We took a quick drive up the hill to Kuranda — a cloud forest mountain town reinitialized by a hippie community in the 1970s. Looking for an alternative lifestyle the community convinced the Queensland Rail Company and tour operators to bring tourists up to their cloud forest to sell their wares. In 1978 they established a public market that was first open one time a week with a rule that only items they made could be sold. As the tourism industry grew, so did the market and its operating frequency. Now it is open daily, and amongst the home-made items, we found a wide array of commercial trinkets that were not made locally. You could buy Japanese tea, Korean facial creams, and all sorts of souvenirs made in china. You could also buy locally produced art, honey, or even homemade Australian Hemp cookies.
We skipped Birdworld (The largest single collection of birds in Australia) and Butterfly Sanctuary (the largest one in Australia, and passed at the opportunity to hold a Koala for $30.
Kylie loved the playground in the town square and gave it a 10/10 rating. We all enjoyed the different honey samples! We bought some chocolate coated honeycomb and it tasted just like Victoria crumbles. There was gem museum that had fossilized dinosaurs and some amazing geodes and other gems.
Looking at the shops the issue of cultural appropriation came up while visiting some of the shops. There is a fine line between copying another person’s culture for admiration, claiming another’s culture as one’s own, and then something far different and more insidious when profiting off another’s culture by passing it off as your own.
I saw this quote by Tom Djelkwarrngi on the wall of a Didgeridoo shop:
I’ve seen non-aboriginal people blowing, and the way they play there’s no tune, no song and no meaning. The didgeridu is ours, from here, and it does not belong to aboriginal people from the south or non-aboriginal people who have seen us and tried to copy us. We use the didgeridu in celebrations such as circumcision ceremonies, for dancing and for love songs. The didgeridu placed itself here for us. Non-aboriginal people have also tried to take hold of the didgeridu but they just don’t seem to be able to understand it. Maybe if they listen properly to us singing then they might understand. -Tom Djelkwarrngi (Read the original piece here).
This was posted next to some articles about how didgeridoo playing can help one sleep at night. Was the shopkeeper aboriginal? I don’t know. I certainly saw a lot of young white shopkeepers with dreadlocks. There was even a braiding station where one could make their hair look more “ethnic”. I watched a middle aged tourist get their hair braided while pointing to a picture of dark skinned woman with braided hair.
This debate rages in the United States. White people wearing dreadlocks are frequently shamed. Rachel Dolezal resigned her position from NAACP chapter after sources revealed she had no verifiable evidence she had any African American History, but was claiming to be black. Like many people of color who people upset when white people try to talk the talk and walk the walk to show how “ethnic” they are, Tom Djelkwarrngi expressed strong views about non-Arnam First Nation peoples using the didgeridoo.
This is a beautifully written article about cultural appropriation. (Click Here)
Putting all the commercialism aside there were some wonderful vistas. Kylie and Sharleen had a playful walk down and up to the Barron Gorge lookout.