Yarbrough (Blog:awalkingdelight)

Australia and New Zealand in 2019

Written by: Chet Yarbrough

Traveling from America to Australia and New Zealand is exciting and exhausting.  You arrive on the same day you leave but only because you have crossed the International Date Line. 

Not to be missed but not to be envied, it takes over 19 hours to reach Australia/New Zealand by plane.  What you experience when you explore these fabulous countries is worth every minute of your flight. 

Australia is a vast country that equals the size of the continental United States.  Though there are only 6 states and 2 territories, the diverse geography and beauty of Australia equals the geographic size and beauty of continental America.

Many surprises await uninformed Americans who choose to make the trip. 


There are many common characteristics, both good and bad, in the history of America and these two nations.  The bad is the displacement and discrimination of indigenous populations in Australia, and New Zealand.  Just like the American treatment of the Indians, Australia and New Zealand disenfranchised and discriminated against their indigenous population.

The good is the economic progress of all three nations and the intent to redress the harm that has been done. Its a slow process of reconciliation that will never be resolved in a way that satisfies the conscience of every American, Australian, and New Zealander. One gets the feeling that Australia and New Zealand, like America, are struggling with how to equitably deal with generations of white discrimination.

From farmlands, to deserts, to lakes, to rain forests, to Pacific seascapes, to mountain water falls, to cityscapes, Australia and New Zealand shine as brightly as any place in America. 

Warm reception of Americans by Australians and Kiwis make every day a new and enjoyable adventure.  Having an opportunity to meet and learn about the culture of Aboriginal and Maori indigenous minorities holds the same fascination that Americans have in meeting indigenous American Indians. 

The story of Australian Aborigines is as heart rending as early American treatment of Indians.  A similar story is told by Maori tribe leaders in New Zealand.  However, the Aboriginal and Maori interests and experience are as diverse as America’s Black and Indian interests and experience in America.

Life is entirely different between the Aboriginal and Maori cultures.

Aboriginal Rain Forest Guide

Aborigines look to accepting and nurturing their relationship with nature. Their wealth is in their love of land, nature, and their unique culture.

Mauri Elder whose son is an elected village leader.
Maori look to improvement in their standard of living through economic growth. They, like many Americans, focus on the creation of wealth to improve their standard of living.

Both have deep concern for the environment, but one culture primarily looks for reward from living with nature. The other looks for reward from human works and a relationship with nature.  Each recognizes the importance of the environment but the first chooses to live with nature as it is; the second chooses to exercise some control over nature to improve their economic well-being.

Aboriginal culture is diverse but not hierarchically organized. Maori culture is democratically hierarchical.  Another way of understanding this difference in cultures is that an Aboriginal leader is one among equals while a Maori leader is part of a democratically elected hierarchy. A common thread is both Aborigine and Maori people wish to retain their culture. There may always be a difference in cultures but each culture will be changed by the influence of nature. Intermarriage and environmental change are inevitable dilutions of people’s ethnicity and culture. That can be seen in facial feature changes and out-of-culture marriage stories told by Aboriginal and Maori people.

Both indigenous cultures are acknowledged as poorly treated in the history of Australia’s and New Zealand’s largely white governments. The Aborigines and Maori people were subject to physical mistreatment, land confiscation, and discrimination.  Both governments are trying to amend their historic mistakes.  Evidence of that effort is in returning control of public lands to Aborigines in Australia and allowing Maori culture to build their own economic successes.

What can compensate for hundreds of years of discrimination? What can compensate for a land that was once owned by indigenous peoples? Who is to say all self-interest is the same? These questions apply to all countries with displaced indigenous populations; none seem answerable.

Control of Ayres Rock in Australia is returned to the Aborigines. This is one of two sacred sites that were previously controlled by Australia’s white government.

November 17, 2019 is the last day any tourist could climb Ayres Rock. We had the privilege of being a part of Australia’s history by seeing the last rock climbers.

Pictures speak for themselves in showing how independent, and economically self-sufficient Australia and New Zealand have become.  Aside from Australia’s and New Zealand’s effort to correct indigenous mistakes, both countries are self-sufficient economies; blessed with extraordinary beauty.  From shore to shore, Australia’s and New Zealand’s beauty equals America.

No country of the many we have visited exceeds the splendor of these nations.

Our hearts go out to Australia. The fires were just beginning when we left Sydney. The smoke obstructed clear views of the Opera house but were far from the devastation that has occurred since we left.

Author: chet8757

Graduate Oregon State University and Northern Illinois University, Former City Manager, Corporate Vice President, General Contractor, Non-Profit Project Manager, occasional free lance writer and photographer for the Las Vegas Review Journal.

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