reflections on finding our land

The last piece I shared about the expedition to find our land feels like it was about a journey that occurred lifetimes ago. All bright eyed and bushy tailed ready for our voyage to Tasmania. Heart set on a foreign land, eager to place our roots down into fertile soil.

What a truly wild and magnificent part of the world that heart shaped island is. Lakes created by man, ancient forests created by Gods. Fields filled with monocultures, the roadside littered with the bodies of mammals and marsupials who were not agile enough to dodge racing metal bodies. Furry sacrifices to an age of speed and steel. In the summer heat the smell of death is extra putrid.

We lived by rivers and drove to many different parcels of land in the North West of the island. One almost called us to it, begging for us to inhabit this isolated place, bordered by wilderness and plantations. Names signed on a contract, we struggled to get approval for a dwelling and uncovered layers of the reality we would have to be in if we chose to call this place home. The Tasmanian government requires you to prove that you are doing primary industry in order to build and live on rural parcels. To meet their standards we would have to be dedicated industrial berry farmers. Investing money we do not have into a form of land management we find perverse. The small-scale natural farming and gardening our values call us to is unwelcome.

The bureaucratic hurdles and oppressive policies one has to swim against to live sustainably, naturally and self-sufficiently is simply evil. This is the accurate word for it. Evil. It makes it impossible for people to live autonomously without dependence or implication in an industrial, military system. It’s not always going to be this way but it is now. Our hope is that our grandchildren will have a much easier experience of the society they will be born into. An active hope in the sense that we know it’s our responsibility to engage and lobby for the reforms we need. And to embody and live another way. Regardless, our time in Tasmania was blessed with natural wonder and our literacy of the legislative system and planning laws that mold the way we can live, deepened. Useful if still depressing.

Many miles were covered and we arrived back on the mainland with a clearer sense of where we belong. Whilst the rich soil and high rainfall of North-West Tasmania would sustain us with abundant food and water security- the social element needed to sustain our spirits was lacking. We missed our families and the familiarity of the land we’d both grown up in. A short trip up to the mid-north coast, with it’s opulent green rolling hills and waterfalls, affirmed that the psyche does indeed build a connection to specific places and that settling in unfamiliar landscapes can be rather unsettling. Even if they are bewitching in their expression of Natures sublimity. Of course, we adapt and build new relationships with experiences through time, if that’s what we want or if it’s what we have to do, But existing intimacy with a territory often calls people back to it.

The last few weeks have been spent traversing the Hume highway, exploring the Southern Tablelands, a dry and overgrazed part of NSW. Terrifyingly beautiful in its starkness and vastness. Some days the air is so thick and hot, it is impossible to think clear thoughts. Shattered and cracked dams look like craters on the moon, evoking anxiety and a cavernous worry that this land is mutilated beyond healing. Of course, this is not true for Natures resilience and self-healing capacities are enormous but she needs our help, our tenderness and our listening. Still, we would be willing to live there and bring life back to a dying block but with the budget we simply cannot afford somewhere in the region.

The Snowy Mountains in NSW is where we have decided to settle for now. A five hectare block in Batlow, has called us to it and we have gratefully accepted the opportunity to live in this alluring place. We’re still waiting to sign the contract and formalise it but it’s a reality that is tangible. Slowly we are getting closer to starting a garden, building a home, reconnecting with the nature-orientated lifestyle of our ancestors. What a ridiculously privileged place I found myself in. It’s not fair that this opportunity, to live securely on land which one can steward, is so rare. I feel deeply saddened when I look around at what is happening in our society and in our world, there is much that is not right.

I’m going to use the opportunity being given to me to do everything I can, every day of my life, to make the world a fairer, happier, more beautiful place. Through embodying a sustainable, wild, joyous lifestyle which can be replicated by more and more people. Environmental education and eco-therapy is a big part of this dreaming and I am nurturing the skills needed within myself to offer these gifts of my soul to the world. Patiently with mettle.

As I write these words the presence of a strong feeling washes over me. It is the spirit of Beauty reminding me of how much there is in the world to be grateful for. Through all the moments that test my dedication and leave me feeling for a time small and frail, the Beauty of the world picks me up. Always. Our hearts know what they want. Mine often speaks to me in clear dreams. The night before we were going to look at the land in Batlow, we camped in a quiet spot and I had vivid dreams of landscapes that were vibrant and felt like home. I awoke with a deep knowing,- today something significant would happen, a soulful milestone was approaching. And indeed it has and it’s made itself known. Etched into the contours of the land we shall live on, shimmering on the surface of the dam, whispering to us through the old oak trees which line the road. We are children of the earth, returning home.

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