“Ye canne git work in theh cities, but ye cen alwiz find it out in theh country” said the girl I work with the other day.
A migrant from Ireland, she has lived and worked in this place for 2 years. I don’t know much about her; she’s not very talkative outside of her occasional observations about country life, and the complaints she makes about how little sleep she gets, or the differences in her eating habits in the various countries she’s been to… but this country/city observation she made does indeed appear to be the case for many young travellers.
They come to Australia in droves to reap the benefits of one of the world’s strongest current economies. Mining in Western Australia has seen a huge amount of migrant workers run into its open industrial arms, fleeing the economic problems of their homelands, searching for a better deal here amongst the dirt and the bush and the flies. They get jobs on the mines or in the pubs or in the cafes or whatever. They leave home, they have an adventure, they find a job they don’t necessarily have to have experience in, they learn as they go and then they get their cash.
Just like the way this nation (as we know it today) was founded; birthed of both a desire to explore, and of a wealth grab- searching for land in which you could raise cattle, raise sheep, grow wheat, mine gold; or to sell the information of these places you find to people who have the resources and inclination to do those things. Towns formed around the economy of this mindset, cities and new technologies grew from their profits. The farms and mines were where hands got dirty, while the cities run the business side of it.
Someone was telling me that most of the people they encountered working in the pubs in Kalgoorlie were not Australian. I can see how that would happen. The kids who are raised out there, they hear the call of the capital from their televisions sets from an early age, knowing instinctively that any big dreams they might have won’t be fulfilled unless they move to the closest city, or the one that most accurately reflects how they see themselves, or that will best provide the courses they want to do, the industries they want to get in to. That’s what my mother and her sisters did. That’s what a bunch of people I’ve met did. That’s what a whole bunch of the populations of our cities and suburbs did, I bet.
And as well, in a time when city and suburban kids are raised away from the land, with so few of their family members still out in the country anymore, with stories of drought and hardship and violence and all the other bad things, no wonder the youth of the quickly expanded populations of cities- reaping the economic benefits of unseen resources taken from elsewhere- are loathe to try to make their lives out here in the dusty heat.
And each to their own; it’s your life, whatever. BUT. I’ve been reading about the success stories of Australia’s regional areas- both now and in the past- and it appears that innovation and creativity is what boosts and drives failing economies, especially with solid leadership. These things inspire local communities to work together in innovative enterprises, challenging the negative portrayal these areas so often get in the media, and it’s not an entirely uncommon occurrence these days.
Areas in which traditional means of income- farming, wood chopping etc are impossible to earn in current conditions, have seen inspired community leaders using new technologies to generate income. Biotech with native plants, international retail of traditional crafts over the internet, small towns with artisan communities becoming tourist hotspots, investment in small towns to decrease the drain of the youth away from homes that may have been in their family for generations, to decrease the risk of over overpopulation in cities and the resulting destructive suburban sprawl, to show that we don’t have to be dependant on traditional industry to make a lving *cough TASMANIA cough*…
I’m inspired to say all this because of something my friend Nick said on Facebook, in response to a post I made about how I felt watching John Pilger’s “Utopia”. Nick said that he felt that not enough was mentioned in the film about the positive things that are going on around indigenous communities in Australia- and I think he was right. While Utopia is a film that is designed to shock Australian viewers out of the complacency so many seem to hold, and to highlight the racism inherent within our society… you still need a bit of positivity to show that they way forward is not necessarily an uphill battle, because there are those who are paving the way already, ready for everyone else to join in on equality and true reconciliation in this country as soon as they realise that it’s possible.
And this ties in with what I’m talking about with country Australia, not only because of the indigenous people living in these areas, but in terms of the way the problems are portrayed. It’s all very good to say, “our farms are fucked, drought keeps fucking us, the mines are fucked, racist Australia is fucked” etc, which so many- myself included- are prone to. But, perhaps we should be looking instead at what we think we can do to actually help those situations we’re horrified by. Complacency, and laziness, has all but destroyed our humanity.
And it’s pretty much for this reason that I’m out here, and it is why I’ve decided to keep travelling around the country after I leave this town. I want to keep looking at things and learning about things and writing things and learning the skills that I believe are necessary to provide to better future. I want to write the books I’ve always wanted to read about Australia but haven’t yet found, and I want to learn how to design food forests in all of our different climates so people are free from wage slavery in order to buy food.
Education, inspiration, creativity, dedication. Idealism tempered by pragmatism. I think it’s doable. This is going to be an ongoing theme (if it hasn’t been already?) because it’s something I never want to loose sight of. Also, I like to think that if I repeat myself enough, it could eventually inspire other people to explore the limits of their passions. Or whatever.