Beyond the black stump

Words, pictures, imagery and metaphor. Its quite funny to actually visit the place of origin of this very Australian metaphor. I wonder what the equivalents could be in other countries?

I have written before about the interaction between words and pictures, language and imagery. The common expression that a picture is worth a thousand words, or the converse, that a word or several can conjure thousands of images.

It is in that context that I like the image above. ‘Beyond the black stump’ is legendary in the Australian lexicon, at least in the past one hundred years or so in the European derived aspects of our culture. It denotes a place a long way away, usually remote, untamed and largely unknown and not navigated or mapped by the European settlers.

At face value it simply marks a boundary, beyond which requires further exploration. However, at a more profound level, it signifies so much more. It can represent our ignorance, our limited perspectives, sometimes our anxiety to push beyond the frontiers of what we know, as well as be dismissive of what and who live, beyond our known perception.

Importantly, for me, as I explore this area of Western Queensland, Australia, it represents an opportunity for me to learn, to not assume but to be humble in gaining an appreciation for so many things previously beyond my lived experience. As our indigenous folks would encourage, a time to listen and to observe.

These wonderful places are not the ‘boondocks’ (in that derogatory sense) and they are certainly not the ‘back of nowhere’. Even if they are ‘the back of beyond’, then they represent an opportunity for those willing to explore these places to expand their minds, their knowledge and their tolerance.

Beyond the black stump is simply an infinite number of steps, beyond where we started. It is our life’s journey. Enjoy it, and respect all you meet on this special journey, as respect will increase your safety and enhance your well-being.

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