Tasmania, a Lovesong: Part II

French ships Recherche, and Esperance, from the d'Entrecasteaux expedition, reaching Tasmania, c. 1792-1793
French ships Recherche, and Esperance, from the d’Entrecasteaux expedition, reaching Tasmania, c. 1792-1793

In September, we share four installments of this short story Tasmania, a Lovesong, by Australian author John Bryson, which journeys us along the eastern waters of Tasmania.

BEAUTY AND ABUNDANCE and solitude are wonders, sure, but most of us live in the cities, either born there or we joined to drift to deny some definition we had then of poverty. My genes come from out of town although I’m a city boy, and judging by the sort of people we happen on in Tasmania, anyway in the eastern half and may be all over, a lot of genes come from outside city walls, and some redefinition of poverty is taking place.

I have in mind surprises like a wayside kiosk in the Derwent Valley, now the shopfront for a local potter, one-time Englishman who fled famed Wedgewood, although he was its chief artisan, and now turns far finer things at the opposite end of the world. This is no surprise to Tasmanians, who are well accustomed to peerless hand-worked furniture and, for another example, to every day recitals from woodwind musicians who have traded the forests of Sibelius and Greig for Ferntree and Lune River.

And I have in mind happenings like watching a long married couple fish shingle pools on the Huon with deep longtail flies, in lovers’ springtime, when garlands of upstream blossom float the eddies and new salmon run beneath. While the action was slow this husband spoke his Romeo lines, with cumulus breath for it was fiercely cold, and his wife answered as Juliet lighting the East, then scene on scene, and all without fault or stammer, because both are Elizabethan scholars, he a professor of English literature, once of Glasgow but now of hereabouts, and she his captivating actress.

Here is something signal about the way folk live in these parts. Around here the intellectual world and the physical are amiable kin, they voyage together, a phenomenon I’ve not seen so strongly anywhere.

About the Author:

In 1985, the book Evil Angels by Australian author John Bryson was released. Its revelatory investigation into the disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain shed new light on the controversial case and quickly became a career defining piece of work for Bryson. Other publications include the novel, To the Death, Amic (Viking/Penguin 1994) a collection of short fiction, Whoring Around (Penguin 1981) and a collection of reportage Backstage at the Revolution. Bryson lectures in law, literary journalism, and fiction, acts on advisory panels to government, NGOs, and universities, and on literary judging panels. At the end of the millennium, a Schools of Journalism panel included him in ‘The 100 Australian Journalists of the Century’. In 2014, he was awarded membership of the Order of Australia.