I’m basking under the sunshine in Cairns in Far North Queensland, Australia, at the moment enjoying a delusional early return to Spring. When I get back down south I will be back there in the close of the Aussie winter months but for now I can pretend it really is Spring.
They gazetted Cairns 1876, so it isn’t very old in Northern Hemisphere terms but that has an upside. Not many have tramped the escarpment on the lookout for golden dust or even the stray nugget, aside from our brief goldrush days of course. This city, for it is a prosperous city now, was named after some bloke who was then Governor of Queensland. It was to serve as a centre for those headed to the Hodgkinson River Gold fields tracking up through the beautiful Barron Gorge. But the Hodgkinson River gold field served the old miners badly as it was not the alluvial gold they sought but a quartz-reefing field where gold was hard won.
As an Aussie I get frustrated when I hear the comment that Australia has no culture or history. Or at the most a history that is only 200+ years old. I love history and it is a love that was engendered after I left formal education because the education system in our country focuses only on the history of the Northern Hemisphere with a smattering of English colonial thrown in… Kings, Queens and Dynasties. Something which I find I can’t relate to at all as I don’t identify with a social strata or class. I am simply Australian along with 22 million other Aussies of many creeds, colours and beliefs. Me and mine have been Aussies for hundreds of years and many generations.
I have had the opportunity to travel broadly, both within Aus and overseas and one of the most frustrating things I found in the history of places I visited in the Northern Hemisphere was that their history was so recent, barely 1,500 yrs old. Beyond that there often was zitto, now that is truly what could be termed recent. I have come to realize that when history is spoken of, people tend only to refer to the last few thousand years, totally ignoring everything beyond that, which is amazing really when you consider it. There in my dilemma lay… I don’t relate at all to what people generally consider as history.
Looking out over Central Australia
I find history in rocks, in ancient shoals, even in trees, which bear the weight of hundreds if not thousands of years. I look at a windswept rock formation and see a remarkable history that has looked-out over the land unchanged for tens of thousands of years and I take pride that our first Australians looked after the land so well, they understood it, and loved it well. I enjoy the isolation and remote places that have born witness to millennia of man treading across his country. I examine ancient rock art closely, which is the remnant of families settled around a campfire and the entertainment they took, or the ceremonies and stories they told as they comforted and amused each other and paced through their daily lives.