Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The island to the North – the islands to the North East

The awkward relationship between Tasmania and the island to the North is not the only clumsy relationship between islands in this part of the world. The history of the ties between the island to the North and the islands of the Pacific is even more troubled. It’s a tale of disappointments and neglect, misunderstandings and myopia, of big and small stumbling into each other.

When I moved to Sydney from Melbourne over two decades ago, after a youth growing up in Tasmania, I was impressed because the house next door had a Tahitian lime tree in the yard. That was my sole connection to Tahiti. Then by a mixture of chance and choice, in September this year I found myself travelling to Tahiti and her islands, as greater Tahiti is described.

I had to keep reminding myself that the photos I took were not something I had picked up from a post card rack.

Getting ready to travel there by way of Auckland I checked some Australian equivalents for climate. Tahiti and Cairns were natural matches while Auckland introduced a chill into the air by matching a location slightly north of Melbourne.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The island to the North – turning the map upside down

I was at school in the era of the Vietnam War. Our geography teacher taught us about the Australian fear of the Yellow Peril, ready to pour down from Asia and inundate the almost empty island to the South. Of course we were in Tasmania so there was little chance they’d get anywhere near us. It wasn’t a case of the World War 2 Brisbane Line, the point short of which it was considered Australia could be abandoned to the Japanese invaders if they came. It was more like the Melbourne Line.

The Bay of Fires - these rocks were once part of the land bridge that connected Tasmania with the island to the North
Our teacher would turn the map upside down to make the point that we were conditioned to see Asia above Australia, implying that gravity was a factor in human migration patterns, sadly confusing our geography with our physics. It didn’t seem to provoke so much anxiety when it became a case of people pouring up from Asia.