Saturday, 4 October 2014

Borders - Canberra

When I work in Canberra, the inland capital of Australia, I take my breaks by wandering around the central lake. Here, I think about borders.  This time of year, the lake gardens are a mass of colors.

I remember my first time here - decades ago.  

I traveled to Canberra with a family from a dusty town in central New South Wales. I had spent Christmas Day at their home.  The town and all the lands surrounding it were locked in drought.  The mother, a cheerful person, had spent the week introducing me to science fiction and fantasy writers - especially Anne MacCaffrey. I was young, and loved dragons from the moment I first read about them.

But no amount of fantasy nor science fiction had prepared her for the reality of Canberra.  She burst into tears when she stepped onto the lush green grass around Lake Burley Griffin.  The drought had burnt the grass back to the surface of the ground in the parched interior of the state. But here water could be wasted on mere grass - an ostentatious display of wealth.  To her mind, no comparison could be more stark.

When I wander through these places, I still remember her wish to leave this place. To many in the bush, it represents how their hard earned money is scooped up in taxes and thrown away for grubby political gain in city electorates.  

I appreciate the beauty of this place - I can understand how visitors can become lost in the colors and peace of the place.  I understand the economic and social arguments justifying and indeed, necessitating, displays such as this.  But I also see the borders.

Today.  These days the display is funded by the people of Canberra but, beyond, the lush grass around the lake still falls as a toll on the bush.

Peter Quinton
September 2014

No comments: