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Power and Prejudice

Beata works as a qualified primary school teacher, a councillor for drug and alcohol addiction and a farm caretaker for organic olive grow.

"Perhaps they were taken in by the local Nanda people to become the first European inhabitants of Australia?"

An old fragile tall man turned me while we were both reading an information board at the mouth of Wittecarra creek.

An old fragile tall man turned me while we were both reading an information board at the mouth of Wittecarra creek.

"Do you mean two young Dutch mutineers on Batavia that were marooned here?"

I looked into serious inquisitive eyes of an old man who seemed to me somehow familiar while I was pointing at the historical recount of one of many Dutch shipwrecks dotting these treacherous Southern wild shores.

He nodded: "Well it said here, under Dutch Law all the mutineers but two youngest ones were tried and hanged on route back to the East Indies. But there is no record of their survival, no sighting of two bedraggled, sunburnt men signalling passing ships."

I chuckled: "Considering it happened over four hundred years ago we will probably never know exactly what happened to them but they say there are few Indigenous families in area with light skin and hair and this Batavia coast is famous for its ingenuity and cheekiness so who knows?"

"Look at the creek now all dried out, let us cool off next to ocean if you have time."

I nodded following him up the dune when he turned and outstretched his hand to me: "By the way, my name is Paul."

I nodded following him up the dune when he turned and outstretched his hand to me: "By the way, my name is Paul."

"Nice to meet you Paul, my boys are fishing from the shore, not far from here."

I smiled at him: "Do you like fishing?" He shook his head while we kept walking on the soft sand next to calm now Indian Ocean. Paul suddenly took out his mobile and played a beautiful classical music piece: "I am sponsoring one very talented Australian composer from this area, listen to this and he is just in his twenties like Mahler was when he got famous."

"I heard his Earth Song he has written to be played after his death here in the Perth Concert Hall in 1994 when we migrated here from the Eastern Europe before I listened mostly to Dvorak and Smetana."

Paul sighed: "I am happy Australia was good to you, do you know the basic income for an average Australian grew 34 percent from that time while in the USA we all look up to it stayed the same, shame really the upper ten percent of the Americans holds all the profit in their hands to this day."

I nodded and pointed at the distance on two tiny fishing figures high on the rocks: "That is them, born one year after we arrived." Then I turned to look at the old man: "Isn't really so different here? I mean look at our Indigenous population."

"The biggest injustice towards the Indigenous people was dispossession."

He stopped suddenly wiping his brow: "The  Native Title of 1994 was formed to return the land to the rightful owner but..."

He stopped suddenly wiping his brow: "The Native Title of 1994 was formed to return the land to the rightful owner but..."

"I heard they needed to prove the continuous ownership of the land all the way to 1780?"

I shook my head: "One of my fellow teachers told me, she is from Noongar country with no written language just oral history, how her family can prove the ownership of a land they were forcefully taken from to be placed into forced labor camps, prisons and orphanages?"

Paul sighed: "You know the native title, just like the carbon tax or the inhuman treatment of boat people have become a political suicide for any leader of today here."

I nodded and he continued: "Look at your WA Fortescue Metals, the owner went to Canberra to argue for the carbon tax with then prime minister Abbott: "It takes me about tenth of my profit to make a ton of iron ore and I feel some of it should trickle back to Australian people. In recent climate I have to resign to philanthropy just American billionaires do."

"I did not like Abbott at all he played racism card way too much." I sighed and Paul waved his hand: "There was no other prime minister shallow and empty like him who came to power but threatening the establishment with his: 'Vote me in or I wreck the place.'

We walked up the rock escarpment and Paul put his backpack down.

"Come and sit here for a while, usually kangaroos and emus come to feed here."

"Come and sit here for a while, usually kangaroos and emus come to feed here."

"I can see his boat, my husband is returning from his fishing trip." I shouted excitedly and waved.

Paul turned to notice an Indigenous woman in a shade of a bush with a kangaroo next to her feet.

Paul turned to notice an Indigenous woman in a shade of a bush with a kangaroo next to her feet.

"You are now standing on Nanda land, welcome." Her young round face opened in warm smile.

As far as your eyes can see to the North, South, East and West you are admiring the home of my ancestors.

As far as your eyes can see to the North, South, East and West you are admiring the home of my ancestors.

Paul got hold of his heart suddenly and his breath shortened: "Are you ok?" I asked alarmed.

The young woman named 'Wandja' stood up and helped him up: "My cottage is just around the corner."

The young woman named 'Wandja' stood up and helped him up: "My cottage is just around the corner."

Paul cheered up after a cup of strong bush tea and admired all the rescued animals Wandja kept.

"My heart breaks to see them left next to road injured with tourists zooming off leaving them to die." She nodded feeding a little joey hanging in a pouch on the wall.

"My heart breaks to see them left next to road injured with tourists zooming off leaving them to die." She nodded feeding a little joey hanging in a pouch on the wall.

