Strong Language Warning
When I lived in Alice Springs it was a known Fact that the government had no interest whatsoever in anything that happened outside of Darwin’s southern suburbs. The “Berrimah Line” signalled the end to government funding, representation and development in the southern 90% of the Territory.
I’ve heard a similar metaphor used in New South Wales: the “Sandstone Curtain” is a neat geological cut-off point that divides the Sydney-centric NSW Government from its western constituents in a more powerful way than the Great Dividing Range. South Australia has its rainfall division in Goyder’s Line, Western Australia its Rabbit-proof Fence, and Tasmania its infamous Black Line.
Now I’m going to stick my neck out and say that arid Australia has another important dividing line, which I call the “Cunt Line”.
[After some agonising and much debate with people wiser than me, I’m going to spell it c––– from now on.]
East of the C––– Line, this word retains its shock value. The only other word that comes close for shock is the one that people like Tupac and Chris Rock re-imagined, though usually spelt ending –igga rather than –igger. (You know the one I’m talking about.)
But c––– is different out out west. It’s as though its shock value goes up the higher the rainfall; the lower the rainfall, it’s just a word.
In his book The Bush, Don Watson transcribed a conversation with a pastoralist. He and Watson are discussing buffel grass, a species that was introduced specifically for the pastoral industry. It’s now out of control across much of inland Australia and has become a major deal because it grows quickly, dries out quickly and when it burns it burns with a heat and intensity unknown to native grasses. This has created something of a love–hate relationship between buffel grass and the pastoralists but, as the cocky stated bluntly to Watson, “We plant it for the cows. C–––s love it.”
Can you have or be a good c–––? A teacher friend once did something a little outside the box and one of his Year 10 students shook his head admiringly and muttered, “You’re a hectic c–––, sir.”
I hear women use c––– quite readily out west. There’s no sly nod, no “Hey, check us out, using bad words ironically”. It’s more like, “You’re gonna have to push that door hard; it’s a c––– of a thing”.
The Northern Territory is classic c––– country. In fact, in Alice Springs at the moment there’s a one-woman show running at the Totem Theatre called Welcome to My Cuntry, and then of course there’s the guerrilla tourism project around CU in the NT.
I’m not sure of the exact position of the C––– Line. I do know that it in NSW it runs north–south, pretty much along the Newell Highway through Moree, Narrabri and Dubbo. This does mean that towns like Tamworth, Wagga Wagga and Bathurst fall on the eastern “shock” side, so there may be variations.
That’s the thing with the C––– Line: it’s evasive and hard to pin down. A real c––– of a thing.