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January 04, 2022

From the archives - Wilderness


In wilderness we see, we feel and smell

Life as it was, as it is: whole and well,

Undisturbed by technology –

Rampant, a rage –

That powerful feature

Of our age.


This land was managed

Through kinship and lore,

By Aboriginal elders, For aeons before;

They lived with the country,

But changed it as well;

Their dreamtime embodies

Our heaven and hell.



We need it to judge

The damage we do;

Need it to keep

The animals too.

We have it to find

Many plants undisturbed;

We love just to visit

Land unperturbed.



Lets snap it in pictures

We treasure and save;

Lets keep it in mind

As memories we crave.

Lets map it as graphics

Which show every part;

Describe it in poems,

In paintings, in art.


Take nothing but photos

When wandering therein.

Leave nothing but footprints.

There won’t be a bin!

Though packs may be full

As you carry them in,

Just follow that rule

So wildness can win!


Don’t let the weeds flourish!

Make sure we don’t nourish

The plants we import,

But bring them up short.



Today as custodians

We all should unite

To keep such land sacred,

Protected, all right.

Lets study it,

Manage and save it now;

Protect it from feral

Fox, horse and cow.


Don’t set it alight,

But keep it from harm

When the tinder is dry

And the weather is warm.

Be careful our love

Doesn’t kill it! Instead,

We need it to be there

Long after we’re dead!


- Dierk von Behrens


Gratefully acknowledging helpful comments by attendees and friends, including Anne Reeves from NPA NSW, Keith Thomas from Nature and Society Forum, and my wife, Rosemary von Behrens. Fifth National Wilderness Conference, Sydney, Australia 9 – 10 September 2006.

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Australian Foundation for Wilderness Limited
ACN 001 112 143
ABN 84 001 112 143
Advocating as 'Wilderness Australia'
Formerly The Colong Foundation for Wilderness Ltd
Registered Office 10/154 Elizabeth Street Sydney NSW 2000
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