With 50 years since 1967 on my mind, my thoughts are drawn to reconciliation. To me, reconciliation isn't the sympathetic understanding of strangers. It's the empathetic caring of friends. Friends who take the time to understand our past and how it shapes our present.
Under the brim of an akubra hat, lies a story burning to be told.
It's whisper lies in the sweat stained brow, it's travelled ground on an old pulled plough.
And within this pair of old blue jeans, lies grease stains off some big machines.
There's a story found in these weathered hands, out west to the red dirt sands.
The tales from the shearing shed, the cattle that my dad has led,
our farmers have a yarn to share.
Across 7 creek crossings, down an old dirt road, lies my Great Grandparent's old farm. I remember parts of it from when I was a child- taking my first photo and driving out on the front of the tractor with my family to the mountains. But most of all I remember the love my family had for each other, the land and the animals.
Having just spent the day away from phone coverage and the anchoring weight that the modern world now provides in a single device, my mind was filled with the thoughts of reflection and hope for the future. I had spent the hours before, chipping away with an axe and knife at two pieces of wood to turn them into a small spoon and grain scoop (courtesy of a Spoonsmith workshop). As I set in for the drive, I tuned in to some podcasts and slowly made my way over the winding mountain roads and through the small country towns.
During the course of the Christmas break, whispers trickled around my home town of Nabiac that the Council had closed the saleyards, without mention to the local community. As the sale, which last month saw 700 head sold, seemed to inevitably been closed, the words of Troy Cassar-Daley beat through the land and hummed through the trees- "I hate to see a small town die".
Several weeks ago, I had the privilege of joining an incredible, all Indigenous panel at the Indigenous Land Corporation's (ILC) Senior Managers Conference. Tasked with reflecting on the organisations successes over the last 20 years and projecting what the future may hold, the conference was a time to pause and to dream.
After the successes of the Millennium Development Goals, 150 of the world's leaders came together to dream of a better world and create a road map to get there. The result is the Sustainable Development Goals, a 17 point checklist for achieving a better world. Within each of the 17 goals lie targets, of which there are 169, for achieving the larger objectives.
As the world closed in and became connected through radio and television, and later the internet, society became attracted to the greats of the world. There were those who raced and pushed the human mind beyond the confines of the Earth, while others used words and public demonstration to create equality, end racism and stop the war. They became the trusted voices, identifiable leaders who guided the world to the present state and dreamed for the next generations.
Our Australian agricultural story begins more than 40,000 years ago, with our Indigenous Brothers and Sisters sustainably farming the earth we walk on and the water that flows around us. They used sophisticated farming practices to sustain the environment in order to feed our families, our communities and our culture. They did this successfully across dramatic climate change events, including ice ages. As we approach our anthropogenic climate change challenges, we have much to learn from the ancestors of this place.
I was introduced to the world of environmental advocacy and activism just 2 years ago, an invitation to be part of the WWF Earth Hour Cookbook which has led me on the most incredible journey to share my story and the wider Indigenous and agricultural storylines to create unprecedented change in the way we work together and are publicly perceived.
As an industry, we must work together and continually discuss these changes. We must meet consumers where they stand and not dictate to them that they must purchase the items we produce. Rather, we must respectfully listen to them and work with them to produce the food that meets their ethical requirements, while being cheap, affordable and nutritious.
A few hours south west of Darwin, sealed roads slowly turn to straight red dirt paths, wild horses and brahman cattle roam and feed on roadside fodder and the trees and blue sky span deeper than the eye can see. We were heading to the town of Wadeye, a remote Aboriginal community settled by the Catholic Church in 1935.
In the later months of 2014, I found myself burnt out, depressed, broke and regretting the rash decision I had made to move away from my family farm and start work. It was just moments after that first intoxicating taste of achievement and publicity, yet the media interviews and peer support helped drive reckless sleeping behaviours and further instability. My mind and soul became addicted to externally promoted success.