This stunning and insightful book – A Stray Liana – chronicles an odyssey spanning more than thirty-years, through some of Australia’s most remote and traditional Indigenous homelands and into the heart of the world’s oldest rainforest.
In Australia’s tropical north-east, about the sixteenth parallel, a great global treasure possesses the richest portion of what has been ranked as the second-most irreplaceable natural and mixed World Heritage site currently included on the World Heritage List. The adjoining portion of Great Barrier Reef and at its nexus, the world’s most diverse mangrove community, compound this fantastic fusion of World Heritage wonders into Nature’s Masterpiece.
Australia’s unprecedented decision to compulsorily inscribe a modicum of freehold-land into its nominated World Heritage area, led to my own Daintree Rainforest inhabitancy.
Through a chosen profession in outdoor-education and a succession of postings within some of Australia’s most remote and traditional Indigenous homelands, the profundity and wisdom of the oldest and longest-surviving human cultures in the world, greatly expanded the boundaries of the world-view established within the cultural constraints of my own upbringing.
I wondered, with increasing disbelief, how the national interest could possibly be served by dismissing the value of this astonishing human resource, but I also ultimately resolved to attach the remainder of my own existence to the enriching inhabitancy of a corresponding natural environment.
Living amongst inordinate rainforest complexity, human inhabitants are rewarded with phenomenal beauty and vitality, through exquisite expressions of order, functionality and purpose. Human inhabitancy provides an unrivalled resource for capturing this phenomena and an ever-increasing capacity to act upon the life-interests of this unique resourcefulness. Beauty and vitality play an informative role within the human pursuit of insight and understanding, to an extent that is only possible for the human inhabitant and for every additional insight and understanding, the memory of the thing is also enriched with emotional reward, encouraging increased attentiveness. In evolutionary terms, the uniqueness of this facility resonates with human purpose and without human inhabitancy, a natural environment is robbed of the sole faculty that could otherwise apprehend the greater dimensions of beauty and vitality and properly respond to their aspirational interests.
A multitude of organisms communicate chemically to distinguish themselves individually, as members of a like-kind and to define position and willingness to relate. An ecological overture plays across the landscape, triggering human sensitivity into corresponding neural accord, to underpin language formation and the storage and recall requirements necessary for a successful human inhabitancy. As every natural landscape expresses a different chemical conversation, so do its human inhabitants develop a uniquely conforming environmental vernacular.
WHAT'S IN A NAME? Merely identifying the particular part of the world that occupies the centrepiece of this reporting, is confounded by a crisis of identity. Cooper Creek drains the middle of the three
THE MORNING CHORUS Daintree Rainforest begins its day with a vocal changing of guard. The steady prattle of nocturnal insects, interspersed with crooning male tree-frogs and intermittent outbursts of authoritative scrub-fowl, is replaced by a