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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2014 Week 10 Hansard (25 September) . .

Page.. 3299..

On 14 October this year the Snowy Hydro SouthCare training and administration facility will be officially opened. The new facility will see all the staff co-located at the helicopter base for the first time. The new facility has administration and training facilities and a multipurpose room to allow them to meet with sponsors and the community and promote awareness of the Snowy Hydro SouthCare's role in the community.

I commend all those involved with Snowy Hydro SouthCare and wish them all the best for their event on 14 October. For more information about their work, I recommend that members visit their website at

Australian geography

DR BOURKE (Ginninderra) (5.46): Last Sunday I was honoured to open an exhibition at Manning Clark House, Amber to Ochre, a series of landscapes by Canberra artist Harijs Piekalns.

Geography is very important to Australians. Our national anthem is mostly about geography. My Country, by Dorothea Mackellar, defends the love of a raw and rugged landscape as opposed to the verdant manicured vistas of Europe. Jack Davis's poem The First-born was published nearly 50 years ago. It goes:

Where are my first born, said the brown land, sighing;

They came from my womb long, long ago.

They were formed of my dust ...

Davis's First-born highlights the differences between that Indigenous relationship with the land as mother and Mackellar's country as a place to love and live.

The national capital was located here in the early 20th century because of geography, and pays homage to Indigenous and non-Indigenous concepts—a meeting place for thousands of years sited here in a cool climate supposedly helpful to intellectual development, according to those 19th century speeches; and a landscape exploited by Walter and Marion Griffin in the urban design of Canberra, which we continue to celebrate and revere.

The role of the land in shaping people is central to Aboriginal thought. Simon Schama's book Landscape and Memory reminds us also of the primary importance of the land within the European psyche as he explores the topography of cultural identity within the Lithuanian forests of his ancestors.

In his exhibition, Harijs Piekalns has drawn inspiration from his Latvian heritage and sought similarities between Latvian animistic beliefs, which see a spiritual essence in inanimate objects such as trees and rocks, and Aboriginal views of a spiritual country. His use of hand-collected ochre, rather than purchasing it already processed in a tube in the local art shop, has allowed him to be strongly influenced by the ochre sites and reinforced his belief that the spirit of the land is transmuted through the use of ochre. These ideas have shaped his work to reveal the abstracted landscapes of his exhibition. Harijs has collected ochres from the far south coast, and refined them using the techniques of Renaissance Europe by grinding them with oil, wax and emulsions.

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