That is one long flight.
Including the initial ‘hop’ from Launceston back to Sydney, I spent all of Friday and part of Saturday in the air, basically, and in spite of it offering the more or less unique opportunity to see Sydney Harbour Bridge and the blazing lights of Singapore from the air that is not an experience I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone.
But what a trip.
The past three weeks have been inspiring and transformative in a multitude of ways. The chance to begin to know Australia and specifically Tasmania feels no less important to me and to my writing than the months I spent in Russia in the late 1980s – although of course the two experiences could hardly have been more different. It’s hard to sum up my thoughts in any coherent way here – I’m still very much in the process of absorbing what I’ve seen – but I will say that I feel so lucky to have visited Australia at what feels like precisely the right time for me, a time when particular sets of ideas and imagery have been recurring and expanding, needing a setting and a context that Tasmania’s spaces and history have allowed me to imagine.
I did try to blog – just once – from Cradle Mountain, where there was no phone signal but (bizarrely) there was WiFi. Sadly that WiFi was too erratic to deal with much, so I gave up on it. I made notes though – loads of notes – and the ideas for a story I’ve been wanting to write have coalesced and strengthened. It’ll be a while before this work sees the light of day – there are other things in the queue ahead of it, and in any case, the process of reading and thinking and storymaking is only just beginning – but I hope that when I’m eventually ready to write it, this (novel?) will recapture and shape and quantify at least a small part of what my time in Tasmania has given me.
It would be impossible to name everyone individually who helped to make the trip so memorable and so marvellous – there are many whose names we never even learned – but it would be wrong to end this post without thanking the people of Tasmania generally, some of the friendliest I’ve ever met, whose openness, welcoming attitude and lively engagement with and commitment to their landscape, heritage, and natural and social history I found liberating and life-changing.
My mum has all the best photos – she’s a better photographer than I am, which makes me a lazy and inconsistent one – so I might post some of hers when she gets around to emailing them across. In the meantime, here are just a few I have here on my hard drive.
'Matrix' waterfall, Sydney (photo by Peter Allan)
On Bondi Beach (photo by Peter Allan)
Descending from Marion's Lookout, Cradle Mountain National Park
Button Grass and Snow Gum
The Nile Chapel, Deddington
Old house, Deddington
Cataract Gorge, Launceston