Historically, Australians have always been interested in the outback and fortunes of the people who worked and lived in regional locations. This interest continues to be strongly expressed in modern-day arts, literature and other cultural activities.
Although the fortunes of our rangelands have waxed and waned as old enterprises have made way for new industries, Outback Graves Markers (OGM) volunteers provide a significant service to keeping an active interest in our rangelands vibrant. Importantly, OGM volunteers are providing an opportunity for many urban dwelling families to reconnect with their pioneer and bush family heritage. There are many people associated with pioneering mining and pastoral enterprises who didn’t return to their families. Some of these people were interned in, these days forgotten, cemeteries while others were placed into a lonely and often an unmarked burial place on pastoral leases.
People working the current pastoral leases have a sense of stewardship or obligation to ensure the fallen pioneers resting places are not forgotten. However, there are significant pressures that have depopulated regional areas, which now prevent most outback people realising their stewardship goal of preserving the memory of those who lived and worked the rangelands in earlier times. I know from contemporary familial experience that pastoral lessees are very appreciative of the support OGM volunteers provide that ensures informal cemeteries and lonely graves are protected from obscurity.
Track Care WA Inc. (TCWA) members are keen to be of assistance to the OGM projects and we have found that this involvement provides significant volunteer satisfaction.
TCWA members report they believe that this additional volunteer activity also provides community dividends by way of improved general health and mental health outcomes for people engaged in outdoor physical endeavours. Importantly, regional and non-regional people working towards achieving shared goals enhances understanding and improves social cohesion that helps to diminish any apparent city / country divide.