Thanks to Ian McNamara ( Macca ) host of Australia all over ( ABC radio Sunday mornings ) the scartrees have received a bit of publicity lately. He interviewed me back in April on the banks of the dry Barwon and has played the recording a couple of times on his show. Each time he does scartree aficionados email me with their own pics and sightings or just general chat about their significance in the Australian landscape.
The interest of a few enthusiasts will not make much of a dent in the Australian psyche so I suggest a few relevant questions be included in a citizenship quiz for prospective migrants. If such a quiz could be backdated to 1770 perhaps the nation would be better informed? Here is a sample 1What is the difference between an Aboriginal scarred tree and carved tree? 2 What is a Dendroglyph? 3 What is a coolamon and what was it used for? 4 Why did the early surveyors scar trees and what are these scars called? 5 What is a Bora/Borah ceremony and were carved trees involved? …..etc.etc.
I was in Dubbo recently and went to the western plains cultural centre to see their carved tree exhibition. The trees on display were fantastic with 2 thought to be engraved with stone tools only. The designs were clear, distinct and well preserved while the presentation of historical photos & information was excellent as well. Im so glad they weren’t left mouldering in storage or archived somewhere inaccessible for another 20 years. This is the situation with many artefacts all around the country. Most of these are not “sacred” but remain hidden due to perceived “sensitivities” in the community. Why not ask the Elders of the first nations involved? Many objects have been stored for so long the people have forgotten them. This doesn’t only happen in the regions, the Australian Museum in Sydney has shields from here and no one but a few curators and staff have ever seen them.
Since this blog started with some shameless name dropping I will finish in the same manner. I also had an email from Denise Bowden, CEO of the Yothu Yindi foundation and director of the annual Garma festival. I googled her remarkable career and was so impressed that Charlie & I decided to go up to Nhulunbuy in August and see the festival for ourselves. I can thank the scartrees for setting me on a different path and opening my eyes to diverse cultures. Like learning another language, understanding alternative cultures takes time. Such a path requires an open mind and an open heart. It’s funny how casual racism is just a normal part of growing up white in rural NSW … you don’t even question it. Until you do.