As a small child living in a country town I’d often wander off ‘up the creek’. It was invariably dry except in the middle of winter and it was a delightful way to escape into that other world ‘the bush’. It never occurred to me that someone might own the bush, it was just there. I was, however, already aware of the difference between going up the creek and going into someone else’s yard uninvited.
I didn’t at that stage link the ideas ‘crown land’ and ‘the bush’ at all, much less realize that while ‘crown land’ was, to me, simply ‘the bush’ what it really meant was that it was ‘owned’ by the government.
Later, as a young woman hitch-hiking in off the main road into the bush in the Kimberley, I got a lift in a ute from a group of aboriginal roo-shooters. As we bumped along the track in companionable silence, the elder, in pride of place with his back to the window of the cab, looked around, breathed a sigh of contentment and said “This my land – you like it?”
On hearing my reply – “I love it” – he beamed and said ‘You welcome.’
Ironically I was ‘moved on’ three days later by a white man, a government ranger.