Aussie Identity

28th January 2021

When I was seven, I grabbed my bike and rode up our gravel laneway on our property in Denmark. About two kilometres up, I felt something thump behind me. Naturally, I began peddling faster and that's when a giant male kangaroo bounced right up next to me.

Terrified, I looked to him, anticipating a kick to the face. Curiously though, the kangaroo looked back too and, for this moment, fear abated. In that state of relative calm, I was taken aback with profound appreciation for the animal’s majestic beauty. The kangaroo jumped great distances with the merest effort. The powerful haunches barely contracted with each graceful leap. I could’ve watched the animal for hours, of course, but within seconds, the animal left, veering back into the bush.

But the experience inspired the most inexplicable feeling. I stopped riding and lay on the fallen eucalyptus leaves to the side of the trodden path and watched the western sun dapple through tree canopies, feeling part of, not separate to, the land. Here the laws of nature didn’t feel chaotic or threatening, something to be conquered, but harmonious and deeply nurturing like a mother’s outstretched arms. There was a yearning to stay here, nestled in the foliage. I wanted to remain part of this unanimity which was so bereft in the world of humans, the world of drama and separation and conflict.

After that, I’ve always viewed the land with deeper reverence and that is why, given this week of celebrating Australia’s identity, I want this digital article to pay respects to the original custodians who had to watch those—who couldn’t see this sanctity, whose hearts had hardened—tear down these sacred and longstanding cathedrals, severing the sacred bonds and ties that brought harmony to the land on which we stand, as well as to the hearts of those who are now in exile in their own land.