I love nothing more than rainforest. Exploring Australia, then, has been an absolute dream. Australia – such a large country – has so much diversity (and, indeed, biodiversity) in the landscape. Dry dessert, lush rainforest, tropical monsoonal areas, snow covered mountains, dry, gumtree covered bush; Australia is really a nature-lovers paradise. Unfortunately, there are many f*ckers that want to mine, de-forest and generally cause deleterious destruction to Australia’s beautiful environment.
Today, with the coal-mining boom drying up, the Australian landscape – and its people – are left with unique challenges, which are expected to continue long into the future. Many of these challenges are completely unforeseeable: science only takes us so far in understanding Nature’s intricacies. For example, legacy mining – mines abandoned by corporations due to their unprofitability – is a growing problem. Around 50 000 legacy mines exist in Australia, many in rural parts of Western Australia, Queensland, and the Northern Territory. The environment, as well as the communities surrounding mining areas, are left with the burden and costs of damage that is caused (and, in operating mines, damage that continues to be caused). Here is an excellent report written by the Mineral Policy Institute, which provides more information about legacy mining.
The places in which mines are situated are often populated by Indigenous Australians, an already disadvantaged group of people on account of Australia’s colonisation. For instance, in the Northern Territory, it is estimated that approximately 32 per cent of its constituents are Indigenous, compared to 0.4 per cent in Victoria. There are many issues with mining in the Northern Territory; and various examples of situations where its population are left to deal with the catastrophic implications of mining. For instance, the McArthur River Mine in Borolooola has caused substantial problems for the Indigenous community surrounding it – and its complaints are largely unknown to the majority of Australian people.
In other States, too, there are so many ongoing problems with the way in which mining is dealt with – again and again there is a pattern of disenfranchising the Indigenous voice. Queensland, in which the beautiful Springbrook National Park is situated, is – of course – no exception. The environmental issues in Australia are intrinsically connected to the land; sovereignty was never ceded in Australia. Not only does the butchering of the land disproportionately directly implicated Indigenous Australians, it ultimately is a kick in the face given the land has been stolen, and commodified, in the first place.
How is all of this relevant to the Springbrook National Park? Well, in my opinion, everything within the environment (and indeed, politics, power-relations, economics, etc) is intrinsically interconnected. An eco-system cannot be separated from what is within it, nor can it be dislocated from the eco-system that neighbours it. Queensland, as I noted above, is both subjected to environmental and social issues, and does not stand alone from the rest of Australia. This interconnectivity, is why the above is relevant. As a visitor, I think that it is important to be aware of not only the beauty in Australia, but also its unique challenges. It is tricky and confusing, and a difficult space to navigate but I think that it is really important: I am always learning.
The Springbrook National Park area is home to the Yugambeh kinship group, which is constituted of the Wangerriburra, Birinburra, Gugingin, Migunberri, Mununjali, Bollongin, Minjungbal and Kombumerri peoples. As a ‘tourist’ in the area, for me, it is important to recognise the Indigenous owners of the land. Ultimately, I am naive to the extent of the issues faced by the people in this region, and simply, am sorry. I am trying to use my words carefully – because ultimately I am in no position (as an Anglo person with a foreign background) to expound or even speak on such issues. I think that it important, as a tourist, to be aware of not only the beautiful landscape and playground that Nature provides us in Australia, but also its dark side. With that in mind, I explored Springbrook National Park and truly appreciated its beauty.
There are various walking tracks at Springbrook National Park, and when we visited, we opted for a longer one: we took the Warrie Circuit, which offers many water falls including the impressive Ngarri-dhum falls. We saw lots of snakes, sitting snug against rocks, and were treated to running water and lush greenery. The photos say it all: