Everything in Tasmania is about beauty of the scenery, excellence of the fresh food and wonderful experiences. Now there is a book club in Hobart I had no idea about. I saw a flyer for it a couple of months back on the notice board at Fuller’s Book Shop.
I saw the poster, read the book at the time...The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman. I was geared up to attend the Sunday meeting in a large reserve nearby and then something came up and I missed it. The next month came along and I was overseas. I was determined to get to the October meeting.
This is their facebook page in case anyone would like to follow. Bushcare Walking Book Club – City of Hobart, Tasmania at https://www.facebook.com/groups/159587037917696/.
Okay, I’ll now explain. This book club is an initiative of the Hobart City Council. Nicole, who works for the HCC organises it. She works in the area of Bush Care. You know, getting rid of noxious weeds, replanting and reinvigorating areas of neglect. It is a very ‘greenie’ department. Each month she assigns us a book about the Environment. When I saw the flyer about the Genius of Birds I thought I would see what it was about. I love birds. I downloaded the book on audible and thoroughly enjoyed it. I learned more about birds than I ever thought I would. Their intelligence and habits are both amazing and endearing. Such bright creatures. If you love reading about birds then this is a great little book.
Before I left for the United States in September I downloaded the book Feral by George Monbiot, an author from the United Kingdom.
According to Wikipedia: “Feral is a book about rewilding by the British environmentalist George Monbiot. It was published by Allen Lane (a hardback imprint of the Penguin Group) in 2013 with the full title Feral: Searching for Enchantment on the Frontiers of Rewilding. The book has also been published as Feral: rewilding the land, sea and human life (paperback and American editions).
Monbiot looks at rewilding projects around the world. However, he pays particular attention to the scope for rewilding in the United Kingdom. He argues that overgrazing is a problem in the British uplands and calls for sheep numbers to be reduced so that areas can be rewilded. Such ideas received criticism from organisations representing farmers, for example the Farmers’ Union of Wales. On the other hand, the book received favourable reviews, including in publications normally hostile to Monbiot’s work, such as The Spectator and The Daily Telegraph. Many reviewers were impressed by the lyrical nature of the book’s prose style. According to the New Statesman‘s reviewer “something about the charm and persistence of Monbiot’s argument has the hypnotic effect of a stoat beguiling a hapless rabbit.”
I didn’t think I would find this book of essays very interesting but I have to say I really did. The issues he brought up were fascinating. He talked a lot about the environmental rewilding projects mainly in Europe but he also touched on Africa and the United States. I don’t remember there being any Australian content.
The format of the book group is also fun and interesting. A beautiful location is picked in the Hobart area. One month it was on Mt. Wellington trails. One month is was in a large reserve near a water catchment area where they are picnic facilities and much birdlife.
October had us walking along the shore of Sandy Bay beach which borders the River Derwent. We meet on the first Sunday afternoon of the month from 2:00 pm 4:30 pm. In the past approximately five or six people turned up but this month we had 18! We had 13 women, three men and one child about ten or eleven. He attended with his mother.
We all introduced ourselves at the beginning in the carpark area. We had to tell everyone our name and our favourite Tasmanian animal. (How do you choose that?)
Then we began our walk about 20 minutes along the beach. There were lots of families on the beach and on the adjoining playground. Many were enjoying a swim or a picnic. The day was a beautiful warm day. It’s springtime here.
When we first stopped, Nicole asked us some questions about the book. A discussion then pursued about environmental issues in our locale. We talked for about 15 or 20 minutes. We then walked on. Small groups that had formed on the first leg of the walk chatted and then the groups changed once we began the second leg of the walk.
When we stopped the second time, maybe another 20 minutes down the beach, we all sat in a circle in the sand or on rocks and chatted again. Some people drank from the water bottle or pulled a snack from their bag. We continued to talk about the issues raised in the book and also about who we are and what our interests are within smaller groups. We were probably at that location 2o to 30 minutes. The time went so fast it is hard to estimate how long we were there.
We then turned around and did a very long walk back the way we had come and beyond. We seemed to walk quite a distance and it was becoming very warm.
At the last stop, Nicole produced a large container of hot water, coffee, various teas and lots of biscuits (cookies), even catering for any vegans that may appear.
This saw our conversations with new found friends to be much more social and personal. We talked about various books and experiences we have had. Nicole wants us to think of other books about the environment we could read for this group. So far most books have been non fiction. But the November book will be Death of a River Guide by Richard Flanagan who is purely Tasmanian and a Booker Prize winner (The Narrow Road to the Deep North). Death of a River Guide is a much earlier work of his and refers to the Franklin River dam dispute that began the Greens movement in Tasmania in the late 1970’s.
The Franklin Dam or Gordon-below-Franklin Dam project was a proposed dam on the Gordon River in southern Tasmania. The government wanted to build a dam for the hydro electricity it would provide but it is in a wilderness area of UNESCA heritage listing and it never happened. The protests were large, loud and often violent. It was the most significant environmental campaign in Australian history and the beginning of the Greens Political movement.
But back to the book group…..After a walk of about 3.5 kms and 2 1/2 hours of walking and book discussion our friendly group returned to the carpark to get their rides back home.
It was a delightful way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Next month we will be near the foothills of Mt. Wellington again, I presume on a bush trail and I look forward to it very much.
Here are more photos of our environment for the day. I know…..very nice.