Saturday, March 28, 2009


Wow. Tasmania is one awesome place. I had hoped to put up some pictures midweek, but I’ve been pretty far from electricity let alone the internet. But before I get ahead of myself, we’ll start in Hobart.

Tasmania is a battlefield for logging interests and environmental warriors. A swarm of protesters marched from the capital city’s park to the police station to chant and wave signs and, of all things, arrest themselves.

It was a show of solidarity among the greenies whose leadership had been singled out and arrested two months prior at a rally attended by hundreds. Thirty dissenters successfully entered the station and turned themselves in for illegally trespassing on Forestry Tasmania property.

From the protest I went straight out to the front lines of the conflict at the Upper Florentine Valley where a dozen or so eco-sentinels were stationed at a blockade. To prevent Forestry Tasmania from simply arresting everyone and bulldozing away their camps and obstacles, the activists rigged cables up to everything, connecting all structures, gravel impediments to tree-sits manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so that any sort of

intervention would be an effective act of murder.

The escalation of more elaborate methods by the Loraxes for self sacrifice for the sake of the forests is evidence for the duration of the conflict. They have people sleeping in cars blocking the logging track with their arms manacled to cement blocks embedded into the earth beneath, so that to move the vehicles without dismembering anyone, loggers must first disassemble the autos piece by piece.

And to prevent forestry from bringing in cherry-pickers to pull the “possums,” as the tree-sitters are called, from their 50-meter perches, the greenies dug some sort of tunnel under the road in which somebody resides full-time that is primed to collapse causing a gruesome death by squishing should any of Forestry’s fleet of heavy machinery venture across the road above.

Anyway, I was mighty impressed with all their courage and determination, but I’m not allowed to post any photos of the warriors online to protect their identity. For similar reasons they all go by groovy superhero pseudonyms like “skunk,” “quoll,” or “bones.” If you want to cheer them on or join the fight check out their website:

I continued my whirlwind eco-tour by cruising up the road to Lake Pedder, an artificial body created by the

construction of several massive dams that generate loads of hydroelectric power for the state.

Then straight after drove through the Franklin River National Park, a reserve created in a successful battle to prevent the damming of the river that was slated to meet a similar fate. The saving of the Franklin River was the first campaign of the Wilderness Society led in part by Senator Bob Brown who went on to found the Australian Green Party.

It was pretty cloudy that day. You could even see the clouds forming down below from this elevation. No rain though, which was lucky given the area receives 2 to 3 meters of it per year.

I also got to see some of the biggest trees in the world in the Styx Valley. Without the efforts of TWS they would be nothing but lumber and paper pulp.

I followed a map I got from TWS campaign center in Hobart, but it apparently landed me in some sort of active logging zone off limits to the public. A Forestry Tasmania official promptly escorted me back to the highway. I took some pictures of some of the awful clear-felled, still-smoldering remains of what used to be old growth rainforest, but none of them came out that well as I was snapping them furtively over my shoulder out the window while doing 90 km/hr down a winding gravel road.

I made it out to the west coast and combed the beach for an afternoon. On the way two towns: 1) Strahan, Tassie’s “tourist mecca” contained nobody under the age of 65. 2) Queenstown, the busted remains of a mining town surrounded by a desolate moonscape wrought such by acid rain and heavy metal contamination.

On my way back southeast to Hobart I woke up to this:

…and then on the Bruny Island, just 40 minutes drive and a short ferry ride from Hobart, but essentially the end of the earth.

I ran into a bit of a kindred spirit in a bloke from Queensland named “Pat.” No he wasn’t into birds, but he was into a bit of plants and trees, and was, like me, sleeping in his car, traveling alone and keen to explore the island’s natural wonders while spending as little money as possible.

We complemented each other well with, me pointing out and identifying anything with feathers, while he kept encouraging me to try different edible plants and berries.

We parted ways today in Hobart when he took off for the Tasmanian Peninsula, while I’ve got to fly back to the mainland. I have to say I’m a bit jealous. A week is far too short to spend on this island. It looks so small on maps, but I hardly had a chance to see half of half of it.

I’ve learned though that with traveling that no matter how long you plan to stay in a good place, it’s never long enough.

This is probably my longest post, yet it could have easily been quite a bit longer. Ironically my parents are en route to Sydney at the moment, so nobody will probably read it anyway. Ha!

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