When I was in Australia, over ten years ago now, aboriginal Australia seemed largely absent from the coastal cities of the south and south-east. Not an uncommon sensation for newcomers and visitors, I suspect.
It wasn’t until I visited Darwin and other parts of the Northern Territory that I felt I had arrived in the Australia of my preconceptions, as well as the Australia of certain desires I perhaps held at the time. I had heard accounts of horrific events and read about the chronically dislocating effects of colonial and other incomer changes wrought on the aboriginal people of Australia. I had witnessed a couple of saddening sights first-hand too. But I felt that at least here I was closer to Australia’s soul, where people’s connections with their environment were “real, deep and distinctive”, as in steeped in ancestry and a profound understanding of the land.
Then again, I might have been “place dreaming”. You see I was also aware that those Australians who helped impart all this to me were in fact white descendants of Europeans, particularly a remarkable friend of my parents, the late Lance Brooks. They too had intimate connections with this part of Australia.