Sunday 12 March 2017

The "Marree Man"

is a "geoglyph" in the north of the state. It appeared in 1998.It shows an indigenous man. 
It was made with considerable skill in the days before GPS was common. It is thought to have been made by an itinerant artist, one Bardius Goldberg. He has since died and whether he actually made it or not is still the subject of some debate.
At the present time it is also the world's largest geoglyph and it can be seen from space. It measures around 4km high. It has been called "environmental vandalism" and "graffiti" by some but it might also be seen as genuine tribute to the local indigenous people, after all the man who made it didn't exactly advertise the fact. It is thought he never saw it from the air.
Yes, it is back. For a while it almost disappeared because it was overgrown with low, scrubby, dry and dusty bushland. The tourists who paid to fly over it ceased coming.
And then a couple of enterprising pub owners brought it back to life. The locals were, reportedly, delighted. Anything that brings in a bit of money for that remote area is considered to be a "good" thing. The local indigenous community, the Arabunna, are not too fussed either - it means money for them.
Not so a neighbouring indigenous community. They complained. It would seem the real problem is some tension over native title in the area. Now we have the Environmental Protection Agency looking into the matter and threatening to prosecute the two pub owners - for clearing land without permission. The EPA has apparently spent hours and hours on this - and they have spent a lot of money too.
Now the EPA does have other matters to deal with - some of them very serious matters indeed - but this is apparently more important.
I suspect it was originally made with the permission of one or more of the local elders. It would have taken much too long to make for that not to happen. It is, in its own way, a work of art. 
Perhaps it should have been left and allowed to slowly disappear again. I don't know -  but does it say something about the local indigenous community and should we be listening?

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