Aboriginal history is haptic across time. It reaches out to us and we can reach out and touch it and be touched by it in turn. Wounds and scars and survival and transcendence.
In Aboriginal thought, a place is both animate and sentient, and it holds all things that have ever happened there and that will ever happen there, simultaneously: past, present, future. Everywhen, W.E.H. Stanner’s perfect neologism. And every thing in the natural world is animate and sentient. And the earth and the firmanent are sacred.
This then is the starting point for my psychogeography of the place where I live, this Aboriginal view of place and time, of life and consciousness, of connection and relationship.
Psychogeography, like most creations of Western thought across the globe, is a creature of the urban view of the world. The urban is the unthinking, default setting for all human dominant culture. This privileging of the metropolis overlays the other unremitting default settings of that culture: white dominance and male privilege; the Romulus and Remus of the eternal city.
Here, living beyond even village life, I have a great vantage point to ponder the tyranny of the urban, and of the white. I live in a blind spot from which I can observe unseen…
For the purposes of my blog, however, what interests me most is the psychogeography of this place, from the long period of continuous Aboriginal occupation to the short catastrophic period of white ‘settlement’ to the establishment of rural ‘property’ to the building up and decline of the village to the Upper Hunter as it is today to my personal experience of daily life here, with all the traces in the landscape and all the stories in the imagination. Everything around me vibrates with this stuff. It is palpable. It’s overpowering if you give it free rein. So that is what I do.
I don’t care that urban psychogeography focuses on ‘play’, that is the curse of the city, the need and desire for constant diversion and stimulation and titillation. Rural psychogeography is not playful. It is an emotional confrontation with the hidden and the half hidden, the colonial and the personal, the extant and the extinct. There is no rural dérive app for your phone, there is not even coverage for your phone. It is actually too dangerous to ‘drift’ through the bush. I don’t care that no one ever thinks of psychogeography outside the context of the urban. That doesn’t surprise me. Here’s to life lived under the radar and outside the panopticon!
So what else do I know about Gundy?
You can see Mount Yengo from Lagoon Mountain. The creator spirit Baiame flattened the top of this peak when he stepped off the earth and returned to the spirit realm in the sky.
Old hand-forged iron hinges discarded; tall gate posts with tie-wire lying on the ground, forever from now on; rusty old gate re-hung; near the Page River; adjoining my neighbour’s paddock that is named Penny Royal; looking towards Willis’s Hill with its Aboriginal ghosts and its Travelling Stock Reserve; hundreds of metres only to the place where an Aboriginal bora ground was in the next valley; me and my dog Ellie walking this boundary fence line many times to get to the top of the hill; devil’s rope pear needing to be eradicated but if I leave it long enough the biological weapon, the insect cochineal, might do the job for me; good signs of that happening are visible now…