The conference was huge, with over 600 delegates. It opened at the Hobart City Hall last Sunday night. The mood was welcoming and mellow, but the political dialogue and the tensions around Indigenous issues in Australia always give the debate a very serious edge. The photo below shows Jim Everett on the left, a Tasmanian Aboriginal man who MCd the conference. He was later arrested at the weekend, along with his mate Michael Mansell, for demonstrating against some development that placed Aboriginal heritage sites at risk (big front page news in the Hobart newspapers!).
I loved the special insight we were given about Aboriginal culture in Tasmania at the Museum and Gallery. The history of the relationship of Tasmanian Aborigines and the colonisers is a violent and tragic one - and quite politically loaded since the incarceration of the last of the traditional people.
In amongst all the tragedy I loved seeing the fibre exhibition celebrating contemporary Aboriginal craftswomen's interpretation of traditional basket weaving techniques. Along with their beautiful shell necklace making it's more powerful evidence of the resilience of traditional Aboriginal culture and beliefs in Tasmania.
We left Hobart on Wednesday afternoon in our little hired Hyundai Getz for Strahan on Macquarie Harbour on the NW Coast. It was a 5 hour drive, along the gentle, green Derwent Valley north of Hobart, then the slow mountain roads of the Franklin-Gordon Wild Rivers National Park and the arid but brilliantly coloured moonscape/landscape around Queenstown, over 30km west of Strahan.
We arrived in time to walk around the inlet to Regatta Point and watch the sun set behind Strahan Village on Wednesday evening.
We left Cradle Mountain on Saturday morning in rather wild and stormy weather as we thanked our lucky stars we'd been able to time our visit so well in the previous day and a half. We headed East through isolated little hamlets, bypassing Launceston, stopping for a short while at the very retro Campbell Town before heading North East to the Freycinet National Park, around a four hour drive including stops.