• The Southern Cross has been a part of Australia’s Indigenous cosmology for millennia. (Sydney Film Festival)Source: Sydney Film Festival
COMMENT: Travis Cardona talks about The Southern Cross, the Cronulla riots and and the Northern Territory's own Paul's Iced Coffee.
By
Travis Cardona

23 Jul 2017 - 11:00 AM  UPDATED 23 Jul 2017 - 11:01 AM

We Don’t Need A Map. A new documentary exploring the Southern Cross from its ancient history to what it means in modern culture. Ok, I’ll be honest as an NT bloke from Darwin now living in Sydney I need more than a map. I need Siri on Google Maps talking really slowly, delivering information well in advance when trying to navigate around the big smoke. 

I’m a proud Territorian who grew up loving country and I’m definitely a big admirer of the impressive Southern Cross at night. I don’t think there has ever been a night that I haven’t looked up at the stars, and if I’m with someone, I’ll always point it out to them with great pride and amazement.

This is scary to say when I was 16 I was trying to work out where on my body I was going to get the Southern Cross tattooed. In my defense this was at least 2 years before the Cronulla riots, and I also I wanted a tattoo of the Aboriginal Flag, the ‘Made in Australia’ sign and the Paul’s Iced Coffee image with its slogan, ‘Territory’s Own’. To call me a patriot of the NT at the time would be an understatement.  Lucky I was way too broke to ever get a tattoo and now that I’m 31 I’m pretty stoked I didn’t.  

I was 18-19 when the Cronulla riots happened, I remember sitting around with cousins watching TV getting really pissed off, but also laughing at the stupidity of it all. A whole bunch of people screaming about how they own this land and they’re going to ‘bash anyone’ who disagrees and ‘their forefathers fought for this land ra ra ra ra…’ That’s literally all I heard.

The images of those two guys being attacked by a mob of angry white blokes has stayed with me ever since. I remember thinking; what if I was there? What would stop the angry alcohol-fuelled mob draped in the Australian flag from attacking me? Because let’s face it I’m of a similar look to those other two fellas.

The fact that there were thousands of non-Indigenous people trying to reclaim the beaches that were originally taken from Indigenous people in the first place has to be one of the the most ironic things that could happen.  Also given that Aboriginal people have been protecting and fighting for this country well before colonisation - just ask the Dutch and Spanish, and the First Fleet mob.

Even though I would happily see our current national flag changed to something more inclusive, strangely, as an Aboriginal man - I have always had respect for our Australian Flag.

I was never a fan of the Australian flag, mainly due to the Union Jack. I barely related to it, let alone actually knew what it meant. The Southern Cross on the other hand was the only thing I felt connected with on the national flag. I remember when we had to sing the national anthem at school, the flags would be raised during assembly and I would almost always look at the Southern Cross and be reminded of the many times I gazed at it in the nights sky. It was something I was always proud of. That was until a bunch of so-called patriots decided to use it as their shield to hide behind while inciting fear and ostracising minority groups.

There was a wicked sci-fi film back in the day called Event Horizon starring Sam Neil, and on his space suit there was a flag of the county he represented and there an Aboriginal flag in place of the Union Jack, the Southern Cross was still there. I always thought it was just brilliant until someone pointed out it needs something for the Torres Strait Islander community, which I agree with. Even though I would happily see our current national flag changed to something more inclusive, strangely, as an Aboriginal man - I have always had respect for our Australian Flag. I realise that many people see it as their national icon and I was always taught it’s important to respect other’s views.

My guess is that people love the Australian flag and particularly its Southern Cross because it connects them to this country. It gives them something to point at and say I belong to that. However I believe being Australian is a great deal more complicated than just pointing out what suits you - being Australian to me, is knowing and respecting our history.

They are missing the land marks that tell stories of this country, they are not seeing or hearing the birds and animals that still talk the country’s language.

To me, being Australian is opening your eyes, mind and heart to all aspects of the past, present and future; from trying to fathom possibly 100,000 years of Aboriginal history and connection to this country to the importance of protecting our fragile eco system for the next generations. Some Australians may have got their bearings on auto pilot from Siri, only taking information that suits them on their journey, however I believe they are missing out on all the good stuff. They are missing the land marks that tell stories of this country, they are not seeing or hearing the birds and animals that still talk the country’s language.

Warrick Thornton’s You Are Here is everything a 31-year-old politically patriotic-confused Indigenous man needs. It calmed me and gave me strength to keep being different and thinking the way my NT outdoor environment made me and not how patriotic western society wants me to be. I’m a long way from home living in Sydney and occasionally I can sound like a complete nut job when it comes to talking about the importance of land and culture, but Warrick’s We Don’t Need A Map left me only wanting to be truly me, a patriotic Iwadja, Malak Malak, TSI, Territorian Australian who loves his country’s many languages, land, cultures, plants, animals, peoples, Territory’s Own Paul’s Iced Coffee and the Southern Cross. 

 We Don't Need A Map is a part of the #YouAreHere documentary series, premiering tonight Sunday, 23 July at 8.30pm on NITV Ch. 34.