I am no good at goodbyes. I also don’t really believe in goodbyes. Today we can find each other again so easily, you never really say goodbye. This blog keeps me connected to people. I haven’t seen a lot of people here to say goodbye as such, because I am not gone completely. I will come back to visit, maybe even return for a period again possibly. Who knows? But a visit is definite.
So, this afternoon, after the packing and cleaning I went up to Untyeye-artwilye (Anzac Hill). I suppose I was saying goodbye, to the landscape and to the people I have worked with here that have passed on. There are many of them. But I took solace in knowing that they went back into country and that they are all around me here.
I remember sitting with one old man on his veranda. I won’t name him out of respect for his family. We sat there, on upturned milk crates with cardboard for a seat, and discussed the amount of development in the town the damage to scared places. I remember it like it was yesterday, but it was many years ago.
He taught me a huge amount about this culture, for which I will be ever grateful. This is not something you can get from books and I was very privileged to be able to gain that information. Today I stood on the hill that represents two cultures viewpoints of sacred, but the Indigenous space to me was the legitimate one. The imposition of a war memorial is a glaring testimony to colonial domination. War is hell and war memorials do little to sooth my views on this. As ex-military who saw the end of the Operation Desert Storm from Australia domestically, I don’t believe war is inevitable or any way glorious; I believe it should be avoided at all costs. Whilst I understand Australian’s ANZAC legacy all too well (my father was a WWII veteran), I struggle to understand why we cling to violent histories. I don’t believe we should continue to honour one perspective only and that all histories from all cultures are important.
So, I stood on the hill and remembered the custodians and elders I have worked with who are now gone. I remembered my commitment to a fairer, more just world filled with diversity and culture. I silently apologised to those elders for leaving, but promised that I would continue to work for that fairer and more just Australia through whatever medium that is presented to me.
I looked up at the Aboriginal flag flying proudly. It took 30 years and 14 years of debate to have this here, on top of this Aboriginal sacred site, alongside the other flags.
I am glad it is here finally, even if only for special commemorations and days of the year. When I next visit I hope it is a permanent fixture.
Tonight, I stay with a dear friend on her property 20km’s or so, south of Alice Springs.
There will be food and fireside chat.
It will be a beautiful departure.
Then up at 5.30 am and on the road the 1200 km to Port Augusta.