Friday, October 17, 2008

Shiriri Saga #60. Sailing in Thin Water.

Kingfisher Lodge. Fraser Island.

If we were on edge sailing up to the sandy shores of Australia in what seemed like frighteningly shallow water (30 Feet deep) after the ocean depths, then squirming down Sandy Strait has our eyes on the depth finder as we dodge from buoy to buoy along the channel between the mainland and Fraser Island. When we reach Kingfisher Resort and our anchor goes down at the end of the day we heave a sigh of relief. After dark, two more yachts arrive and make a lot of noise as they circle and shout back and forth. Pony of Rassamond, in the center of it all, is not one to suffer in silence. " Go away! You`ve woken me up!" Do not tangle with an ex London bobby!
Ashore the next morning, we walk up a boardwalk from the beach to the resort through a eucalypt forest. There are no farm fields here, no flocks of people, and we can look and listen to the natural sounds of this new continent. Trees we do not know, bird calls we can not identify.... this is terrific! We stop at the little resort store and buy half a dozen eggs for $ 2.50. Ouch! -there are some problems with the wilderness. We buy Heather a tee-shirt with a dingo on the front, one of the Fraser Island attractions.
The dingo is the wild dog of Australia and arrived thousands of years ago with the first Aboriginal peoples who had migrated here from out of Africa.
The dingo is a mixed blessing. While it`s nice to have a wild population on the island, they are wild and do not mix well with campers with food supplies and children. There have been attacks on people and reprisals by the park staff. We are looking at a variation of our pacific island experiences and are back on the interface between competing groups and priorities - in this case the use of a park for recreation competing with leaving a wild population of other creatures completely alone to pursue their own destiny. It`s complicated; the dingo and the aboriginal peoples have, over time, themselves impacted the Australian flora and fauna. How many species of plants and animals have disappeared since their arrival? If all humans were kept off the island, would they care to maintain it`s status if it had no human value? On this sandy island we have met a big philosophical problem. Do things have intrinsic worth outside of our human oriented world view?
Of course we would say yes, but we have just come out of the ocean wilderness where we have been mere fly specks of humanity within an immense world of life going about it`s affairs. We are still mentally in that apart world and cherish that perspective even as we feel alienated still from our own tribe. What we do know, is that these interfaces between different human populations and between humans and the rest of the natural world are a place where change is happening and that makes it a very interesting place to be. The world has always been in a dynamic balance of constant change and adjustment. That`s how it was formed and it is no wonder if that is still how it behaves.

As we gradually adjust to Australia, we are ourselves swept up in this current of change and adjustment. The pain of the alienation we feel tells us we are alive and a vital part of the world.

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