Twelve years is a long time, one third of a life. I have returned to Hobart three times in the last twelve years but this last return was the only visit long enough to fall back into old rhythms and ways of being, this time I remembered Tasmania properly and this time I didn’t want to leave.
Place is so intimately woven into biography. Landscape’s in a sense become the pegs that ground our notions of self and continuity. We cannot just bury the textile quality of memory and geography and experience the familiar as unknown and therefore virgin territory. Resistance to memory entrenches it as does clinging to it as concrete storyline. Just to observe it as it flows through us as combination of mental impression and physical sensation without stamping a judgment onto it and find that space behind it, beyond it.
The mountain and the hills, the waterfront and the architecture are stunningly beautiful. I have lost the eye of the local and I see like a tourist, it’s overwhelming. I can’t believe I grew up in this awe inspiring place, I frequently find tears in my eyes just because of the magnitude of the beauty of the scenery. I realise it isn’t just normal but precious and rare.
Hobart is a wealthier city than it was, filled with artisan shops and restaurants focusing on local produce. It is well groomed and renovated, the seedy share houses I once lived in are now million dollar waterfront homes.
I love it here.
Hobart is all hills, when you live here you develop a kind of lurching walk. The air is invigoratingly cold and fresh, breathing is giving me so much pleasure. It is these things that make a home, the way the body responds to landscape and climate.
Today we visited Cygnet (the town I grew up in) and surrounding areas, the drive was harrowing! I don’t remember it like this at all, I guess it just seemed normal but I am not used to driving up and down mountains. When we reached ‘the saddle’, the highest point of the journey we were enveloped in grey cloud and it started pouring with rain. I remember when I was a child it would snow in Winter and the highway would be closed at this point. We drove back through the Chanel, a narrow and winding road surrounded by dark and oppressive hills. I always hated that area even as a child, there are many places in Tasmania that have a bleak energy, it is partly the isolation and partly the genocidal history. So much of the landscape is radiant but when you go into the hills there is an oppressive force, I find it very unsettling.
We passed by several houses that I once lived in, my favourite the large old house overlooking the Huon River at Cradoc. The trees we planted are now huge and obscure a clear view, there are wide verandas along three sides of the house, I remember racing around them on roller skates.
Random snippets of thoughts recorded during our six day visit. I found it a very cathartic trip, I feel emptied in some ways and energized in others.
There is a lot that I can’t really articulate very well and there’s not any need to do so. It involves change and clarity, it’s all positive.