We are currently back where we began many years ago.. in fact we are fluffing around what could be considered “Country”. The meaning of the term, in the Aussie modern vernacular, means a great deal. It is where you find your world, where you are at home even though it may not be your home anymore. It is often the place of your birth and passage to adulthood as within the Aboriginal meaning.
It is simply from where you soul or spirit emerged from ‘Mother Earth’. Our meaning of this reference “Country” originates with our Traditional First Australians and now has come to mean a great deal to many Aussies of all creeds and colours.
The traditional meaning has changed somewhat. In its traditional form “Country” signified the place where the soul is at home. Once traditional tribal people of the land knew the land intimately and the many seasons that are many more than just four. They knew each rock and tree and what it’s particular story was. This has changed as many stories and meanings have been lost with the westernization of the Australian way of life into what it is today. There are many advantages in today’s Aussie way of life however much has been lost down through our colonial history in the Killing Times.
Few of the Aboriginal heritage now understand the traditional meaning of “Country”, however we all feel the strong pull to “Country” none the less regardless of our heritage. We are those now born to the land and the land that is Australia has a way of seeping into your very being. Few know their “Country” as the traditional tribal people did but this does not lessen the pull to “Country” in a continent such as Australia. The Country still weaves its spell over its children regardless of their skin tone or language.
It is now time for us to return to our “Country” and play for a while and we are loving the ranging that we can do across this place. Once “Country” to the traditional tribal people was a large estate their mob knew well and one through which they roamed freely. Other families, or mobs shared this estate as it linked with their own, and was part of their own “Country” commonly.
Since the Dreamtime many families have moved across the land they know and love, mixing and marrying, trading, talking and fighting like families and factions do. Occasionally an estate or “Country” might become ‘orphaned’ but soon over time others would take up the tending and guardianship of the land. It was a land that traditionally owned them, not the other way around. It was a seasonal migration often and a time for ceremony when the groups came together to find partners, trade and dance the stories of their histories and legends and even to settle old grievances in the manner of their Lore.
The Man and I travel and we are “Grey Nomads, Caravan Division” and freecampers in this Land as with thousands of others. We wander in the manner that has been done since the Dreamtime, this across this land Australia, only we do it with a slight difference. We do not roam the seas and moor-up where we choose, we roam the land and commonly camp-up to enjoy our land where ever we may stop for a time.
We share my land and space with other like freecampers, at times with often, troublesome international “wicked campers”. We share with the homeless, the jobless and those who are pensioners, those who travel to work. We all pay taxes in one form or other today wether it be in the things we buy or the labours we undertake. We are ‘at large’… we roam where our whim takes us and the range of our estates is very large. But still, “Country” is a place we recognise readily before others.
This is a lifestyle we choose is one we enjoy. One we have more often than not paid a huge price for in $. Be this cost be in travel expenses, purchase of rig and equipment or in holiday activities. We bring prosperity to towns and cities. We keep traditions alive, not only in the way we live but also in the things we do. We attend races, festivals, and markets and buy goods as we go. We spread the word readily about how we find places and what our experiences are. We also work often and often not. We are the pickers who pick your fruit and veg’ that make their way to your tables and kitchens. We are the builders of communities and the farmhands in remote regions, in seasons.
We cook, we teach or we just sit in the shade and talk to those we meet. We are many things. We are a demographic that is often ignored as we are harder to control than many, but we are a very strong demographic none the less.
There are some places we are not welcome, usually by councillors and locals who have interest in milking us like cows. Each day they would have us pay a tide for the privilege of a caravan park wether we need it or not, wether we choose it or not. In my experience holiday parks are for holidays… and we do take holidays just like those with a fixed abode. We don’t like holidaying every day, every week, every month but amongst us are some that do. This too is their lifestyle choice. They too bring prosperity to towns, but usually to mostly one small business sector… we spread our money around a town, much more so as freecampers.
These places where we are not welcomed are well known amongst us. Places like Coffs Harbour NSW, Broome in WA, Exmouth and Esperance in WA… I could go on but you can find out about them on the web easily as RV unfriendly and notorious amongst us. We do not stay often, nor for long in these cities and towns. You can recognize them easily as there is one thing they do not have and that is a local rest area for travellers regardless of how remote they may be situated. These rest area’s were were once mandatory for any town worth its name. They have now vanished in some towns largely due to ‘penny pinching’ regulators. These towns don’t regard tired drivers as a hazard either and they only welcome one type of traveller, this is a cashed up holidaymaker. They are exclusively holiday towns, from a travellers point of view. We understand too that as travellers we are not welcome… unless we are on holiday that is.
They also commonly have little sense of public civic responsibility or public pride in welcoming all types of traveller. Amongst the general opinion of these towns hostile to travellers, the free camper is a anathema and we seem to threaten their prosperity for the strangest reasons. To us, it seems that they view a traveller as a “cow” which is to be milked daily. One that is not welcome unless they are cashed up and of a particular holidaying demographic willing to daily pay for ‘their brand’ of accommodation wether you need their facilities or not. It is no wonder that we do not stop there for there is commonly nowhere to stop, even for 24 hours.
However, now we are fluffing around “Country” that we do know well. We know where to camp-up in comfort and also just where it is that we are welcome. It is great to be on home ground and although I am going to enjoy our time here… gotta go north! It is getting damn freezing as winter sneaks in across the land.
Jan is a author and traveller. You can find an anthology of her travels in the publication “Discovering Australia and Her Lore”. This is a collection drawn from her blog and compiled into a e-book for ease of reading. Enjoy.
You can also find a listing of her blog posts related to travelling Aus’ under the tab “Oldies at Large”