South by Southwest: Tasmania 1986-1990

The late 1980s were my undergraduate years at the University of Tasmania, so apart from some short trips in 1988 and 1989 to the mainland and to Fiji, I spent them close to home. As home in those days was the Huon Valley, my main photographic opportunities involved rural domesticity and Tasmania’s southern forests, parts of which I had been visiting all my life.

This gallery features two of my favourite areas in the south, the Hartz Mountains National Park and the Tahune Forest Reserve. The latter was sadly burnt out in bushfires at the beginning of this year; fortunately I took the kids there a few years ago. These older photos look a lot like my more recent ones, although there are one or two markers of when they were taken: a shot of a bullet-riddled sign near Farmhouse Creek is a reminder of 1980s environmental battles to save the area from logging.

The later photos in the gallery contain reminders of other environmental battles, documenting as they do a family trip to Lake Pedder and Lake Gordon in the southwest. Pedder today is a product of the Hydro, not the ancient lake it once was; Lake Gordon is a modern creation, but when we visited it in 1990 looked old and tired, as dry conditions had lowered its water levels and exposed all of the trees it had drowned. (Some of these photos are scanned from prints, because the developers cut the negatives as if they were processing a roll of 24 rather than 36, and the negatives of the last dozen frames are lost.)

My first attempt at a novel was going to climax at the Gordon River Dam, but I stalled at the 18,000-word mark before my protagonists set out for it. These were the places that framed my world, thirty years ago. Looking at their photos again, I’m surprised how much they still do.

30 November 2019 · Memory