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.