The river. I have seen the river, sometimes only stopping at Wilcannia to see its’ dwindling form or to notice the green movement, while on the way to even dryer places. Having in mind other times, stopping kilometres from the township, the river resembling the sea in its movement and width, a vast grey green flood.
How many times over 35 or so years have I looked down from the bridge over the Darling ? Seeing less and less of that mighty river that once made it possible for white settlers to make a fortune from river boating wool; it seems that river happens only through the viewing lens of commerce, to see the river, we seem to be using still, the old colonial notions of rivers as endless resources.
I can remember walking from the Menindee woodshed through the bush to explore along the river with the twin idea of fishing and of finding a bend in the river to paint from, and being shocked at the industrial scale and presence of the massive water pumps waiting in the heat like some thirsty alien.
Camped by Menindee lakes, I can remember my children swimming and the wildlife, the ice cold mornings at other times when camped there looking out wondering what the waters looked like, ‘once upon a time…..’ which could only truly be imagined and understood through the imaging of the Barkandji, who’s bones still make up the ever changing shore line. Without their help my thinking, my memories and reorientation, my paintings would be based solely on a European paradigm.
Water on many levels is the appropriate response to what is happening to the river, tears for the loss, a loss on many levels,food,the fish,the environment, the beauty of the river, tears that come shared with others like Badger Bates who was born on the river bend at Wilcannia.
Maybe forgetfulness comes through thoughtlessness .The problem may stem from both our loss of contact : with both the real world of nature and our inability to imagine other ways of seeing and knowing.
This thoughtlessness may be what will ,’cost’ us when facing the warming of our planet.