Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Guest Blogger: Jayne Relaford Brown

Dispatch from Downunder 3: Hello from Hobart

After days of recuperating from a luggage-tugging (re)injury that left me unable to lift a spoon to my mouth or type, and a screamingly horrible internet connection here at hotel, here I hope is blogpost. Thanks to The Write Bunch for letting me communicate here--it's added a lot to the trip in terms of seeing/thinking like a writer, and really keeping images and memories in my head.

First, a backup to Eungella (pronounced Yung'la, Land of the Clouds in the aboriginal), the one place we have made a point to return to each visit. The Platypus Pool on the Broken River is my kind of place of worship. In this rainforest pocket, people from all over the world gather, hushed, in anticipation and near-silence. A ripple, a few bubbles, and "There! There!" softly in several languages, or the universal pointing, as a platypus surfaces and we all fall in love. Every time they are still smaller than I expect, only a foot long or so--duckbill, fur, feet and eyeliner that could look fierce or sweet. A few seconds of paddling and they're gone again as we all follow the ripples to the next surfacing.

The road to Eungella goes across the cane fields, past the cane trains and the sugar factories smelling of molasses, up 4.5 ks of 12% grade, and into the mountainsides of waterfalls, palms, shaggy cedars, strangler figs and staghorn ferns. I walked one of the trails with a bottle of water, my camera, and a little note with my name and "Meeting Janice Chernekoff at Broken River tea room." Our cell phones are useless here, and our wallets in the woods. Excitement tippled with fear to be on a trail alone with only one encounter in 5 ks. But the beauty--worth it. How many pictures of a stunning trail turning deeper into rainforest an you take? Heaps, when each turn is more beautiful. And the soft mossy path is heaven.

Hobart--go there if you can. Lonely Planet says 3rd most photogenic city in the world. It rises San Francisco-like from the bay to rooftops on the hill to snow-covered Mt. Wellington, where eucalyptus have adapted to bush-size to survive. (Cadbury Factory!) Downside is the convict past. We went to the Female Factory, a prison where women and children were brought for "crimes" like stealing shawls or food, or "bad behavior," generally accused by partners or bosses. They were sentenced to hard labor, sent out to work as maids, then sentenced to more hard labor when they got pregnant. There's a dig exposing 3 of the stone cells, about the size of dog runs at the pound. Then you can go to the gift shop and buy strawberry fudge. One bright note: there's a legendary protest where several hundred of them exposed their bare bums to the governor and his wife, slapping them (their bums) to register their contempt.

We're off to Bruny Island this morning, hoping to see the penguin rookery, the southernmost lighthouse and pub in Australia. I'm in love with Tasmania, so happy we came. More to come. Cheers to all. Jayne

1 comment:

Nancy said...

Jayne - A platypus??? Now I truly am jealous, really. Thanks for the dispatches from Downunder. Love to you and Janice.