Friday, November 18, 2011

Write What You Know: The Ends of the Earth

I started this before I began writing the novel and never finished. There are more Ends of the Earth - for a start I live within walking distance of the sea and you can see the continent from the coast. Here it is, unfinished.
Flee to the Ends of the Earth is one of my favourite phrases. Here's some places I've been that vaguely fit that definition.

- Port Arthur, Tasmania. It's on a peninsula in the South East of Tasmania. Many people who visit Australia miss Tasmania entirely because it's kind of small and not on the way to anywhere. Port Arthur was delibrately isolated from the rest of Tasmania as it was a penal colony.

Tasmania was intersting - temparate rather than the subtropical I'd been in Sydney. I went up Mount Wellington and it snowed; down the bottom it was raining, then the next day was showers and the day after was gorgeous warm sunshine. Almost like home, except with a huge mountain behind it and the enormous Southern Ocean swells. And all the Australians, obviously.

- The Orkney Islands. Here I've written about the weirdness that went down there as I was coming down with something nasty and here the stuff that went on in concensual reality. Also on my way there I went through John O'Groats, the least attractive tourist spot I've ever visited. If it weren't for the tacky rubbish it'd be an interesting little harbour though. A big hill and a castle and we've got a setting for an outpost at the edge of civilised lands - sounds good!

- Stewart Island, New Zealand. "Go to New Zealand. Head south to the end of South Island. On the road from Invercargill to Bluff is a ferry, which will take you 17 km south to Stewart Island." Following these instructions lead me to what the hostel manager in Invercargill claimed was the southernmost pub in the world. He may be right, but only because he's not counting any cantinas in Tierra Del Fuego as pubs, as is his right. South is onlt Antarctica[1]

Bluff is also an End of the Earth in that it has one of those signposts to everywhere and a novelty sculpture, in this case a big anchor chain to stop South island drifting away.

[1] In the Southland museum in Invercargill I learned about the sub-antarctic islands, which have no permanant inhabitants. One set of them was on the route from Australia to Cape Horn, and unsurprisingly people kept getting shipwrecked on them. In order to help them out the put sheep on the island, which lead to it becoming a nice closely trimmed lawn, and incidnetally wiping out most of the bird life. What with improvements in navigations and communication, the sheep have been removed[2] allowing the island's ecosystem to begin recovery.
[2] Well, some were removed as some of the characteristics they'd developed were of interest. The rest were shot.
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