Chores out of the way and Sue finally awake, we returned to town looking to double our experience yesterday at Miss Barrett’s Café but it was not to be, as it was closed in order for staff to attend a funeral. This meant we took an extended drive around Wilcannia and I must admit, it made the conflict I was feeling yesterday even more pronounced.
There are so many problems to be overcome here.
In the main street, former businesses lie broken and deserted, their windows long ago smashed despite the iron bars that were intended as protection. Corrugated iron has replaced many of them but where visual passage is possible, the walls and roofs are often caving in, with piles of bricks where customers once would have been. Yet over the road, sandstone buildings built by white fellas 140 years ago are still in pristine condition and occupied by the council, Australia Post, the police, the courts.
Driving around town, thoroughly decent country houses stand beside hovels. Everywhere, the contradiction.
I’m not pointing the finger at the aboriginal community or Wilcannia or the residual white community. I don’t know what the answer is. It’s clear, people are trying but negative media isn’t going to help. I read today that the BBC has apologised for the biased presentation it aired: apologised and placed the production company who supplied it under scrutiny for several other projects it was set to supply.
However, it’s not going to be fixed by ignoring the elephant in the room either.
I’ll be leaving Wilcannia tomorrow and I’ll be a little better informed but still with no idea what
might repair the damage. There is hope. There is resilience. It’s just that it is up against it.
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Campfire circle again this evening with a meal of brazed steak and vegetables made by our host Gordon and shared among the punters. Lots of sharing about places and roads travelled. We left when it got around to bragging.