal Australia needs to come to terms with the fact that locking people out of picturesque and majestic places will not engender non-aboriginal people with a will to protect and conserve our fragile landscape.

11 comments:

Ute said...

Here fucking here!!!!!!

I'm sorry, but I had no choice in the matter of being born here. I am an Australian.

And I am no more responsible for my ancestors past, than the Aboriginals are for their ancestors past.

xl said...

Exactly the same issues in Hawaii.

Lady Pants said...

hmm. I have somewhat mixed feelings about this issue, but probably lean in the opposite direction to you (quel surprise! ;) )

Aboriginal Australians have certain sites of the Australian landscape as their place of worship. I think they have the right to ensure the sanctity of those places, just as those who worship in churches, synagogs, mosques, etc should have the right to ensure their places of worship are not defiled.

By not allowing people access to these sites, I do not think that this necessarily reduces peoples ability to care about their preservation. For me, it just reinforces their spiritual (and greater cultural) significance.

I do feel a connection to the physicality of Australia as someone who was born here. But I don't think this is anything like the connection of an Aboriginal person whose spiritual practice is totally bound up with the land. And even if you don't believe in such spiritual practices and beliefs, they are real to the people to whom they belong to. Australia belonged to the Aboriginals for thousands and thousands of years, and the British stole custody of their land 200 odd years ago. I don't feel personally responsible for that, but I do feel the Australian government was right to formally apologise. And whilst I don't feel *responsible*, I am still absolutely sorry for what has happened to the Aboriginal people, especially the Stolen Generation.

oops small essay.

xl said...

PS: I remember another story about nude rock climbing...

unique_stephen said...

Ute > Agreed, pass the XXXX

XL > French strippers everywhere?

LP > You're forgiven.

XL > Naturism is on way of getting close to nature.

unique_stephen said...

P.S. XL, shhh don't tell LP there's nudes of me out there on the net - she'll start stalking me

ksm said...

I climbed Uluru back in 1983 when I was 13 and I am glad that I did. It is quite an experience.

I have also been on guided tours through St Peter's in Rome, gawked at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

At Uluru I didn't respect the Aboriginal traditions, and in Rome I didn't respect the traditions of the Catholics.

I was respectful with buying into the superstition of either group. Reality is not a subjective thing.

Lady Pants said...

hmm, I believe reality *is* subjective - there are multiple realities existing at anyone time, all of which are equally real to the things perceiving them. Hello Mr Schrodinger, meet cat. But that's just nitpicking. One person's superstitious bullshit is another's fundamental belief.

Stephen, please be advised that things have escalated far beyond internet stalking. I liked the pants you were wearing yesterday better, by the way.

Rusty said...

Yes, what were they thinking?! ... asking us to respect their customs and spritual beliefs as the recognised traditional owners of this land?!

Fact of the matter is that the land surrounding the rock is legally owned by the traditional Aboriginal owners - so we are in fact just visitors on someone's property. Why is it so hard for people to accept and respect that it is deep within the core of their religion that Uluru is sacred? I experienced a trip to Alice, Uluru and the surrounds with an indigenous guide and I think this experience changed my whole outlook on the issue.

And as far as I have experienced, no Aboriginal has ever suggested that I am any less connected to the land than they are, nor have they ever suggested that we should leave?

This post of yours was a bit of a disappointment.

unique_stephen said...

Rusty > Mate, I'll be sure to pass on your message of respect an tolerance next time the Aboriginal kids down the south coast tell me to "Get off our fucking land whitey".

As a geologist I spent many years in the company of the locals in many regions of outback Australia. I really appreciated that time and I am generally compassionate to Aboriginal concerns, but reserve not be be a complete left wing walkover.

Not at all sorry to disappoint.

xl said...

"Get off our fucking land whitey."

Hey, that's exactly like Hawaii, too!