One inspiration for The Slipping Place was Hobart, my glorious, complex home city.
Hobart is a vibrant, exciting, comfortable, nurturing place. The climate is benign and there’s a lot of artistic activity and all kinds of community things going on there. Hobart is a lively place to live.
And yet, it sits caught between two enormous emptinesses.
The southern ocean
There is nothing between Hobart and Antarctica. We western settlers had to cross miles of frozen ocean to get there. And there’s a very deep harbour. The ocean pushes right up into the centre of the town.
And you can see that in the light. Hobart is full of white Antarctic light. And that casts deep shadows.
Our mountain, Kunanyi/Mount Wellington, towers up right behind the town. It draws the eye and is very much the soul of the city. And pressing into the back of that is the immense southwest wilderness: precious, beautiful, irreplaceable, and also inhospitable and impenetrable and indifferent to humankind.
When they arrived the settlers built houses of thick stone walls and turned their back on the mountain. In a way they were trying to shut out the wilderness, to take shelter.
I think in Hobart, despite everything that’s going on, there’s an underlying sense of loneliness and isolation. I felt it as a child, growing up there and I still feel it today.
Veronica talks about this in The Slipping Place. Growing up in Hobart, you live with a vague sense that there’s a big exciting world out there … and it’s a long way away.
*One reviewer said “Hobart appears as luminescent” which pleased me.