Field Guide to Falling in Love in Tasmania

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  • Two Accounts of Marion Bay

    Two Accounts of Marion Bay

    At the turn of the New Year, thousands of revellers can be found at Marion Bay, on Tasmania’s south-east coast, for a music-and-arts festival called Falls Festival. I haven’t been there for a few years. It was the end of the decade: in the lengthening evening, Grizzly Bear played, and a teenage girl from a Catholic school in Hobart, drunk on gin, put her head wearily on my shoulders. The bay gleamed beyond the stage, replete with small and bothersome jellyfish. As the last minutes of 2009 unravelled, lightning crackled over the water. A deluge of silver rain was unleashed, briefly. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs played in the new calendar.

    In 1772, the French explorer Marion Dufresne became the second French captain to bring his ships to Terres Australes. He landed in a bay in the south-east of Van Diemen’s Land. In an attempt to make a good impression on the natives, Dufresne made a strange mandate for his crew. He made them strip naked before going ashore. They were the first Europeans to meet the indigenous people of Van Diemen’s Land. A flurry of spears greeted them: but they survived nevertheless. However, the good captain was killed and eaten by the Maori of New Zealand shortly after.