Outback Mythologies - Facing The Dust*
« Terra nullius, a land without masters. These words and all the stories about Captain Cook soothed his seasickness. He focused only on his proclamations that sounded like crops of promises. This forced migration was a new departure for him. He saw himself as a pioneer in pursuit of new lands, intrigued to meet the so-called aborigines. He worked on an uncle's farm and knew how to maneuver the animals. He did not doubt a single second of his success. There was talk of an unlimited territory. »
The island-continent is for the most part composed of an empty space: the Outback. For more than two centuries, men have dreamed of this territory and are confronting it in an attempt to build a national identity. In the midst of dust and dirty heat, a whole line of Australians plunges into the great outdoors. The void of the desert resounds in them like so many libertarian songs, like so many realistic fantasies. Plant his boots in the dust, appreciate with the eyes the beasts moving on the horizon, the hat screwed on both sides of his skull wounded by the heat. To become one with his mount and to pace an infinite and silent land, far from all authority, creating his own responsibilities. The bushman makes his life a permanent challenge that he alone can take up. In 200 years, the practices have changed little, the work remained marked with the iron by its roughness. The Australian cowboy now uses the tools offered by modernity. Mustering or cattle parks, commonly called stockyards, enable him to control births and prepare animals for long journeys. The state of Queensland is the theater of a daily struggle, that of livestock farmers facing the dryness of their soil. Precipitation has never been so weak and the logics of survival are organized. This great mower blows its ocher dust on the material and immaterial goods of the stockmen.
* « Facing The Dust » is the first chapter of a project tittled « Outback Mythlogies » consisting of six chapters all taking place in the so-called Australian Outback. Two chapters out of six have been made so far.