The entrance to the Stringybark Creek Bushwalk is not far from my apartment a couple miles north of the Opera House in Sydney, Australia. If you planned a hike in this government-funded nature reserve smack dab in the middle of one of the largest cities in the world – Sydney is home to 5.7 million people – you could be forgiven for thinking you might not see much bush on your Bushwalk, but you’d be wrong.  Soon after you set off, the sights and sounds of the city are swallowed by the densely packed canopy above. Forty minutes and a few random turns later you start to wonder – especially if you’ve decided to go without your phone for the afternoon – whether you’ll be able to find your way back home. A half hour later, emerging from the Bushwalk a few steps away from a pub with a Sunday schnitzel and beer special, you wonder why you were ever worried in the first place.

Contradictions like this abound in Australia. A continent roughly the size of forty-eight of the fifty US States, it has about as many people as just one: Florida. Aussies mainly live near the world’s best beaches on the temperate outskirts of a country whose interior is notoriously inhospitable – the residents of Coober Pedy burrow underground to escape the elements. Colonized by captive British convicts in the eighteenth century, Australia has become, in the twenty-first, both a realm of the British crown and one of the most free countries in the world, thirteen spots above the United States.

Australia, unlike many other countries, has no formalized written agreement with its aboriginal peoples. But spend enough time here and you will hear an informal acknowledgement, usually recited at the beginning of a large gathering, that goes something like this, “I wish to acknowledge the custodians of this land, the [Aboriginal group/clan] people of the [Aboriginal nation] nation and their Elders past and present. I acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region.”

Along with that acknowledgement, and in honor of the start of this series on Australian culture, I want to acknowledge the custodians of this website. I respect each of their ongoing contributions to the nascent right-wing counterculture and I look forward to playing whatever part I can in nudging it forward.

Next Up, Part 2: Educating Kevin


Photo by skeeze (Pixabay)