Gully cairn

gully cairn

I built this rock cairn in a stony gully next to where I’d camped for a couple of days.  A pleasant little spot, though definitely only for when no rain is expected.  A little pretentious to build a cairn to mark my own camping spot, though that feeling was tempered by building it in the gully since it wont survive the next downpour of rain.  Of course in Canberra that may not be for months. 

Rock cairns are often a little pretentious really.  I’m thinking particularly of the tendency to build a cairn at the top of a mountain, as if we think we are bettering nature just because we built a little pile of stones on top.  On the positive side it’s a nice little ritual to add your one stone to an existing cairn, playing your part in the maintenance of a cultural mark on the land.  Of course the balance between nature and culture has shifted somewhat the last couple of centuries.  Still, it is fun to build a pile of rocks so maybe I shouldn’t try to think about it so much.

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2 Responses to “Gully cairn”

  1. artistatexit0 Says:

    Stacking stones must be a universal human impulse and needs no apology. Isn’t there something in the Australian indigenous traditions that also corresponds to this? A few years ago, I read a book on the rock stacking tradition that has existed for centuries among the native peoples of northwest Canada. Their word for this is something like “nkitsuk” (sp?), anyway, their rock piles are like signposts on a map of experience, providing direction, and remembering events.

  2. Pete McLean Says:

    As far as I know, Australian Indigenous people did not make rock stacks as such. They did however make what is ussually refered to as stone arrangements. I have been doing a little research just now and it seems these did sometimes include stone piles, in the form of a central stone slab with others leant in arround it. Of course indigenous traditions in Australia were quite diverse and certainly not something I have a detailed knowledge of.

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