Things Are Getting Desperate
I met Chris at a place on the outskirts of Blackheath, at an abandoned mine site. He has been visiting this site regularly after work, maybe 2-3 times a week, imagining and beginning to create a new lifestyle and place to practice culture and actively care for Country. Being on this site, he explained, would allow him and other Aboriginal people, to do things we can’t do anywhere else (such as spear and boomerang throwing).
When we visited the site, Chris showed me where he is beginning to imagine a rock shelter and home with a living room, bedroom, fireplace and bathroom area, a home created out of the landscape.
‘It’s so incompatible with the ancestors’ culture, to dig out a place; to use existing rock shelters, sure! But you never know when the law’s going to change and they’re going to claim that rock shelter or something, or we’re not allowed to do something. So I thought … we’ll just start, and they can have academic conversations around us being here … They’ve already ripped through here to put in a railway line that they used to haul the coal out [with] so a little shelter just off from this shouldn’t trouble anyone too much.’
Chris explains he feels welcome in this place, and hopes to be involved in the healing of this country.
‘As soon as I stepped onto this bit of country, I got a sign that let me know, that yeah this is where it is to be … It was only when I finally started digging where I felt that was a good thing.’
Chris is not seeking exclusive use of this tract of land. He is however highlighting how difficult it is for us to live on our own land and connect with country if that is what we want to do.
‘We have to be able to afford to live here … it’s hard to connect with country when you work …I’m a guide for the National Park here, people think I know this place like the back of my hand, but we don’t get to walk the country much because we are going to work everyday.’