Travelling – From tropical coast to dry inland

Outback drought 1

Thousands of mangled kangaroo carcasses litter the roadside – some desiccated fur and bleached bones, others fresh and being devoured by ravens and raptors. A ghastly sight, but not much is wasted.

Mobs of kangaroos suffer the midday sun, searching out a morsel of grass worth eating. As brutal as it might sound, motorists unintentionally running the roos down are doing them and their kind a favour. The drought is harsh.

Creeks are bone-dry, rivers reduced to chains of stagnant puddles, farm dams are not much better. Emus wander aimlessly across abandoned paddocks, camouflaged against the grey bushland.

Outback drought 2

Acacias are beginning to bloom – today is national Wattle Day. Occasional thickets of cypress and weeping wilga share the landscape with the wattle and eucalypts. Hundreds of kilometres of the grey semi-arid vegetation and dusty earth becomes monotonous, so we pull over to rest and watch the birdlife. It’s only when you stop and take the time to observe the land that the birds reveal themselves.

Bowra 03 Varied Sittella
Varied Sittella
Bowra 14 White-plumed HE
White-plumed Honeyeaters

We left the tropical Queensland coast and mountains behind a few days ago. Instead of sandy beaches lined with palms, we now have sandy plains, bull dust swirling as a willy-willy whips up the bare ground, and scrub struggling to survive.

The further west we travel, the less traffic we encounter. An occasional caravanner dodging road-kill, like us, and road trains ploughing through them. Australia is a vast and diverse country and I feel fortunate to travel in comfort and safety, and although the scenery is dull in colour and sparse in density, there is beauty all around for those who appreciate the details of nature.

Outback drought 3

Do we consume fear?

I am not well versed in how ‘energy’ works. All I know, is that we’re all connected by Universal energy, energetic threads, a web, that connects us all – so that one action or thought on one side of the world can, and does, affect people and conditions on the other side of the world.

A visit to the cattle sale-yards was an eye-opener for me, a spectacle that affected me emotionally, on a soul level. It heightened my sense of right and wrong, prompted me to ask myself questions.

Humans treat animals like a commodity to be used, abused, like it is our birthright to get every possible inch out of an animal’s life. It reminded me of old movies where black slaves were traded, used, abused.

Cattle housed in a grassy paddock in their ‘usual’ environment have warm gentle faces, deep eyes that reflect the peace that is their life; a slow life of farm routine.

The eyes of the cattle at the sale-yard betrayed the fear they were experiencing. Fear thrust upon them as their routine was interrupted with the herding up ramps into trucks. Crowded. Foreign. Fear as they are transported, unloaded, penned. Waiting. Moved from pen to pen, yarded, loaded again, trucked again. To where? Most will go to feedlots to be fattened on unnatural food, with no shade, no grass, no opportunity to exercise. When they meet human standards, they’ll be loaded and trucked again, to an abattoir. More fear as they breathe in the stench of death; death of their own kind.

An old white bull is shuffled from one pen to another. The beast is past its use-by date, done its job, completed its life’s purpose. It slides as it enters the pen ungainly, struggles to regain a solid footing, but falls. It is injured and can’t stand, but it does get up. Both hind legs are hurt, the right is worse than the left. No wounds, just tired legs that can’t withstand the foreign treatment. It falls again. A tear escapes my eye as I watch from the public platform above the animals.

The bulls remains are probably destined for the canned pet food market, or for beef patties for fast food chains. Why? Why can’t that beast be respectfully retired to a paddock, or at least shot in the head at the back of the farm and pushed into a  hole?

Does that old bull not deserve to be disposed of in a kindly manner? How much is its carcass worth in dollar figures to the industry it has served? In what condition will that poor animal arrive at the slaughterhouse? And what fear and pain will it be forced to endure on the onward journey?

There is a young healthy steer singled out, alone in a pen without the comfort of his kind for company. A human walks past and the animal moves to the other corner of the tiny pen. Its eyes are the image of fear. Agitated, it tries to make a noise, but fails. It froths at the mouth. I turn to leave. I have seen enough.

I must add, the workers at this facility did not mistreat the animals. I witnessed proficiency and care. It is the expectation of meat in the supermarket cold shelves that causes the problem.

I ask myself: Do we consume their fear at the top of the food chain? The energy? A steak on my plate – does it still contain threads of the animal’s fear? There are issues and morals to ponder here.

My taste-buds have always won over my ethics when it comes to consideration of vegetarianism. But, I feel sickened by my contribution to the poor treatment of animals raised for the table – the insatiable diet of meat. Yes, I contribute because I eat meat and animal products.

Roma saleyards 2