One photo a day until I meet Jonathan Harris

8th April

Today I applied for a visa.

After living for 6 years in a foreign country I am used to this kind of process. As I am not a French citizen, each year I am required to renew my titre de sejour, submitting to the authorities evidence of who I am, where I come from, how I support myself and what I intend doing there. If they don't like the look of any of these things, they can refuse my request and I have to go somewhere else or risk becoming a sans papiers.

Largely as a consequence of James Cook claiming the east coast of Australian for Britain in 1770, I was born in Australia where my ancestors have been living peacefully for over 5 generations. However, there seems to be increasing evidence to show that Cook's original land claim was disputed.

Most Australians of european origin covet the French. Beyond the perceptions of impeccable style and delicious food, I think they envy the deep and rich culture that comes from the French people's strong and long-standing connection to their land. France's history is a lot uglier than their chic handbags, but they are certainly not ashamed of it. This is not a feeling I share as each time a french friend asks a question about Australia's relationship with its indigenous inhabitants I shift uncomfortably from foot to foot and say something like "well... its a very complicated issue". Its that feeling of shame that I was hoping to address by requesting a visa.

The Aboriginal Tent Embassy is the most visible presence of the continued defiance of Cook's original land claim. Situated right in front of the houses of Parliament and in the shadow of a statue of King George V, their protest fire, burning constantly since 1992 is a persistent reminder that some people aren't happy with the way things panned out. Being born not far from it and trusting the word 'embassy', I figured it would the most logical place to submit my application for a visa. 

Living for 6 years in France has taught me not to fear bureaucracy, only to be patient with it. So like I do every year in France, after handing over all the paperwork I'm now crossing my fingers and hoping for the best.

Aboriginal Australia visa application and supporting paperwork.