Across Continents

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Difficult questions

Two things intrigue me about Australia. The continent’s flora and fauna – stinger trees, kangaroos, koalas, crocodiles, possums, brown snakes, deadly spiders, even penguins – a pretty unique ecosystem. And the Aboriginal people. The indigenous race. And it’s understanding the latter, their place in today’s society, that’s proving to be particularly tricky.

Need to get past the digiridoos. The drunks slumped about in the centre of Cairns. The altercations. The alcohol restrictions imposed in the indigenous reservations. Even the telling nature of Aboriginal English. Expressions such as sitting about money to describe State handouts. Objectivity is playing hard to get.

Searching for the positives, allowing me to put together a suitably balanced piece, isn’t, I fear, going to be that easy. But hardly surprising. For, societal structures and cultural heritage aside, technologically the unescapable fact is that, prior to the arrival of the first British settlers, the Aborigines were just shy of the Stone Age. Problems inevitable. Unavoidable. An uncomfortable truth? Or just an unspoken one?

If this seems a little harsh, consider how one generation in the West invariably struggles to come to terms with the technology of the next. Multiply that by a thousand or so and you can perhaps see why difficulties must arise. We shouldn’t be in the least bit surprised. Issues Australia has been wrestling with since the first settlers arrived. Adopting various approaches. Some pretty abhorrent by today’s norms. Much to mull upon.

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