The interior of Australia is a harsh and fragile environment and I would not want to make any judgments in terms of how it is to live out here. However one incident really did enrage me and I feel guilty for not saying anything! I was sitting outside a cafe in the early evening – it was quiet – hardly anyone around in the centre of Alice Springs – a couple approached in one direction and an elderly Aboriginal woman in the other (she had been wandering up and down trying to sell her husband’s painting to the few people around and I had briefly spoken to her). The Aboriginal woman asked the woman in the couple, who was smoking as she walked across the road towards the cafe, for a cigarette – the woman replied “there are shops that sell cigarettes you know, you could buy some” and dropped her half cigarette on the ground – the elderly Aboriginal woman of course bent down and picked it up. The couple just sniggered to each other and went into the cafe. I sat there in disbelief at such rudeness and racist behavior – I could have followed the woman into the cafe and confronted her but I didn’t, maybe it was because there were 2 of them and only 1 of me but nevertheless I feel like a coward now! What would you have done?
I have only witnessed one other sign of disrespect for the Aboriginal culture during my time up here (thank goodness!!) - a man in his 60’s continued taking photographs when an Aboriginal Elder had requested that he did not! He was a white European of course! Sometimes I feel ashamed of being white!!
Coincidently they showed the Australian aboriginal film ‘Samson and Delilah’ last night at the YHA where I am staying – you can see a review and clip from the movie HERE – the film is partly filmed in Alice Springs and explores issues of survival for two ostracised teenagers from a remote indigenous community in Central Australia. It is dark and sad and almost without dialogue with extraordinary acting
I must say that once I looked in-between the cracks, the issues that tourism glosses over, are quite evident! There is a population of 28,000 in Alice Springs and 33% are indigenous Aboriginal people. Throughout the rest of Australia this percentage drops to around 6% so it’s not surprising that the issues are most evident here – previously in my travels from Sydney down to Melbourne I hardly saw any Aborigines!
On my walk this morning I found this bird’s nest….
A small and poignant reminder of HOME (in 1 week!) ?