Look for people: Musings on rights and worthiness

Part 1: ‘Look for people’-This is a road sign you see out around remote communities in the NT. People are part of the landscape even tho you might drive a long way and think no one is there. Other ‘signs’ are the countless fires and rock paintings.

At Litchfield Creek recently the absolute plethora of rock art is staggering. It is layered and some is very old; I guess that makes it more important right?

In my discoveries of rock art I found myself saying with judgemental disappointment “oh but it looks new!”


Wait a minute,  people are doing what they have always done  here and that is communicate meaningful information or stories through images, why am I questioning worthiness, just because people now are still doing this practice?

This mindset i.e. my western lens of conservation risks rendering Aboriginal culture static!

Part 2:  On this Litchfield Creek walk, there is no path, its a make your own way kind of route.   I was wandering out from the conga line of bushwalkers and another participant asked with judgement “why are you walking up there?” To which I replied that I was just finding my own way and exploring.

We seem to accept the rights of Aboriginal people to be living and roam on land but what about the rest of us who are also indigenous to the earth? Is our western lens of conservation of the ‘out there’, rendering our own culture in relationship to nature as static?!

Part 3: People here in Darwin ‘city’ are also gathering and sharing experiences of natureYou cant go 5 minutes in conversation without someone saying ominously “oh you wait til the build up” .  The paper also has a section dedicated to crocodile reports, houses are open and people are out at every opportunity it would seem all along the coast.  Why wouldn’t you have your work xmas in July when you have views like this (photo left).

This kind of human-nature interaction is celebrated by western culture; is that because it is ‘in here’ confined by concrete paths and cities?

My question is this:

If we are going to re-build the human-nature connection as is now considered to be of critical importance, how do we balance a conservation mindset with the idea of allowing people to be in and interact with their natural habitat ‘out there’ as well as ‘in here’. How do we determine what footprints are worthy?



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2 Responses to Look for people: Musings on rights and worthiness

  1. rhinophile says:

    I was listening to a podcast this morning called Shakti Hour with Melanie Moser, where she interviewed Terry Tempest Williams about her book, The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks. It was a very open exchange between these two women about connecting with nature, as they wonder how there are those in power who feel no connection. I think you might like it! ☺️

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