Thursday, 26 January 2012
It’s Australia Day today. It’s a day when half of Tennant celebrates while the other half mourns. Knowing where to stand on a day like today can be tricky, so I tend to stand alone. From the top of One Tank Hill you can look down over our town, not quite nestled in the foothills of the Honeymoon Ranges.
Most people go there to see Tennant from a distance and be convinced for a few deceptive moments that harmony lives here. I go there to see Tennant as it really is - an island, standing alone in a vast ocean of spinifex and red dirt.
On a clear day you can see right to the edge of the earth, to the gentle curving horizon from up there. Standing in the silence, it’s easy to believe that the world outside is too far removed to reach you. That if you stretch out your hand, nothing will touch it. That no one can reach in and touch you.
Its a view with the power to evoke a primal fear, revealing to you just how small and vulnerable you really are. The hot dry air sweeping up from the ancient plains below, carries with it that palpable uneasiness those first European settlers left behind - disconnected from their homeland, feeling alone in a harsh and unforgiving landscape, an uncertain future ahead of them.
Its also a view, that if you let it, can draw you into its protective embrace. It promises to hold at bay the world outside, unable to cross that vast and seemingly endless emptiness. Standing there, its easy to understand how forty thousand years of living here could lull you into a false sense of security. Make you believe you were safe from that inevitable invasion.
This is the original Australia. This view. This landscape. This isolation. Out here you can touch our past, connect with the land that has shaped us, made us who we are. Its easy in these times of high speed connectivity to forget that we are all islanders, that we are in this together. But stand up there, alone on One Tank Hill, and that landscape will remind you who we really are.