A radical life changing story of how a woman walks away from her 'norm' seeking ancient knowledge first from the Aboriginal Australians and then finding her path being steered towards Tibetan Buddhism.
As I travel around I’m curious to see what’s happening in the Aboriginal Communities. Are they flourishing? Loving life? Practising their traditional culture? Raising cute little babies in a natural bush life?
Where I call home base is a small mountain community of people who live in the bush quite simply. They live in small wooden huts or cabins with water tanks to catch rain water and fireplaces to warm them in the winter months. There’s no snow in these parts but it gets cold enough that a fire makes life more pleasant. Sure, there are some streets where the houses are more normal – brick buildings with a garden around it. Many people have gardens of culinary and medicinal herbs, vegetables and fruit trees. They collect nuts when it’s time to harvest them and roast them over a fire. And some have chickens or guinea fowl and eat the eggs – sometimes even the chickens. Some places have mainstream electricity while others are more self sufficient with solar panels or simply just live with candles and the sunlight. Some people give birth to their children naturally in the bush – without help from the medical industry or doctors. Children walk to school themselves in the quiet friendly streets and they meet up with friends at the park and play before heading home for dinner. The grocery stores stock every type of health food you can imagine – so you can eat well in this environment and feel younger every day. And people do! It’s a safe and loving community.
In my mind I imagined the Australian Aboriginals enjoying such a lifestyle. In their culture they have this amazing knowledge to build huts and eat bush tucker – living by a fresh silvery water stream. Babies would be born naturally in the bush with old women with knowledge of bush medicines supporting. I imagine the children running free in the bush and playing with all sorts of animals – and really using their imagination to the fullest.
I imagined this.
But that’s not what’s happening.
Every Australian Aboriginal community I’ve been to has houses – brick houses that have been abused and are run down. There’s rubbish in the street – when they go shopping they toss their rubbish on the grass, in a bush – which makes the community look run down. The remnants of alcohol never too far away.
The government supports people in Australia. If you don’t have a job – and there are many unemployed people – then you are given money to live while you are looking for work, gaining a trade or getting a University degree. The government gives the same amount of money to the people in my home base community that they do to the Aboriginal communities.
So, here I am with high hopes in my heart to learn from Aboriginal Australian people this amazing culture they have. I’m eager to learn Bush Medicines and Bush Tucker. I go into a community – and look around and see the same old same old. The community is no longer a community. Traditional knowledge is only known in fragments. Nothing is whole and complete any more.
When I went into the Daly River Community I saw a gang of boys from age 7-15 who were yelling, “We hate fucking white people!” to the tourist’s pristine white caravan – people who went to the community shop for supplies. The locals told me that this small gang had recently vandalised a shop there and the police made them spend a day cleaning it up. People’s houses get broken into regularly there. People say the gangs take after the USA black African Amercian gangster style with hats on backwards, baggy jeans and much hate and swearing. I was baffled and so continued to listen. Supposedly what happened is that the older generation raised by nuns in the Catholic religion and went to school so they know how to read and write. The next generation wasn’t raised by Catholic nuns so they have started going back to their culture – which doesn’t exist within the people any more (because they were discouraged to practice) which leaves them seemingly confused. And then you’re left with the young ones who seem to be quite troubled with all the confusion.
Luckily they have Miriam Rose who is a well known Aboriginal woman who was born in the bush here. This woman has such a big heart dedicated to helping her people. Unfortunately, when I was visiting the Daly River community Miriam was busy doing a woman’s workshop with Westeners. I was lucky enough to briefly be there and saw some of her paintings and discuss her relation to my good friend Wiruungga Dunggiirr. Miriam is quite famous so if you’d like to know more about her please GOOGLE her name.
People have made great comments about the Tiwi Islands because they are said to be a friendly lot of people and are happy to talk to anyone. They are VERY happy to talk to tourists and know when the ferry is coming into town. They offer their artwork – painted rocks, paintings on canvas, woodwork, boomerangs, hand woven baskets, and so on. The streets look the same as other communities. Run down houses, rubbish every where.
And so I thought to myself – Geez, it’d be nice to sit here for a few days and really get to know the locals – rather than just see the same old same old again – yet ideally I just wanted to get to know the people better rather than just on a one day basis judgement call. Some white folk live and work on the island too – so I kinda figured I could too – might be fun, right. The only accommodation I was offered was $250. It was a very small cubby house sized room with air conditioning. That’s where they put the tourists. Oh be geebers! Even in a big city such as Cairns you get can accommodation for $50 in the tourist season – if you book in advance.
With all this pristine prime real estate under foot – the only accommodation they had was $250. I mentioned it to a local Aboriginal woman – “hey, it’d be really great to have traditional Aboriginal style huts here where people could sleep for $20/night” – and she agreed, but then said that if she were to set that up then the other people would get jealous and it would start a fight about whose land that section belonged to and about the money.
Same old, same old.
Wars about land and money. Run down buildings. Rubbish on the street. Everyone is living in a poverty type situation even though they receive the same money that people in my home base does.
I’ve even heard of projects where a lot of money was given to the people to do something amazing in the community – many projects and much money – yet all fail. In all communities.
I scratch my head in bewilderment.
At home base people have the same money and make luscious gardens and seek new opportunities to grow themselves and generate money. Why on earth is this ANCIENT CULTURE – Aboriginal Australian communities – not flourishing? I really wish they were.
But wait – I did hear of that one community on the EAST COAST, Far North Queensland, who was successfully getting their people to work together to do tours!
Aha! I wonder how they are doing that? And is it still going successfully? I’ll put my PI hat on and do some investigation. Will let you know what I find. 🙂
A needle in a haystack.