Have you noticed how prosperous Tuross is looking lately - nearly every house nicely painted, spick and span, many with a new deck to catch the sun and the view? To those of us who have been coming here since the 70s, the change is quite amazing.
And it’s only going to get better. Marlise at the local Real Estate tells me there’s a mere 34 properties for sale in the entire town, so prices are again on the way up. You only have to stay alive to add to your fortune. And here’s the best bit – pick your time and you can still have the entire Coila Beach, all the way to Bingi, to yourself. No wonder we call it a piece of paradise.
It’s not just Tuross. If you drive up the coast road it’s astonishing how much investment has gone into the properties along the way. And if you take the highway, you can’t help but notice just how new and shiny is the fleet of cars you share the road with.
Even the road itself is unrecognisable from the skinny, bumpy ribbon of bitumen we used to negotiate in our burping VW ‘beetles’ and rackety FJ Holdens of yesteryear. Today it’s an armchair ride, punctuated by happy stops at Braidwood’s Bakery or (our favourite) the Lolly Shop with their toasted sandwiches and lattes with that extra shot to see you smiling to Classic ABC all way to Canberra.
In fact, no matter where you travel in this great country, be it to the state capitals or the Outback, it’s prosperity all the way. Of course, there are big pockets of poverty; and it’s true that there’s almost as much inequality here as in America or Britain. But the transformation of our country over the last fifty years has been phenomenal. And it would be easy to think that somehow it’s all due to our innate cleverness, that we actually deserve to be the princes of the earth.
Sure, we’ve all worked very hard to get where we are. But the truth is that most of our wealth comes from the great land itself. We’ve been mining it for the gold that turned us from a penal colony to a young nation; the silver lead and zinc from BHP that started our industrialisation, the coal and the iron ore that makes much of the world’s steel. An ocean of Mitchell grass fed the sheep on whose backs we rode to riches in the 1950s; and the great paddocks grew the wheat and vines and canola and fed the cattle that provided all that export income.
Yep, it was the land, the great island continent, that gave us the foundation of all our prosperity today. And we stole it. Not us personally, of course, but our European forefathers, who arrived with guns and greed, a combination so effective that in less than a century they smashed a culture and a people who had done absolutely nothing to deserve it. For 60,000 years at least they had lived here in harmony with this great land.
And here’s the bit that really hits home – while we didn’t do it ourselves, we have become complicit in the theft because we’ve never acknowledged it and made a treaty that would give the Aboriginal people the primacy they deserve. We’ve just brushed it under the table and pretended it wasn’t there.
These were the thoughts that ran through the mind when our own little Anzac march came down the hill and turned at our corner to begin the rise to the Country Club. We were remembering the wars back to WWI but we’d forgotten the big one, the Frontier War that started it all.
I clapped the kids and their fife band as they passed. But I wished I could have applauded the Aboriginal survivors of that other one. And I don’t think I’m alone in this. Maybe the time has come.