Nature Cries Out
The warmth of the rising sun begins to lift the veil of mist from this holy forest sanctuary in Kariong, NSW. Here in the heart of this meeting place, is a special tree called “Grandmother Tree”. I feel she is under stress and crying out. It seems like she is shedding tears of sap to warn of impending danger to this sacred area. This ancient tree, that was here before any white settlers, has seen generations of destruction by overzealous developers.
The local Darkinjung Aboriginal Land Council has submitted a planning proposal to rezone land just 300 metres above this location. Darkinjung Chairperson, Matthew West, said the planning proposal would see 7.1 hectares of the 13.2-hectaresite on Woy Woy Road zoned E2 – environmental conservation – making it an untouchable green space to protect the bush and resident wildlife. “The proposal would preserve more than half the site in its pristine ecological state for people to cherish and for animals and plants to flourish for generations to come,” Mr West said. “We seek to develop the remainder of the site for residential housing”.
So the Land Council acknowledges the pristine state of this area, but wants to sell off almost half for housing development. What are they thinking? All that added humanity, with its pets and traffic, will hardly make this “an untouchable green space to protect the bush and resident wildlife”. And worse, the proposed development area is part of the water catchment system supplying water to the sacred land where “Grandmother Tree” stands.
It is disputed whether the Darkinjung Land Council actually speaks on behalf of the custodians of this area. I was taken there by Paul Craig who is a proud indigenous Guringai man, and has proof of his connection to this area. He said that the Darkinjung Land Council does not have legitimate rights to sell off the land of his Guringai people. I refuse to get into a divisive argument around ownership, as that has been a trick of Land Councils, mining corporations and developers for years. I believe this is the way you can tell a true custodian: they protect the land for future generations. As a respected Aboriginal Elder taught me, “We don’t own the land; it owns us. We are caretakers for future generations.”
Kariong is believed to mean meeting place in the local Aboriginal language. Other early residents were told the name meant “place of the cold winds”. So here is a meeting place where suburbia is overwhelming nature. This is a cold wind of change, aided by government endorsed custodians, who –judging by their actions – seem to have lost their way.
Profits from the sale of this print will go to help protect this amazing sacred area.
I urge you to join the fight to stop this development of pristine forest as this is only the tip of the iceberg of land grabs for development under this method. Come visit “Grandmother Tree”. Give her a hug and feel for yourself the cry of nature.