Sunday, 11 January 2015

The historic Tasman Peninsula

Today, after a sleepless night with the news my uncle had succumbed to cancer in the morning, Mummy, my brother and I, very sad about it, nonetheless decided to go to the Tasman Peninsula. This peninsula, with the typical hilly, green terrain of Tasmania, is infamous for its penal settlements and as the site of the 28 April 1996 Port Arthur Massacre, where Martin Bryant killed thirty-five people in a shooting spree. This tragedy led to demands for the banning of private ownership of automatic and semiautomatic guns and a gun buy-back scheme, which most outside of radical Trotskyists and the libertarian right (as you will know, I have never ridiculed either of those groups) believe to have reduced crime.

Mummy told me firmly not to ever talk about criticism of Howard’s tightening of gun laws when we decided to spend our last day in Tassie on the peninsula, and to look at the scenery. The weather was slightly cooler than the previous day, but remained very warm and with a hot sun in Tassie’s clear air, as we drove the same way out of Hobart before turning towards the peninsula.

The Tasman Peninsula was chosen as a convict settlement largely because it was difficult to escape from due to the narrowness of the land bridge and the steep cliffs. As we drove across the narrow highway into the peninsula, we saw one of the earliest convict prisons in Tasmania. it was fascinating to look at it inside because, despite being unrestored, it gave some interesting details of convict life, which are especially interesting to me because I am fascinated with rural life.

After this, we drove further into the Peninsula, into wetter forests than found near Hobart owing to the heaver rainfall, but soon turned to the sea, where my brother took a long dip despite not having any appropriate swimwear. I chose not to but had terrible trouble sitting down on the rocky shore and was very nervous as Mummy saw down on some hard twigs and rocks.

Next we drove into a low forest on typically poor and leached soils to look at some major ruins. In comparison to previous drives around Tassie, this one was very hard and on unsealed roads that fortunately were dry and not difficult for a small Hyundai. The ruins were almost completely destroyed but still recognisable as a prison, and the vegetation was intact enough to show numerous Superb Fairywrens (Malurus cyaneus) on what was in fact quite dry ground. The walking was definitely tiring and the red-brown soil clearly quite dry despite the region’s humid climate, so I enjoyed out return to the black Hyundai for the day.

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