Hobart sits on the edge of two great emptinesses.
This is what fascinated me in the writing of The Slipping Place and it’s something I tried to convey.
Tasmania is surrounded by vast, dangerous, icy oceans. The European settlers crossed these to arrive here.
In a way I think we have inherited a deep sense of loneliness. At some level we are aware that we are miles away from anywhere, at the cold edge of the world. You can see this in our pure light that seems to reflect straight up from Antarctica. Certainly as a child I felt this. I yearned for an elsewhere that was warm and fast and important and a long way away.
We also live on the edge of vast, glorious, precious, inhospitable wildernesses. Walls of rock and deep impenetrable forests. In a way Hobart can seem like a refuge, a place of protection. In the early years, we built thick stone walls. I imagine the oldest buildings turning their back on the mountain and what lies behind it.
These – the wilderness, the mountain, the ocean air, the Antarctic light, the danger, the past – these are fundamental to Hobart’s profound and complex beauty. Nowadays, in many ways, we embrace and celebrate our wilderness, the coastline, the sea and the mountain. But at the same time, I think there is something deep in our psychologies of sheltering ourselves and turning away.