Deconstructing the Royal National Park – some points for consideration.
Some words by way of introduction.
We deconstruct the Royal National Park in order to come closer to appreciating that some area as ‘country’.
That is, we seek to remove the collective spell which has been cast over our minds by the workings of past popular and official Western/European scripts.
As some writers about such matters note, ‘national parks’ are not static conceptual entities and are part of an ongoing and dynamic process. Where once the dominant rationale for such reserves may have been on recreation, it was subsequently replaced by concerns for conservation (as conceived by Western/European minds).
The dominance of conservation has now reached its own use-by date, and some people begin to turn our minds to these reserves as places for reconciliation with Australia’s First Peoples.
In the first instance, and in a spirit of cultural partnership, by restoring recognition of their stake in these lands. This recognition is long overdue. We must include a range of indigenous requirements ranging from recognition of indigenous sovereignty to rights to improve their financial position vis-a-vis non-indigenous Australians.
In the second instance, by seeking to encourage a process which will restore indigenous land and life management practices back into ecosystems to produce well-managed country – a well-tempered cosmos.
In the process, it is hoped that non-indigenous peoples will also be able to gain an understanding of country indigenous to Australia, and move beyond European preconceptions of ‘nature’.
Such a shift, from regarding national parks as places of nature conservation to indigenous living country, is part of a healing movement which factors in social considerations.
Healing the Royal National Park requires that we first dissolve the spell over our minds which, at present, systematically empowers and enables a state bureaucratic definition of life as it systematically excludes, marginalises, silences and suppresses what other voices have to say about country.
And some of these voices have been representing country long before English arrived here in 1788. These country-voices have never gone away.
We non-indigenous peoples need to fashion new ears to better hear those vocies. This promises to be a transformative experience.