by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Journeys : Jun Jul 2011
Ben Walter is a Tasmanian writer and poet, whose work has been published in Island, Famous Reporter and Overland. He is the author of the melancholy wilderness book, Below Tree Level, and he has recently edited an anthology of Tasmanian writing/craft collaborations, I Sleep in Haysheds and Corners (see our review on page 41). AlanMoyle We assert, again and again, that our Tasmanian pinots and cheeses are among the finest in the world. The French just assume it. But the sea cliffs fencing the coastline around Cape Pillar are ours. There are no columns like them anywhere else in the world. There’s nothing in our glacial lakes that needs to aspire to anything, that needs to catch up with anything. You have Niagara Falls? Good on you. We have Federation Peak. So are these valuable natural wonders, where I like to bushwalk, my slices of the island? Are these home to me? Is this why I find myself writing about them? Well, why would a stor y about a shop in Elizabeth Street, or a poem about a friend living in Hamilton be interesting? Why would that be distinctive or worth writing about? And this is where I can locate my frustration at the festival; this is why the term ‘w ilderness poet’ didn’t sit comfortably with me at all. Because I don't really believe in what I’ve just been describing. After all, I spend most of my time living in Hobar t, migrating around different houses in the suburbs; right now, an old, cluttered share-house in West Hobart with a nectarine tree, lots of weeds, silver beet and chickens. Every morning, I get up early and watch the sun pause over the city, wonder ing what the colours will do. Sometimes, when I walk dow n into tow n, I’ll try to read a book, dodging the telegraph poles, but for the most part I’m happier taking in what I see around me; the other striding commuters, the dog walkers, the signs on the buildings, the enormous var iety of fences and stone walls bordering the path, the colours and stages of decay; a quick check to see how the overhanging olives are coming on. There’s a real affinity in me for these suburbs that have never quite managed to spread themselves out to a sprawl. I grew up in Lindisfar ne, and still like to climb the meagre Natone Hill or visit the old op-shop and the courteous older ladies who always seem to be there. So what am I to make of this? Well, I seem to be terr ible at noticing my actual slice of Tasmania, the one so many of us know and keep ourselves in, these communities pooled around the urban centres. I rely too much on the breathtaking, but these are real people and places, as real as anywhere in the world. They are themselves, the places to which I belong, and they need not feel inferior in any way. All I really need to write a story is to spend a few minutes watching the roundabout at the bottom of my hilly street. And after all, sometimes it’s bucketing dow n with sleet, and I want to be nowhere near the edges of cliffs, but sitting in front of my father’s wood fire, eating a toasted cheese sandwich. Overland Track; Ben’s garden; North Hobart street scenes TourismTasmaniaandChrisBrayPhotography In Tasmania today June / July 2011 45
Apr May 2011
MNJ Aug Sep 2011