Take Nothing But Photographs
...and other environmental cliches.
We’ve all read/seen/heard it before but, that which goes without saying should rarely go unsaid, and the saying I’m especially talking about is, “Take nothing but photographs. Break nothing but the silence. Leave nothing but footprints.” The take nothing, break nothing, leave nothing cliche only seems a cliche because it’s so familiar to us now. Even people who “don’t care for the environment” know and mostly appreciate this.
In fact, I’d even say avoid breaking the silence, too. Maybe not to “monastic” levels of devotional vows of silence, but think of others who you may not have seen, but who may only a be a “within-earshot” ahead or behind you on a trail. Walk, ride, boat or other means of travel with a low-noise footprint. Part of the appeal of nature is the gentle noises - birdsong, wind in the trees or scrub, the gentle flow of a trickling stream.
And then somebody whoops and cheers loudly, swings in on a rope and splashes down noisily in the middle of the billabong. I’m not being a spoilsport, but when you weekend adventure, think of others like you, too. My first escape from the rat race in weeks, and you come swooping in on a rope, like an “ocka” Tarzan, scaring more than the fish in the water? Ask yourself which is the real spoilsport.
Enjoy the beauty of a place. Get to know your camping neighbours first. Talk in tones of respect for the land. Acknowledge that the land on which you sleep for that night never had its sovereignty ceded to white settlers, it was taken by force. Enjoy your adventure, but have reverence for the ground on which you tread, paddle or shred.
I write this blog on stolen Wurundjeri Willam and Wurundjeri Kulin lands. I acknowledge that their sovereignty was never ceded to my convict people, nor to the colonial authorities who enslaved both indigenous and convict, or those who hunted the traditional owners of this country. When I ride, walk or otherwise venture out to commune with nature, where I can, I try to find out who the first nations of that place are, and acknowledge with respect their connection to the land, their cultural heritage and elders of that place, past present and emerging.
I also acknowledge that Blak Nations, not the white invaders from whom I am descended, should be the primary arbiters of where an indigenous voice in the future of Australia begins.