jan_can_too (jan_can_too) wrote,

Australia Day 29: In which O is significant

We went back to the Australian Museum. Since T. and I had been there last, they opened a new exhibit about the Canning Stock Route. Canning was a guy with cattle. The goal was to get the cattle to the consumers. He made a road across the land with wells along it at reasonable intervals. Sounds totally reasonable.

Except. Indigenous people already lived there. Water sources are not only practical necessities, but also spiritual centers. Conflict ensued. The indigenous people, as usual, got the worst of it. I confess that I did not read all the gory details; the outline was enough.

What raises the exhibit above the typical tragedy of exploitation is the art. A bunch of aboriginal artists created paintings reflecting the experience. I know I’ve become somewhat boring and repetitious about aboriginal art, but bear with me here. Essentially, aboriginal art is maps. The land is represented symbolically in a variety of ways, but the human interactions and relationships with each other and the land are intertwined with the land itself in the representation. The resulting paintings interweave the land, the history, and the people, creating something transcendent. It is a fascinating way of looking at the world.

The Australian lesson of the day is that possums are not the same as opossums, even if at home we call the opossums possums. Australian possums are cute and soft, making them seem more like squirrels than pests.

Here are pictures. First, the ugly stepsister opossum:

Then the adorable possum:


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