Facsimile Whale on Minjerribah

It is to be displayed in an 11 million dollar timber and glass cabinet on top of a grassy lightly timbered headland overlooking the coral sea forever tormented by humans who ogle, point and stare while his kin are free to roam north and south at will , with the seasons. – Mark Balczun in ‘A Spirit Released‘.

The innocuous looking sign (below) announces the dominance of tourism over sovereignty and ecology on Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island). At least in the thinking of state government and their sage economic advisors.

I heard a local say “Why isn’t the sign bigger? We should also have a huge rainbow serpent over here … ” pointing to a place where day trippers were consuming their Gelatis. The boss of the Indigenous rangers told his men not to show the sign yet keeping it facedown as if to acknowledge the controversy the building of the fake whale house on the hill behind had aroused.

Sign declaring aboriginal land at beginning of the gorge walk on Minjerribah

I say fake because a 3D printed facsimile whale is to be erected under a large roof on the heritage protected Mulumba (Point Lookout) where you can see real whales every minute during the season. A microphone is to be placed on the ocean floor to allow tourists to hear the whale’s songs. However, if you listen carefully from the point (only a few metres away) you can hear the whales singing and blowing.

The local business community must be enthralled with the economic thinking behind Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation (QYAC). The state government website announces their intention for paid gorge walks (starting at $89) conducted by aboriginal guides. Is this a real job? Will more gelatis be sold? More cups of coffee?

“Our guided gorge walk takes place in Mulumba (Point Lookout), a sacred Aboriginal landmark which tells the ancient stories of how the Aboriginal People have survived and thrived on Minjerribah land for at least 25,000 years.

Led by your Quandamooka guide, the sacred, untold stories will come alive. This tour includes a guided walk through one of Australia’s most iconic outlooks over the ocean where you will learn the significance of Mulumba to the Aboriginal people.”

Meanwhile above the gorge walk you can see a distressed Koala hyperventilating in a cotton tree. Koalas can’t eat its leaves, its digestion is only suitable for Eucalypts and Casurinas. Tourists are heard to gasp at the koalas, holed up in the tree …. the endangered koala becomes even more alarmed. Sometimes it is best just to leave country alone.

Our well-being and connection to country is handed to us by our ancestors. We maintain protect and nurture culture and our country for future generations.

Perhaps Oodgeroo sums it up best: “We are nature and the past, all the old ways / Gone now and scattered,” she wrote. “The bora ring is gone. The corroboree is gone. And we are going.”

Ian Curr
29 Aug 2020