The Australian environment is not for everyone. For many people, eucalyptus trees make an ugly comparison to the straight trunks and deep green leaves that are common in the trees of the northern hemisphere. Branches twist and turn like old deformed fingers, the leaves are faded into pale shades of green while bark hangs off the trunks like tattered and torn hand-me down cloths. Likewise, many people have found the mountain ranges and rivers of Australia to be on the underwhelming side. So old is the land that they are but relics of their past glory. Over millions of years, sharp rising peaks have been eroded to blunt hills and once mighty rivers have drowned among inland sands.
The animals too have often defied affection. The kangaroo has been a plague on farmers as they have jumped fences by night to eat grass reserved for the more docile sheep and cows that will stay in their paddocks and herd towards abattoirs. Likewise, snakes, spiders, jellyfish and crocodiles have served as a reminder that Australia is a harsh land where life is tough and fauna needs to be treated with respect.
While not everyone has seen the beauty in the Australian landscape, some have, and they have been well rewarded with a set of complex emotions that are difficult to describe verbally, but which has inspired their art. What is harsh barren desert one year blooms into a symphony of colour the next as dormant seeds burst into life with breaking rains. The juxtaposition of scenes and vibrancy of emotions have been particularly influencial in art concerning the Australian identity.
Aside from the artistic inspiration, there is something to respect about an environment that resists being locked up and controlled. Whether it is a kangaroo that jumps into water so that it can turn around and drown a pursuing dog or a natural disaster that razors urban development that would have destroyed an ecosystem, the Australian landscape hasn't passively gone the way of Europe where the most intimidating wildlife is a ruminating cow.
Even ferals have an appeal in the way they have combined with the Australian bush to resist human domination. Shooting, aerial poisoning, trapping, fencing, habitat ripping and even genetic engineering have all proved useless in eliminating the feral threat. Meanwhile, selective ecosystems have done what the finest scientists could not. In the island state of Tasmania, the devil has killed off all invasions of the red fox and on Kangaroo Island, goannas have killed off rabbits. The success of the Australian ecosystems when left alone can be quite humbling about human capability, but also quite inspiring about the ecosystem's underlying strength and resilience.