Cranky Lizard travelled, as part of regular life, to Western Queensland on several occasions in the past few months. While there, and interacting with local business people, farmers, professional medical people, police and ambulance officers, Cranky Lizard experienced a shattering glimpse of the obvious.
These bloody people were tough-minded, knew what difficulties they faced, understood what needed to be done to deal with the obstacles of everyday life in rural Australia – and just got on with doing it!
To keep informed of current affairs Cranky Lizard maintains access to the media mainstream of Australia, not so much social media, but certainly mainstream printed and electronic media ; and one morning, over coffee in a delightful place by a river,and reflecting on what was happening across the Nation, the contrast between what Australians were doing in our major cities, in our suburban regions and what Australians were doing in rural areas stood out, like a dunny in the desert.
Inner-city dwellers, according to Cranky Lizard’s observations were preoccupied with matters of human rights, identity politics, social media trends, interactive social behaviour and political activism. The majority of inner-city dwellers in Australia are young people. Much energy surrounds their activities, and they embrace causes, political, social and personal with great enthusiasm and commitment. Comparatively speaking, they have higher disposable incomes than many of their contemporaries, and this funds their lifestyle as inner-city living is expensive. They are genuinely happy with their lives and are not interested in rural matters or the agricultural economy unless one of their causes demands it. Their skills and abilities keep the wheels of Government, statutory bodies, NGO’s, and major corporations turning. In their way, they make a substantial contribution to Australia’s economy. Inner-city life proceeds at a frantic pace -timetables and deadlines dictate events and behaviour – this is neither good nor bad, it is just what it is!
Sprawled around our major cities are our suburban regions where most Australians live. Here life is very, very different from living in the inner city. Here are the barbecues, here are the great public schools, here are the mortgages and the attached debt, income and employment ratios — no political causes resonant more loudly here than the pressure of the hip pocket. Power prices, fuel prices, food prices and clothing prices dominate the daily lives of Australian suburban dwellers. Cost of living issues dominate. Small business enterprises create opportunity, employment, angst and heartbreak; this is indeed the ‘land of having a go.’ Symbiotically attached to our cities, the suburban regions proliferate between The Great Dividing Range and the oceans lapping at our shores. Daily life, weekly life indeed monthly life is a juggle of income versus costs, sacrifices are made pragmatically and the weekends are times when a few beers, a few glasses of wine and the barbecue ease the pressures of the week. Suburban Australians work hard and with purpose; they seek opportunity for themselves and their children. Those opportunities are a decent education for their children; a form of financial stability which in turn brings a stable home life, the freedom to worship their God if they wish to do so and the ability to enjoy the marvellous natural gifts with which Australia is generously endowed – splendid beaches, intriguing bushland close to suburbs where family camping is supposed to be “b,c,effing “ fun !
The political issues of ‘ gender diversityism’, climate alarmism, veganism, ‘extinction rebellionism’ and all the other desperately important ‘ isms ‘ which dominate certain media outlets don’t occupy much time of the day or night in suburban Australia. Survival is the key issue and that means meeting the payments when they fall due, getting children to and from school safely, maintaining family health and enjoying social events when possible. These suburban Australians do all this with grace and enthusiasm; being law-abiding and decent people they absorb much before their hackles become raised. But, and it is a very important but, in a parliamentary democracy such as Australia, if you fire up the majority of suburban Australians through political opportunism or stupidity, you will be hammered mercilessly at the ballot box. Many Australian politicians have discovered that, as they are kicked out of office ‘ on their bums ‘; simply because they took the Australian suburbs for granted.
The sprawling suburbs around Australian cities are where Australia is – it is as simple as that.
Located West of the developed suburban arc along our coast, and mentally, totally removed from inner-city living is the Australian ‘ bush ‘. Regional cities, small towns, mining communities and even smaller settlements are sprinkled over the vast empty landscape. Broadacre farming and the pastoral industry are the twin economic engines which drive the ‘ bush ‘. Mining makes a substantial contribution, but the long term inhabitants are the old farming and grazing families whose fathers and fore-fathers wrenched the land from its natural state; and through stubbornness and an innate ability to make things happen, have been able to create some of the best agricultural products world markets have enjoyed.
European settlement of the ‘ bush ‘ brought much sadness and tragedy for the Australian aboriginals who were already living on this country. Anger, cruelty and violence, from both sides, dominated the early days of bush living but it was a one-sided contest and there are unresolved issues which are still being addressed today. Not everyone is happy about the way these issues are being addressed; that is not surprising, and there is much work yet to be done.
Cranky Lizard has no intention of adding to the existing volume of splendid literary works describing life in the ‘ bush ‘; there is already enough of that. Distance between people and settlements and distance from market places dominate daily life in this region of Australia. The relentless isolation generates an attitude of self-reliance which is critical to survival and is the principal difference between urban dwelling and rural living. If you want water, you usually have to sink a bore and find it – hopefully you will be able to drink it! If you want electric light and power, you usually have to generate your own and bear the costs of doing so!
The weather dominates your life, what you can do each day is determined by the weather. And you have no control over the weather – you live or die by accommodating the fickle weather patterns. Do you sow crops this year? Do I move cattle to that area? Fundamental decisions of life-changing potential are made daily and believe me, you have to live with consequences of those decisions – no one can bail you out!
At the beginning of this article, I wrote of the significant differences in the lives of Australians as we live in certain parts of our beautiful country. Those differences, I suggest, are also our strengths for they bind us in common cause. As proof of that I offer the phenomenon of the ‘ hay runner ‘ truck convoys, trucks and diesel given freely, money from urban and city folks given generously to buy the hay and much misery alleviated.
Many examples of our common causes exist – you can identify them without the pointing fingers of Cranky Lizard.
Christmas approaches, once again the timeless story of birth in ancient lands spins its magic. Family reunions, the giving of gifts and the wonderfully optimistic tale of an old bloke in a sleigh occupies our minds.
Cranky Lizard believes in the spirit of Christmas as a Christian festival and, sometimes, maybe just maybe, hears the distant tinkling of sleigh bells in the calm quiet nights of the Australian ‘ bush.’
May you all enjoy a happy and peaceful Christmas surrounded by your families and those who are close to your heart.
Enjoy your days.