Sylvie Shaw

Finding home along the river
Sylvie Shaw arrived in Brisbane early in 2007. Among the first things she decided to do was to get to know her new place. She found a bush track along the Brisbane River and began to watch the seasons, the movement of birds, the wash of the tides and the changing colours, sights and sounds of a small sacred haven in the midst of this sprawling city. Getting to know place also meant, sadly, being witness to the disappearance of peaceful green as old trees, beautiful gardens and lovely heritage houses were torn down to make way for Brisbane's growth. Possums, bats, birds and other creatures lost their homes and sources of food in the rush. There seems little awareness of the need to preserve biodiversity as well as cultural heritage and limited care for the workings of the ecosystem, and significantly for drought-prone Brisbane, of the awesome ritual of the water cycle. Yet the small precious place along the river held a special quality that, despite the desecration, enabled her to find solace, friendship and bounty within the moving tidal flow, the arching eucalypts and the abundant life of the river, human and other than human.

Bio: Sylvie Shaw, lecturer in Religion and Spirituality Studies, School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics, The University of Queensland

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