When I first arrived in Perth in 1992, the struggle over the development of the Swan Brewery, located on a Nyungar sacred site of the rainbow serpent dreaming, was still raging. In the darkness of early morning, my housemates and I attended the picket line before construction workers or police arrived. Many of the influential activists of the time sat gathered in circles, including Robert Bropho and the wonderfully vital Yaluritja Clarrie Isaacs.
When Tracy and Tim arrive, I’ll go up and close the double gates behind them. At this time of evening it would be usual to see roos, but none show. Their numbers are down. People have been shooting illegally in the reserve, and earlier in the day I noticed a strand of fence-wire cut where a hunter has stepped over, chasing roos onto our place. Our property. I reject the notion of property. Custodianship sounds too appropriative, and for a non-Indigenous resident, all too convenient. Really, that’s the issue that burns below the surface of all I write about this place. Proudhon is only halfway there with ‘property is theft’. Some theft is more theft than others. He fails to investigate the nature of such theft: that’s more the key to understanding the implications of surveying, gifting, selling, claiming.