This time 8 years ago I was in Bourke, I was young, naive, and a long way from home. I was out there for a final year uni placement after expressing some interest in indigenous Australian health and closing the gap that exists between indigenous communities and non-indigenous ones. At the time I had no idea how life changing this trip to the outback would be. How much it would shape my life, ideas and opinions. How much I would appreciate the experience and insight I gained while I was there. Or how much the red dirt would get in my heart, and the hole that it would leave forever after that.
Fast forward to now, and as sad as it is to admit when I came home from Europe I was a little underwhelmed about being Australian, I was ashamed of my history and feeling a little lost, but this week, I have had my feet back in the red dirt and it feels like home.
Last week Dave and I spent our time exploring Uluru on a family holiday with Dave’s family, a trip unlike any we have been on before and my first trip to the Northern Territory. But this trip to heart of Australia has refreshed my soul. There is still a lot of my identity as a white Australian I am uncomfortable with, but I have been reminded of so much that we can be proud of.
The outback is magical and majestic and I have never experienced anything like it. The vastness of the desert, the size and scale of Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon, the simple beauty of our beautiful country and the incredible ability for life and culture to last even in the toughest and most extreme circumstances. I have found a new appreciation for our Aboriginal forefathers, and renewed my passion for bridging the gap between Australia’s two currently separated communities.
It is humbling to walk around the rim of Uluru and parts of Kata Tjuta, their overwhelming presence a reminder of how small man really is. It is incredible to think of the time they have stood and endured, almost as long as Australia has been Australia, these amazing structures have been here. As we walked through and along the rim of Kings Canyon it is impossible not to be impressed, where else in the desert can you find ferns and permanent waterhole? Or frogs and tadpoles who have waited for rain just for this chance to survive on the top of a desert rock. I was reminded that while Australia may not have the ‘white’ history of Europe, with buildings and statues from a long heritage that is familiar and , Australia’s history is rich in a completely different way. It has been around for a lot longer, as has its people.
So while there is still a lot to be done to reconcile all that is Australian, I am proud of this land, it’s people and to be Australian.