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EAGLE HAWK NECK

Posted on March 25, 2012 by
Raymond
on the road at
Eagle Hawk Neck - Tasmania
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Eagle Hawk Neck is a narrow isthmus that separates the Port Arthur Penal Settlement from the rest of Tasmania. To an escaping convict it was a hundred metre barrier called the Dog Line where a collection of bull mastiffs and assorted mongrels spent their lives in chains, ready and willing to rip apart any escapee brave or desperate enough to attempt a crossing.

Eagle Hawk Neck is a magical place where squares of rock [or tessellated pavements] extend out from the coast like a chess board for giants.

Eagle Hawk Neck is Tasmania, where a savage history connects with extraordinary beauty.

Eagle Hawk Neck is also where our recent CHOIR TASMANIA stayed for two nights in the quirky Lufra Hotel which modestly proclaims itself as the "Hotel with the Best View in the World."

I have run a number of trips into Tasmania over the past decade or so. Indeed the very first extended walk I led was the Overland Track. That in turn had been the first long walk I'd undertaken as a young man. I stopped at Narcissus Hut for a week and read Lord of the Rings. Those were the days.

For five years I reprised that experience deep in the Tarkine Wilderness with a group of writers. Amongst giant gums and myrtle forests, remnants of the super continent of Gondwanaland, the New Year was welcomed in silence.

Tasmania has always worked its magic on me. On this latest trip it was much deeper, begging the question: why did I leave with such a powerful sense of the place? It's the choir I think.

Most travel simply looks at stuff. There might be a second to ponder the brutality of Port Arthur or the splendor of Mt Wellington but rarely is there an environment that allows for more than superficial appreciation.

Singing slows down time as it fast-tracks perception. Twenty minutes spent singing amongst giant ferns changes the nature of travel. Belting out a cappella gospel to an unsuspecting audience overlooking Wine Glass Bay offers something beyond looking. It becomes a communal celebration of the beauty.

Shine performed in the gardens of Port Arthur where Martin Bryant slaughtered 35 people in cold blood is at least an offering to the victims.

Blackbird sung in a sea cave at the base of three hundred metre cliffs quietens the soul long enough to feel the water lapping at the side of the boat.

The notes of a choir hold each voice within them. When that single voice resonates with the natural environment; it holds the sadness, the beauty, the insanity and the hope of that place as well.

I noticed something as I walked alone around Port Arthur. People didn't make eye contact as I passed. Perhaps a veiled nod but no more. Probably we now understand enough about ourselves to know that the insanity that existed in places like this is our insanity, not their insanity, whoever they may be. A Choir allows people to look at each other and impart those communal fears into one voice.

I had never thought a week anywhere could compare with the intensity of Central Australia. Especially given room service and comfortable beds replaced stars and Arrernte families around a campfire at night. This trip did, meaning that travel can be authentic AND luxurious. Until now I had never really believed that.

By nature the people attracted to walk and sing with others are communal souls. They seek to be part of something that is bigger than themselves.

Thank you to last weeks singers. Come and sing again some time.

Raymond

Ps. As each cloud has a silver lining, each DOG LINE has a funny story. In one case, the convict Billy Hunt disguised himself as a kangaroo and attempted to hop across the Neck. His plan was brought to a sudden halt when one of the soldiers decided to shoot the large boomer. Billy was forced to reveal his true identity.

 