"Where do you come from?" She turned to me suddenly then smiled shyly: "Your accent."

I took a little print of the oil portrait of my great grandmother I kept as keepsake: "From far away place like this."

I took a little print of the oil portrait of my great grandmother I kept as keepsake: "From far away place like this."

"It was the same with the early European settlers," Wandja nodded looking at the photo.

"They settled here but their mind stayed back behind in Europe." She looked up at Paul who scratched his head: "I agree with you girl, for over two hundreds years we bow to the queen over the ocean and wave the union Jack flag, now which other self respected country does that?"

Then Paul looked at me: "You know when Gorbachev ended the cold war and dismantled the Soviet Union, the USA had a chance to do something good like they have done at the end of the world war two instead they wasted these past twenty years squabbling little influence they had left."

I looked at him surprised: "After 2011 they were busy fighting terrorists no?" And Paul chuckled: "I was in Canberra still at that time knowing in reality George Bush's administration had an eye on Iraq to make it the USA owned and controlled strategic centre in the Middle East which did not work for them so well."

"It is always a war for domination isn't it with you lot?" Wandja shook her head serving us generous plates of tomato pasta flavoured with bush spices.


"Let me take you to the place I value," Wandja said suddenly and we hopped in her old truck.

After an half hour drive on dusty bumpy road she stopped and spread her arms.

After an half hour drive on dusty bumpy road she stopped and spread her arms.

"Before you lies our lifeline the Murchison River, the heart of Nanda country," she bowed her head.

Our Dreamtime water serpent the great Beemarra created along with the many fresh water springs and rock pools.

Our Dreamtime water serpent the great Beemarra created along with the many fresh water springs and rock pools.

"This secret place holds plentiful life within and around." She said quietly.

"Breathe in the natural beauty that surround you, behold that distinct feeling of serenity.

"Breathe in the natural beauty that surround you, behold that distinct feeling of serenity.

Suddenly Wandja turned and let us to information boards along the river bank.

She pointed on the first one: "This is my grandmother's story, she was taken away from her family by force."

She pointed on the first one: "This is my grandmother's story, she was taken away from her family by force."

She pointed on the second board wiping her tears: "This is my grandfather story, he was taken a prisoner."

She sighed: "He did not commit any crime other than someone wanted to possess his land."

She sighed: "He did not commit any crime other than someone wanted to possess his land."

"And this is my story." She said proudly pointing on the last board: "Your government finally gave us back a little piece of our land."

She smiled broadly: "We are the lucky ones only few native people got something back and now we share it with you all."

She smiled broadly: "We are the lucky ones only few native people got something back and now we share it with you all."

"We only ask for one thing," she looked at us leading us back to car through bush.

"Walk gently on our land we share now, where our ancestors once walked and survived for over 60,000 years. Enjoy what Nanda country has to offer but please remember to take care of Nanda country and respect it." She looked back at Paul struggling up the rocky path and she offered him a shoulder to lean on: "Wandja I just wished I visited you back when I was still in Canberra maybe I would push for that Native title to get through little bit more."

She patted his arm gently: " You can still do your bit as any citizen of this beautiful continent we call home can." And he looked at her confused: "I am out of power now but you know I always believed just like Bob Hawke before me or Tim Fisher that the most sacred duty of any leader is to fight prejudice."

I stopped and sighed: "Well Howard took gin out of the bottle and used prejudice to separate people who can get in and who can't. I never understood why he was allowed to treat a couple hundred of boat people like terrorists invading in hordes our shores when thousands of unregistered refugees flew in monthly overstaying their tourist visa?"

Paul shrugged: "Boat people are easy target to be victimised just like Indigenous people are, just look around how the racist card is used in politics more not less and it is becoming a winning card for any leader of today."


When Paul sat down on a rock for a bit to rest. I took Wandja aside: "Do you know who he is?"

She nodded: "Paul Keating our prime minister from 1994 to 1996, but I bet he did not know about Nanda people until now and he should represent us all no?"

She nodded: "Paul Keating our prime minister from 1994 to 1996, but I bet he did not know about Nanda people until now and he should represent us all no?"

Comments

Beata Stasak (author) from Western Australia on January 22, 2021:

Thank you my fellow hubbers, in few days we have Australia Day here, it makes me think about many things and when it happened in our country exactly when politicians started to use 'prejudice card' so freely and carelessly...somehow Paul Keating was the last one in the line of politicians after who did not to use it to gain power...

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on January 22, 2021:

This was very interesting. I learned much, Hopefully the world will change and love every race and enjoy the many differences. The photos were beautiful!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on January 22, 2021:

You have beautifully told this story about the indigenous people who survived to get back a small fraction of their land in Australia. I enjoyed your photos as well.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on January 22, 2021:

What a great piece of writing, Beata. Thank you so much for sharing. As the story went on I suspected it as Paul Keating. Being an Aussie I can relate. There is still a long way to go in this country. Beautiful photos.

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