Sunday, December 11, 2022

Revisiting the island to the North – a nearby foreign country

Sitting by a roaring fire in a wintry pub in the Central Highlands of Tasmania near where I grew up, I read that Tasmanians liked to call Australia ‘the Island to the North’. Many years later I went back to Tasmania, in early 2019, driving through an island on fire to reach the tiny village where I grew up in the centre of the island, by the shores of Lake St Clair. Now after three more years of bushfires and floods and pandemic, I have been thinking about the island to the North, its tiny neighbours and the vast Pacific Ocean that laps and links them.

The island to the North a nearby foreign country
As a long-term Tasmanian-in-exile, even if of my own choice, it’s interesting to think about Australia in the 21st century, as someone who hails from another nearby island, looking at its much bigger neighbour as an immigrant. 

I travel the back lanes of this strange land, marvelling at the people. They speak a strange language, not all that different to Tasmanian, though I am aware that Tasmania has many languages – as does the island to the North. Deciphering them is the challenge.