Australian Landscape -- Crowded World
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Pictures of the Carnavon Gorge, Central Highlands, Queensland, Australia
Pictures of the Carnavon Gorge, Central Highlands, Queensland, Australia

Pictures of Roma, Queensland, and Surrounding Towns
Pictures of Roma, Queensland, and surrounding towns

Aboriginal Australia

Frog and Toad's Aboriginal Australia

Frog and Toad's Aboriginal Australia

Aboriginal Languages

Aboriginal Languages






UNCLONED LAND - the australian landscape
A COUPLE OF ADJECTIVES ARE OFTEN USED TO DESCRIBE THE AUSTRALIAN LANDSCAPE -- in particular "flat", "dry" and "endless". Australia is in essence a huge place and it feels like an exceptionally old place as well. It can often feel like a dead place, particularly in the Outback with its sun-bleached plains devoid of any moisture, stunted shrubs and prickly-flowered plants. It is like the whole continent is worn out, exhausted, once great mountains eroded to their stumps by literally billions of years of erosion. Australia is a very alien country which challenges the newcomer to accept its wild beauty -- on its own terms. This posed a tremendous problem to the early white inhabitants who, as I stated before, often didn't want to be there in the first place. The very alieness of the landscape created a culture shock for the modern Australian nation which, in a sense, is only gradually wearing off.

This excerpt from Frederick (Friedrich) Gerstaecker's 1857 book, The Two Convicts, provides a typical European reaction to the reality of the Australian landscape:

"Vast, fearfully vast and endless distances stretch out in hills and plains; but without the pleasant and definite character usually imparted to a country by undulating scenery. Not a drop of water flows through these wastes; no clear brook bubbles along the valleys, offering to the hunter and wanderer a fixed and definite course which he can follow as a guide out of these wastes. As the waves of the sea, to which the word of the Almighty has assigned their place, spread out in all directions, so, for hundreds of miles, do the malley-bushes extend over desert salt tracts, upon which even the native blacks dare not venture. Heat, and a fine, salt, sandy dust, threaten to deprive the traveller of his sight... the hot wind which blows from the interior is sufficient to burn up all vegetation of the distant colonies, over which it passes with its withering breath..."

This view, from Robin Boyd's The Australian Ugliness (1960):

"The Australian bush was made in one of nature's more relaxed, even casual moods. Everything is evergreen, yet this term is often ironic, at least in relation to the ubiqitous gum tree. Certainly the eucalypt is not deciduous, but it is sometimes blue, often olive-grey, and occasionally brown. Measured against a fresh green European ideal, the Australian bush provides a slovenly scene. The grass grows long, ochre, and rank. Most eucalypts are undisciplined in the extreme, their branches straggling wildly with disconnected tufts of leaves... They do not drop their leaves suddenly or predictably, but all through the year in a slummocky way, and are likely at unexpected moments to add to the dry brown mess at their feet a dead branch or length of bark which one of them has discarded, having finished with it. The wattle and the other native trees are almost as indolent in their habits, lounging at drunken angles on the shabby, cracky, threadbare ochre carpet... It is all most unpleasant, measured against the European ideal..."

The logical result of this culture shock and the inability to appreciate theAustralian-ness of Australia is that early European settlers tried to exterminate the existing order, and build a new Europe. The project failed, but all over Australia you can see signs of the genocide which was attempted -- English willows growing wild on dry river banks, imported rabbits scurrying through the ochre scrub. The refusal to accept Australia for what it was had another effect, as feminist Germaine Greer has pointed out: after trying to redeem the land and recreate as a new Europe, white colonists retreated to the shores and huddled themselves together in a couple of major cities. The end result: despite its vast empty spaces, Australia is one of the most urban countries in the world, with 85 per cent of its people living in cities. In the next chapter I want to introduce you to the urban Australian experience, and detail the strange Aussie dicotomy of "the city and the bush".


THE UNCLONED WORLD IDEOLOGY: These days it is so easy to get in a plane and fly to the other side of the world, and disgorge yourself into an alien country. In a way, travel has become a commodity, an experience, to be bought and sold on the markets of exchange. This is the age of the Lonely Planet adventurer, journeying out with his/her guidebook, trying to capture an experience of the alien and the exotic. People complain these days that the world is becoming uniform, that there are McDonalds and Starbucks Coffee Houses on every corner, the world is becoming smaller and less interesting. This may be true on the surface level, since the capitalists have only ever been interested in surface details. Scratch a little deeper, however, wherever you are, and you find a deeper world still exists, everywhere. UNCLONED WORLD is aimed at raising your consciousness enough to locate the hidden exoticness of space, buried beneath the McDonalds and all the Starbucks. Travel can still be as exhilarating today as it was in the time of Marco Polo. You just need an open mind -- to peer beneath the surface veneer of samenes, the surface veneer of capitalism. You would be surprised what exists down there, not destroyed but merely resting, waiting for its resurrection into the light!