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.
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.
Our story in Australia begins more than 40,000 years ago, as our Indigenous Brothers and Sisters sustainably farmed the earth we walk on, the water that flows around us and the air we breathe. They used sophisticated farming practices to sustain and work with the environment in order to feed our families, our communities and our culture. But the knowledge of these shared, sustainable practices have faded away into the minds of our Indigenous Elders, as we instead embolden competition over land for property development, Western agricultural practices and mining.
After assisting one of our heifers deliver her first calf, my Dad and I sat under a tree on our farm to discuss climate change. It was the first time he had openly discussed the issue on camera and was a little hesitant as to what Al Gore and the community would think of his gradual change of heart on the issue. But really Dad, like all Australian farmers, had been adapting well to climate change for some time.
Almost 10 years ago, I recall sitting at my Great Grandmother’s dining table at the farm with my Grandpa and my Dad. To be honest, things were pretty rough… The drought was settling in over the once flourishing paddocks and there became a time several years before that prevented this gorgeous little farm from providing our family with all the opportunity they could have dreamed about. There became a time, when despite my Great Grandparent’s enthusiasm for raising their children on the land, that it was no longer feasible to do so.