Oct/Nov 2000 Miscellaneous

The Red Beacon

by Sylvia Petter

There's a red beacon on the top of the Bridge over Sydney Harbour. It's been there as long as I can remember. Maybe it's there to stop planes flying too low. I grew up in Sydney. I'm in Geneva now, but I want to go back and climb the Harbour Bridge. I want to get strapped into a suit and get linked to the next climber. No hankies. No cameras allowed. I'm told the view is the best of all time and you can only keep it in your mind's eye.

I didn't see the red light as I watched the opening of the Sydney Games. And it may not even be in the stills from European glossies, web cams and footage that the TV will be bound to replay. The views of Sydney are known to the world now. No need to describe the flying veils of the Opera and the coat hanger bridge with its red light blinking warning out to the Heads.

"Just a cash Fest," a guy said on World Radio Geneva. He was talking direct from the Games. Has sport been driven to its breaking point by conglomerate interests and the need to cleanse the IOC's house just up the road in Lausanne?

The aborigines are now the focus. The world looks now, but it must see not just the flames which lick a circle around our gold medal hopes.

I can't remember if the red beacon blinks in the daytime. All I see is the ragged word "Sorry" dissolve in the tail spin of a skywriter.

A week ago, headlines shouted: "Australia snubs human rights." A UN panel criticised mandatory sentencing and was told to mind its own business. Aboriginal deaths continue in the jails as the lost children try to find their way home. Reconciliation is still a word far too raw for the Constitution of Australia, and Judith Wright's famous words ring in my mind: "I know that we are justified only by love, but oppressed by arrogant guilt, have room for none."

Show me Sydney after the Games. Show me Redfern. Show me the red beacon on top of the Bridge. It cannot stop blinking.


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