Tasmania Farewell

Above the clouds on the flight back to Melbourne. Already this morning seems a long time ago, packing our bags and receiving a visit from a local cat who dropped by and came into each of our rooms, a welcome chance to stroke soft fur as I am missing MasterB an extraordinary amount and we shan’t be reunited with Billie Dog until this evening. I am guessing the cat visits once its people have set off for work, looking for other appreciative humans.

Visiting cat

Our tours of Tasmania’s penal institutions continued with the Female Factory just outside Hobart, and Richmond Jail at Richmond. I’d recommend the first over the second. Both are sobering, but the Female Factory is particularly well done. Time prevented us from joining the guided tour but we overheard snatches of it and it was quite clearly in a different class to the tour we had on the cemetery island at Port Arthur. The scale was also much smaller and the contrast between the accommodation for the superintendent, the matron and the sub-matron was less stark. To be a woman convict, often transported for the most trivial offences, was to find yourself vulnerable to sexual abuse, locked into a vicious cycle where your word would always be doubted if contradicted by anyone in authority. The fact that so many survived and went onto marry, have families and prosper is testament to the human spirit. The site has worked with archaeologists and artists and builds a poignant picture where, belatedly, these women are given the respect that all human beings are due.

Richmond Jail is the only penal establishment that has survived intact.

 

 

At almost twice the entrance price to the Female Factory it was less than half as well done. Still Richmond had its own surprises. With Vicki’s bruised toes now healing we have an interest in comfortable footwear so a shop called Suitably Shod sounded made for us. It turned out to be short of shoes and full of clothes that neither of us like. As Vicki and I have entirely different tastes in clothing that is almost an achievement. However there was a dog. A wonderful dog called Gem or more probably Jem, a rescue sheepdog of a breed peculiar to Tasmania whose coat owed something to both Bearded Collie and Old English Sheepdog.

 
She was gorgeous. A storybook dog if ever you saw one. Such an expressive face. Her owner, who was minding the shop for a friend, explained that Jem/Gem had not been a success as a sheepdog, and that in previous times would probably have been shot by the farmer once she had produced her two litters. Luckily for the world there is a woman in Tasmania who rescues such dogs and so she found a new home with the woman we met in the shop. Jem/Gem had snuck inside. She looked constantly at her owner for reassurance but responded positively to our overtures which we were told was good as she is quite nervous and before being rehomed had not been inside a house. The conversation developed as they do when dog lovers meet over a lovely dog, and although we never learned the woman’s name we know that she has a horse called Bill, and that she relocated from Melbourne to follow him.

I reckon that’s a story in itself, and we were imagining her arriving at the stable one day to find a note from Bill giving a forwarding address for his hay. So Richmond,Tasmania, became her home. Good for her. Followed her horse and her heart.

Buying cheese for her neighbour Mel, Vicki was asked three times in as many minutes if she had enjoyed Richmond, I’m not talking about three interlocutors; it was the shop assistant who was serving her. Fortunately after this brief Groundhog Day interlude we were quickly restored to normal time by the sight of a youthful Blue Heeler lying in the shade by her owners. Obviously this called for more stroking (of the dog), and conversation (with her owners), Then it was back to a hot car, time to fill the tank and head for the airport.

 

We have enjoyed the ministrations of a TomTom these past days. I have never had a satnav, but this one was great. I have been in cars where the resident satnav has been very bossy. Ours was calm, but just before the Hobart International we lost faith in her when she directed us away from the airport, so we drove back to the parking with her silenced. This momentary faltering in our faith isn’t stopping either of us from determining to get a TomTom at the earliest opportunity.

We’re starting the descent now. For obvious reasons I’m not uploading this now, so when you read this post it won’t be in real time, and we shall be back on the gyround and returned to Seddon and Billie.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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6 thoughts on “Tasmania Farewell

  1. As someone who has visited many jails, especially the Irish sort, I am struck how we look back in a sense of nostalgic horror and think we are beyond such inhumanity without recognizing what goes on in our current penal institutions.

    On a brighter subject, Gem/Jem could secure a contract in Hollywood but I think I want a Blue Heeler.

    • Yes, we thought there were quite a few parallels with Guantanamo Bay when we were at Port Arthur. Blue Heelers seem very popular in the US so you could be in luck.

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