Comments
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Cecilia
Reply
I see familiar faces! Jill, Annie, Robert and, of course, Tony! :-)Great to read that you had such a wonderful time in Tassie! I was tempted to make a last-minute booking but other, more urgent, things came up and it was better that I stayed home. See you in June in Central Australia!
Raymond
Reply
We all would have loved that. It was a very very beautiful sing. C u on the Desert Choir Rxx
Sandra Kanck
Reply
Please let us know how the name of this choir came up. A list of all of them thus far since the first in 2008 would be fun [if of course you can remember them - I know age is a problem Abraham, 900 years an all that ;-)].
Raymond
Reply
Just to explain. Sandra calls me Abraham because she thinks I have hidden depths. She was also a Senator in a previous life so she CAN'T be wrong. Re the names: our first was Tony Backhouse & the Corrugations which was because of the outback roads. The next two Ill have to find out. This one was Tony Backhouse and the Divine Deviations for reasons best known to whoever thought of it. Rosie I think. We were having a discussion around deviance at the time I think.
Anne Looby
Reply
Raymond - you have articulated our week so beautifully. Thank you....and Tony and all my fellow choristers - what a gift. I am going to print this and frame it. Just bloody brilliant. Ax
Raymond
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Thanks Annie. I first found this line of thought when I was on the Desert Choir last year. The Kiwis were singing something extraordinary. It was a sound that accepted the full scale of my grief from my father's death, like a secret sharing in song that people understood. Just knowing it was a universal feeling allowed me to deal with it further. I found a similar thing on this last trip. Rxx
Jill Taylor
Reply
Raymond You certainly can write! This trip was an exceptional experience! I was an almost non singer but You, Tony and the sensitive choristers managed to blend me into the group. We united in full voice on Mt Wellington; I loved it. Add to that our wild sea adventure with dolphins, albatross, seals and fenzied fish moving,playing and laughing with us. What a blast!
Raymond
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Hi Jill. Its true about it being a wonderful trip but not that you can't sing. I heard your lovely voice. May you be the first to know. MY BOOK HAS BEEN PICKED UP BY A PUBLISHER. Yee Haa! Raymond xx
Sally
Reply
Raymond, it sounds as though you have a fabulous week. Good to see some familiar faces.. Good luck with the book.
Raymond
Reply
Hi Sally. Thank you. The week was amazing. Such a complex set of emotions woven into the program. Hope you are well. Raymond xx
Susan
Reply
Sounds extraordinary!
Raymond
Reply
Hi Susan. It really was. Like no trip to Tasmania before. The voices drew each soul into the sound and enriched everything. R
Rainer Huebner
Reply
What a wonderful time we all had. Thank you Raymond, thank you Tony and thank you all the wonderful beings and singers that made this trip so fantastic.
Raymond
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Thanks you Rainer & Shanti. For anyone reading this married couple have come over with their Taizť Choir for the past two years. They are extraordinarily generous people who share their music with a passion that inspires me and everyone else that hears them.
barbara knowles
Reply
I just can't fathom that so many of the lovely people from the central Australian experience of last year went off without me to Tasmania!I feel I so missed out with weak pretexts of busy life when it sounds that life was what happened to you over there.Count me in Raymond,(Raimo...remember me?)on next choir outing.I savor your experiences through your lively writing in the mean time...humming shine,shine sha...ine. Love garnished with cherished memories. Barbara
Raymond
Reply
Hi Barbara. Of course I remember you. Come along again this year or next. Raymond xx
Juliann Whimp
Reply
Reads like another extraordinary experience. Hello Tony + Kiwis, heartwarming to see your smiles again. Liz are they your own clothes? And congratulations Raymond on getting picked up. xx
Raymond
Reply
Hey Juliann. You were missed. Liz managed to not lose her clothes this time. I tell you. The Kiwis LOVED Tasmania. see you soon I hope. Rx
Helen
Reply
I am really taken by your observation that travel can be authentic and luxurious too. Like you, I tended to think one was more likely to find authenticity in travel by experiencing the simple elements, by stripping away the extraneous 'stuff' that seems to be obligatory in luxury travel. So, what is the authenticity that we seek? Is it more about being in the present? I lived the experience but can't come close to explaining the magic and brilliance of the Tony Backhouse choirs in the landscape. Something happens it's ineffable. Maybe it's alchemy.
Raymond
Reply
Actually it was all so gorgeous it was F-able. Only kiddin. Yep. It was way beyond physical stuff. Now you need to come and sing with us again me dear. c ya Raymond xx
Barbara
Reply
Raymond, I felt I was there reading your blog. Just beautiful. You sure know how to paint a picture. And what a picture.
Raymond
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Thanks Barb. Next time we will record the choir in some exotic place. Rx
Liz King
Reply
Thanks Raymond for putting together such a rich combination of experiences with time to enjoy the area and people that we sang and meet with. Thanks Tony for leading the singing and thanks to the Tara choir for all your beautiful singing on the bus and on route. ps Juliann I flew over in my favorite walking clothes this time just in case. Love from Liz
Raymond
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Hey Liz. Nicely put. I wondered why you arrived with walking boots and a stick. PS. Liz came on the Desert Choir and had all her luggage lost in transit for the first few days.
Trish
Reply
raymond, saw in yr reply to jill that you have a publisher. congratulations !!!. is that the work that started in the cemetary in newtown?(still thinking abt the ipurla. depends on health & fitness. is the july trip open to all or special fathers/sons?) loved yr insight about authenticity & luxury - the possibility of truth being everywhere. x
Raymond
Reply
Hey Trish. Yes that's the one. It is very exciting. I think mysticism, which might be what happens when voices are joined in places of incredible beauty, exists whether you are in a swag or a double bed that night. Its a good insight for me because there are so many places that the Electronic Swagman want to run trips. Hope you are well. July trip is open to everyone. c ya Raymond x
Cisco
Reply
Hi mate. Sounds like the Tas trip was another winner. I was a bit worried that they wouldn't let you out of the penal colony. Good to see the residant Psychiatrist is still up to his old tricks (So glad to be here!!). I'm pleased to hear that you have come to appreciate the wonderous benefits of luxury accomodation, I shall expect nothing less next time I find myself sharing some desert time with you. Keep up the good work. Give Tom a pat & a rub behind the ear, feel free to give yourself the same. Regards Cisco
Raymond
Reply
Hey Cisco. Yep. I am all for luxury now. I have taken to patting Tom behind the ear more. Robert was wonderful in Tasmania. Always good to have a psychiatrist handy when I am around. C ya Raymond
Shanti
Reply
Hi Raymond: A heart felt thank you for all the beauty that is still resonating inside of me, your care and your attention to detail. We sung together as a choir yesterday and our hearts were full (and yes, Doris was with us!). Feeling very blessed... until next time! xo Shanti
Raymond
Reply
Hi Shanti.. Hi to everyone. Off to the desert again next week. I'll say gidday to the Blackfellas from the Kiwis and let them know Doris is still there. Raymond xx
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