Despite my strong, and I mean strong, preference for inner-city living and all that comes with it, my childhood was not that of your typical city-dweller. My first birthday was spent in a combi van in the northern rainforests of Australia. My holidays included trips to remote Buddhist monasteries and visits to my dad’s hippy friends – who were then living a totally vegan lifestyle in a self-sustaining cottage hours away from anywhere.
Of all of my outdoor adventures as a child, our annual Easter camping trips were my favorite. The whole clan – and by "clan" I mean the most ramshackle group of ex-hippies and relatives you’ve ever seen – would pack up their station wagons and head to the Snowy River for two weeks of bonfires, hiking and beer drinking. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Australian geography or history, the Snowy River weaves its way through some of the most beautiful bushland you’ve ever seen and was the stomping grounds of many an infamous bush ranger.
Once the tents were pitched and the damper (that’s Australian bread) was placed over the fire to grow round and fluffy, it was time to do what we did best: Pull on our bathers and attempt to swim in the icy cold water of the river. No matter the weather, every Easter you could find our entire camping contingent kayaking, wading or floating along that little bend of the Snowy. In fact, I made it my prerogative to designate a small, smooth grouping of rocks that overlooked this watery playground as my own. They were known to everyone as "Imogen’s Rocks," and they were simply beautiful. I would lie on them all afternoon and bake myself like a lizard.
Over the years, I saw this beautiful section of river descend into a dry, arid creek bed. Kangaroos that made the long journey to the river would arrive dehydrated and starving, and it was not uncommon to spot their dead bodies lying along the once mighty river’s banks. As the river died due to destructive damming and deforestation, so did everything around it. Eventually, my family stopped going.
I haven’t returned to the Snowy River for many years and to be honest, I’m not sure I want to. I’d rather remember it as the most beautiful place on earth, than as a barren landscape.
Hopefully our Green issue will make you think of all of the beautiful places you visited during your own childhood, and why it’s so important that we preserve them for future generations. Kick-start a greener life with our top 20 ways to save the planet; find out how you can cut back on chemicals in the home; get to know your local organic farmer and use our guide to locate organic and eco-friendly produce and products.
You don’t have to become eco-superheroes overnight, but as the old saying goes, "Every little bit counts."