Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Caroline's Visit

Caroline's visiting.

You may recall that near-constant downpours accompanied her last visit. LK and I started calling it  "Caroline Weather". Fortunately we haven't need to use the phrase too often because, well, we don't have Caroline Weather very often.

Friday afternoon here was hot and sunny, a lovely summer day. Then around 6pm clouds rolled in, winds whipped up, the sun disappeared and a downpour commenced. Caroline was in the air heading back to Hobart, and it was time to pick her up.

Coincidence? You will have to decide for yourself. But before you assume that Caroline always triggers atmospheric disturbances when she heads south, I have to tell you that Sunday was glorious. The sun shone all day, and we took the opportunity to do some sightseeing around here.

And Monday - with clouds filling the sky but rain staying away - we piled into the car and drove about an hour and a half to Port Arthur. This is a favorite stop for Hobart tourists, It is one of Australia's most famous prisons, a place where the really difficult convicts were sent. It was open for about 45 years in the mid 19th Century. And, in a statement that must say a lot about the Australian mentality both then and now, no sooner had it closed down than it became a hot tourist attraction. As it remains to this day.

It's easy to see why it is so popular. Sitting in a picturesque bay on the Tasman Peninsula, the setting is beautiful. And as you can see, there were even a couple of really hot women hanging around as well.

LK took quite a few pictures, and you can check them out at our Shutterfly share site.

Actually it is quite disconcerting to walk around the grounds. The gardens and landscaping are beautiful, and the buildings that are still standing are well maintained and prettily painted. They are in stark contrast to how horrible the place has been both in the past and in modern times.

150 years ago the prisoners at Port Arthur were subject to cruelty that is shocking today as we have evolved to believe that incarcerating people is punishment enough and whippings, double-weight leg chains and sensory isolation are torture. It's even more shocking when you remember that many of the prisoners were sent to Port Arthur for 19th Century crimes so petty by our standards that they would not even be prosecuted today.

And for most of us in Oz, the history of Port Arthur will always be overshadowed by our worst mass murder which happened when a madman came here in 1996. If anything good can come out of such horror, it was that Australians decided to get serious about gun control in the aftermath of the massacre.

It is a real mental juggling act to recall the evils of Port Arthur while appreciating the natural beauty of the place. It is an interesting day out, but ultimately a sobering one.

Tuesday and Wednesday saw the return of Caroline Weather. Fog, drizzle, and cold gave us plenty of excuses to laze around the house watching old movies and eating comfort food.

Caroline flies home tonight. Now where did I put my sunglasses?

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