Thursday, 21 January 2010

Self Destruct

Originally uploaded by reuvenim
The news reported today of an outraged Devonport that's protesting against Lonely Planet describing it as "a mildly menacing place where speeding rednecks yell abuse at pedestrians" and as a place where "McDonald's drive-thru is the place to be on a Saturday night". Having never been to Devonport I am in no position to confirm or deny the above statements. However, having been to the Tasmania's Launceston area less than a month ago I do have a thing or two to say about Tasmania. Mostly about the contrasts involving this piece of land.
Let's start by stating that Tasmania is quite a beautiful place. It's a sort of a beginners' New Zealand, not as beautiful as the real thing but also much more accessible (at least to me, given my locality). What follows next is the tricky bit: it seems as if this natural beauty of Tasmania is tearing it apart.
On one hand, you have the people busy ripping everything they can off the land. You see it everywhere you go, the amount of effort spent on chopping down trees and on digging stuff out of the ground. On the other hand, you see people enjoying the natural beauty and making their living out of it, mostly through cultivating the tourism industry. You can see both sides as you drive along the Tamar river that flows through Launceston: the picturesque drive right along the river with wineries along the way, the coal mines around Beaconsfield, the huge piles of woodchips waiting to be exported at Bell Bay Port, and of course the proposed pulp mill at Beauty Point.
Another sad observation is to do with the locals' prospects. Most of the towns we've driven through, while set at some beautiful areas, seem to have their numerous bottle shops as their core of activity. Add to that the fact that my Optus mobile phone (Australia's second biggest cellular phone provider) never managed to acquire a 3G signal throughout our Tasmanian travels, even while at the center of Launceston (Tasmania's second biggest city), and you can see why I'm wondering whether Tasmania is stuck somewhere in the past with not much of a recovery chance.
Given that I am obviously on the green side of Tasmania's conflict, I tend to view its backwardness as a direct result of the local economy's reliance of pillaging natural treasures rather than investing in a future. And that's the trick: While I still reserve judgment, I am inclined to think that if Tasmania wants a future it should stop its suicidal self destruction.
The worst thought about it all is the lingering notion that Tasmania is just a mirror to Australia entire.

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