The sunshine state Queensland mesmerizes you with the mighty rainforest meeting the ocean. It’s so exotic that feels like a movie set. People move at a much slower pace, no wonder they have a special hand gesture for ‘being chill/relaxed’.
When you look behind the veil, a bloody destructive history lies. On the way to the world’s oldest rainforest, Daintree, the road is covered with sugar cane farms on both sides. The railway is built crosstown to carry the harvest to the port. From an industrial perspective they did a great job, however, they became one of the largest exporters of sugar by cutting down the rainforest, destroying wildlife and basically killing the indigenous population. Now, you can pet the exotic animals at the zoo and meet a couple of indigenous people at the Mossman Gorge Centre at a fee. It’s baffling how they are profit from ecotourism after committing genocide on so many levels (plants, animals, people). The most heartbreaking moment was when the indigenous guy was preaching friendship and unity. Aussies have killed 99% of his community, invaded their homes and forced the remaining of their people to assimilate but he has to preach peace and coexistence because he doesn't have any other choice. It's applaudable how well he is coping with his circumstances considering many before him couldn’t.
From the book Homo Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari:
“Avrupalı yerleşimciler yerlileri önce adanın zengin bölgelerinden uzaklaştırdılar, sonra da kalan yabani arazileri bile ele geçirip yerlileri sistematik olarak avlayarak öldürdüler. Hayatta kalan çok az sayıda insan da dini bir toplama kampına doluşturuldu, burada iyi niyetli ama açık görüşlü olmayan misyonerler, onları modern dünyanın anlayışı doğrultusunda eğitmeye çalıştı. Tazmanyalılar okumaya ve yazmaya, Hristiyanlığı öğrenmeye, elbise dikmek ve çiftçilik gibi pek çok “üretken beceri” edinmeye zorlandılar; ama hepsine direndiler. Daha da melankolik bir hâle bürünerek çocuk sahibi olmayı bıraktılar, hayata ilgileri tükendi, nihayet bilim ve ilerlemeye dayalı modern dünyadan tek kaçış yolunu seçtiler: ölüm.”
Throughout our trip, we were very lucky to have marvelous guides/instructors. They made the experience 100% better. Our guide to the Daintree rainforest taught us that tea tree oil is a great mosquito repellent. Indigenous people used to burn tea tree wood chips to protect themselves from mosquitos and other bugs. He also taught us that indigenous people used to use acoustics to communicate within the jungle. They would hit the tree trunk and warn tribe members of dangers approaching. Our rafting instructor, who previously was a plumber, was like a naughty child. He reinforced us to splash water on other boats and laugh our hearts out. The free lesson on worker unions was a bonus. Our diving instructor was determined to make every single one in the group give him a smile. He even made the sea-sick girl laugh a little. I love that type of people who make it their mission to have fun and let everyone enjoy the ride. He was Dutch but he knew some Turkish swear words and he didn’t hesitate to use them recreationally. I don’t think we’ve laughed any harder than this while being cursed =)
The tourist brochures say “it’s an unspoiled tropical paradise” but the Great Barrier Reef would beg to differ. On the way to the reef, they told everyone they will give special body suits which are 100% UV protective so there is no need to put on sunscreen. They emphasized the adverse effects of sunscreen on the reef. Poor guys can’t get enough sun because of the layer of sunscreen covering the sea top which comes off of people’s skin while swimming. Everyone was there to see the coral reef before it died altogether but some people still managed to be dickheads and kept applying sunscreen on the way. It convinced me that even God’s heaven would be spoilt once homo sapiens entered into it.
At this trip, we also learned that after sugar cane and ecotourism Australia's third biggest income source was Opal. We were looking at opal jewelry at a shop where the salesclerk was from South America. She joked with us about how early Aussies go to bed at night. It got me thinking all night... Days are longer and harder on the poorer side of the world. Shopping malls are open until 10 or 11 PM whereas in Sydney late night shopping is only on Thursday and until 9 PM. It's like a joke!
The Australian government rules over a massive land populated by very few people. They have a great social government. The concepts of government housing and unemployment salary are taken to a whole another level. There are government houses with an ocean view for God’s sake! Work-life balance is better than most countries. Government healthcare, education, and transportation services are better than what is available in Turkey in the private sector. I couldn’t help myself but be jealous of the Aussies’ privileges. However, it’s funny how they ignore the fact that European settlers basically invaded this land, massacred its people and has been exploiting its resources for generations. So, I wonder how they can live with themselves as they are denying immigrants from the Middle East or South East Asia entry into their country. The land and the resources are not rightfully theirs, to begin with, and they themselves are immigrants but they have no concept of empathy. It’s just shameful.
Being born in the right place at the right time might grant you privileges but the question is whether you share them with others or be a selfish child. It's about having a conscious and empathizing with the less fortunate ones. Greed is a powerful thing but we must train our minds and educate our kids to find some peace and happiness in this world.