…from the quill of Antisthenes the Younger
There are myths and then there are politically correct myths. For that reason I prefer to read or even re-read old books, not the modern, tainted ones.
Bill Harney in his To Ayers Rock and Beyond (first published in 1963) does not create myths about an omniscient noble savage living sustainably in perfect harmony with all creatures, trees and stones around him, so de riguer for our academics.
William Edward Harney (1895– 1962) was a self-educated Australian writer. From the age of twelve he was working as a drover and boundary-rider in western Queensland. In 1915 he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and served during the First World War on the Western Front. After the war he worked at various jobs, mainly in the Northern Territory. Between 1940 and 1947 Bill Harney was employed as the Australian government’s Native Affairs Branch Protector of Aborigines and as a patrol officer. Subsequently he became the first Ranger for the Ayers Rock-Mount Olga National Park. His second wife was an Aborigine, also not an academic.
That first day I went around the Rock with Len made me determined to ferret out the complete story of this great stone. So a few days later, when Len Tuit had returned with his party and I was alone with the desert aborigines, I was naturally asking them about the mythology of the area. Imagine my surprise when they informed me that they were as new to this land as myself. ‘Our country that way’, pointing to the west.
Len also had tanks and drums of water around the camp, enough to tide us over for some time. The drying water was nevertheless a sign that unless permanent water was obtained around the Rock the tourist resorts could never increase.
‘Pity we couldn’t get some of those shrewd guys of the moving pictures that always find water in the desert’, said Len. ‘They never miss.’
Never miss! So much flap-doodle against reality. Looking down on the aborigines resting on the dry sand after futile work I could not but smile at one of them who had featured in one of these scenes. To Muturu this was the real thing. ‘Before just nothing,’ he laughingly told me as I quizzed him about the scene – setting up of the camera for the best shot that would reveal the bush at its worst; the building up of the ‘set’ (a hole in the ground for the native well, a four-gallon tin full of water within it to be the supply). Then the Director called out ‘Camera’, and the scene begins. The primitive aborigine seeking water by the signs on the ground, the hero and heroine staggering behind, the scooping out of that life-saving fluid as all bless the rain-gods, and the wonderful bushcraft of the aborigines.
‘Not like that picture now’? I called out gaily; as I did so the ex-actor, bit player looked up and answered, ‘Longa picture always get water, here nothing.’
Water was found short time later at that spot by drilling.
As anybody who ever talked to more than one native knows, the stories change. Bill Harney was aware of that, and mentioned it more than once in his writing. He was very sympathetic to Aboriginals, far more than the current ‘bleeding heart’ parasites are. The semi-aboriginal people around the Ayers Rock today are not these who were there at Bill’s time, and have were little in common with the people who were there, or were passing by, in earlier times. The specific myths of sacred places around the Rock may be fabricated or exaggerated, though there is sufficient similarity with myths of Africa and Polynesia to put an anthropologist’s mind at ease.
At the same year as To Ayers Rock and Beyond was published, a book by Charles P. Mounford Ayers Rock went to print. The modern, the land rights aborigines apparently don’t like either author and are especially scathing about Theodor George Henry Strehlow (6 June 1908–3 October 1978), who published Aranda Traditions (1947). This work had been assembled in 1934 but Strehlow delayed publication until all his informants were dead. Strehlow, surprisingly, got a museum in Alice named after him. The politically correct academic and governmental Mafiosi, living on dishonesty, prefer the post-Mabo versions.
By the way, Wikipedia lists only the following books by Bill:
1943 – Taboo
1949 – Songs of the Songmen
1957 – Life Among the Aborigines (with A.P. Elkin)
1958 – Content to Lie in the Sun
1960 – Bill Harney’s Cook Book (with Patricia Thompson)
1961 – Grief, Gaiety and Aborigines
1963 – The Shady Tree (completed by Douglas Lockwood)
1983 – Bill Harney’s War. Currey O”Neil: Melbourne.
1990 – A Bushman’s Life (edited by Douglas and Ruth Lockwood)
In my Harney’s books, the following, additional three are listed:
North of 23°
Tales from the Aborigines
And the 1963 – To Ayers Rock and Beyond Wikipedia also missed. No need to get suspicious – the missing ones are no more politically incorrect than the others.