Sunday, March 22, 2020

Tasmania Day 3

It was Sunday. T cooked us nice bacon and eggs for breakfast and the four of us set forth on our mission. In 2016 our friend James, aka Jazzie died. I used to refer to him as Dame M's Boarder, which he was for about three decades. You can read about him here which I wrote after his funeral. Our mission was to have a look at the area where he grew up, which we thought was the north eastern Tasmanian town of Scottsdale. I am not sure why we thought that, but that is where we headed.

It was a nice little town and we a nice bakery lunch. I've managed to sort out these country bakeries that have great food but lousy coffee. Instead of a long black, I ask for a double espresso and it is ok. This an email James' sister sent to A when we planned the Tasmanian visit.

Howdy to you. That's a tough one trying to describe our home town. Not sure if it's  an adventure or expedition. We  lived in Royal George. ( one horse town). 1.1/2 hours from Launceston.  Turn off the Midlands Highway at Conara head east. Keep going to Avoca.  In the centre of Avoca turn right, opposite general store. Follow road right through to Royal George. From Avoca end ) our home is the last one on the right.   Our Gran lived at Merrywood.  To find that place although it was pulled down many years ago.  Go past our house and keep travelling east until you come to a T intersection turn left. May have Merrywood on sign??   Travel up that road on the left side until you run out of road and find two locked gates. That's Merrywood just under the brow of a mountain.  Don't trespass as I don't trust the locals, law unto their selves.  Happy travels.

The day before I must have mentioned something about driving and T said she would drive if I wanted. She is normally competent at whatever she does so I said yes. I suppose there must be some bad dyke drivers, but I have never come across one and she was no exception. We didn't quite realise the distances involved. Had we have gone directly from Launceston, it would have not have been such a long day, but the timing turned out to be fortuitous.

I think we travelled from Scottsdale over Mount Victoria to Avoca with about twenty kilometres of well graded gravel road. My god, was our car a mess, with dust everywhere on the outside added to embedded dead splattered insects on the front and then a shower of rain making things a whole lot worse. Our car is for the city and motorways, not country roads. From Avoca it was not too far to Royal George where we paused to look at James' family home. A  young man came out from a house to enquire about our presence. He was satisfied with our answer and returned inside and the bush telegraph promptly went to work.

James' siblings numbered many and he was sent to live with his grandmother a bit out of the one horse town in a place called Merrywood. He loved his grandmother more than his mother and she taught him how to sew, cook and all those things boys weren't supposed to learn back in the 1950s.

Once back at T's place, which didn't take too long on the major north south highway, A called James' sister who lives here in Victoria and they spoke for about an hour. In isolated and country areas of Tasmania, incest was common. James' sister had to fight off her brothers at times along with other relatives. She said that James was abused and humiliated by his youngest brother and raped a number of times by family members and townfolk, and yet he used to go up to a mine in the steep hills above to perve on men.

We stopped at this lookout area that had great views.






I can't remember where these chainsaw carved sculptures were.


Impressive.



Scottsdale.


Avoca I think, where we had a toilet stop. The kiln was for what? Brickmaking?


As per James' sister's email, here are the locked gates. The farmer owner of the land was there just entering his land via another gate. Of course on a dead end road two old gay men, a dyke and a glam hairdresser rather caught his attention. He was very knowledgeable about James' family and filled us in with many details. While a local, he was educated in Melbourne at I expect a boarding school. It showed not by his appearance but by the way he spoke.


Under this dominate tree was James' grandmother's house where he grew up. A shed and an outside lavatory remain.


This is where James went to school, long gone but A went for a walk and saw what she thought were concrete toilet pit covers. It was a long way to walk to school for James. His secondary education was in Avoca.


As I said earlier, the bush telegraph had been busy and just as we were to leave, up drove James' youngest brother, who would not come to James' funeral. S was drunk and driving. He was cautious until he knew A was not Cynthia. We have no idea who Cynthia is. A is charming and soon had him in her hand and even took a selfie with him. S had a can of beer between his legs and swigged away. As the Papua New Guinea Catholic nuns answered when they were asked about them handing out contraceptive products, they replied we are a long way from Rome, and so the police are a long way from Merrywood to police drink driving.

We did get some information from S and if you think of the old movie Deliverance and the hillbillies, you will be close to what S was like, including gapped teeth, perhaps a product of earlier day incest.

James' mother and grandmother died just two years apart and his close friend A did not know. We found out names and I insisted A write them down as we left. It is so easy to forget.

Before the click of loading shotguns was heard (ok, exaggerating), we high tailed back to the civilised Launceston and went straight for a fine but another expensive dinner at the Chinese restaurant Dynasty. You get what you pay for and we paid big but good value. The interior was amazing.

20 comments:

  1. What James went through is unimaginable to my privileged self. I am so glad that he found sanctuary elsewhere.
    And what a beautiful area he lived in. Appearances most definitely deceive.

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    1. EC, he rose above it. His last costuming work was for the movie Man from Snowy River.

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  2. That is quite the shocking paragraph inserted in the middle of your post. I feel for James and others like him in isolated communities everywhere. It must be hard to overcome that and I doubt anyone truly does.

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    1. Jenny, there is a joke about rural Tasmanians having two heads because of interbreeding. I think James did overcome his upbringing.

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  3. You wrote that in isolated and country areas of Tasmania, incest was common. I remember in the 1950s and 60s, people said Tasmanians married their siblings and first cousins because the towns were too isolated. But I thought that was a nasty joke at Tasmania's expense.

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    1. Hels, I never thought about it much, but it seems it is quite true, perhaps aside from marriage.

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  4. There a town of Scottsdale Arizona here, and for something in Southwest part of United States I hear it fairly high in Altitude

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    1. Opps I just looked it up, not that high

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    2. Dora, I think the Scottsdale we were in was quite high up.

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  5. Ledgerwood Carved Memorial Trees, so Ledgerwood is where those carvings are Andrew.
    You had me laughing re your descriptions, and so true I'm sure of the shenanigans of that place.

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    1. Margaret, Ledgerwood rings a bell. Same tree carver as at Low Head? We just saw them and stopped. There is no need for you to ever caravan to Royal George or Merrywood. No turning space at Merrywood either.

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  6. I've heard the stories about Tasmania from too many people to not believe them. So sad and after several generations of this the current crop of family members are often "not the full quid" I know a couple personally who are below average intelligence, one is a drunk, the other a drug addict.

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    1. Interesting River and may explain my eternally asked question, why is the literacy rate so low in Tasmania? While our friend James had full schooling, he was embarrassed by his lack of writing skills, even though in his last job he was a TAFE techer.

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  7. You take such amazing stories and tell the best stories to go along with them. Almost like being right there beside you. Hugs, RO

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    1. A nice compliment RO. Thanks.

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  8. The chainsaw sculptures are wonderful.

    Beautiful little island, Tasmania. Some strange stories have emanated from it. In some instances, "Deliverance" comes to mind!! I shall say no more.

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    1. Lee, some pretty bad things happened there but nevertheless it is our great island state.

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    2. I agree, Andrew.

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  9. Lovely views and amazing tree sculptures Andrew and as always a few moments of choking on my cup of tea, I should be prepared for your 'colourful' dialogue by now, love it 😀

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  10. That should be 'colourful' observations 😀😀😀

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