Agony of Cider Gums

An agony of Cider Gums

On the approach to Miena from Poatina, and before the sullen brown Shannon Lagoon, is an agony of cider gums, silent contortions of twisting sculptures scraping the cold Highland skies.

They are silhouettes of excruciating pain, bleached silvery grey, deathly hues in an eerie dun coloured fields rising from a brown lagoon once renowned for a legendary caddis moth hatch.

The fly fishers talk of that phenomenal hatch in awe of the crazy abundance up here in the Central Highlands of Tasmania.

The Shannon is a name that evokes such excess, and even now the caddis hover in flutes above the nearby scrub by the shores of the Great Lake at Tods Corner. I’ve seen the moth clouds hang and pulse with an urgency and I try to imagine the sights of lore, Shannon lore when the cider gums were alive.

The Shannon declined with its moth congregations and the cider gums are resigning en-mass.

On approach to Miena opposite the lagoon stands the lonely sentinel tree beside the road. It has been savaged by the weather, cut by the road patrols, and burnt, yet it stands photogenic, stoically firm to commemorate eons of passing time, captured by passing fly fishers who stop to click its stark immobility for preservation in their plastic albums of cryovac trout fishing memento.

On the approach to Miena you too can pause for that sense of time stretching backwards to ancient moments before the arrival of white man, hydro schemes and change.

Witness the terminal cry of cider gums that scream, scratch and scrape at the lowering skies above the lagoon in mute abstract expressionistic twists, a gathering of gumtrees, its collective agony muffled by the cold clinging mists rising off the Shannon.

Ancient Central Plateau – first impressions

I stand in the middle of the road, motionless, blinking at the brilliance of the surroundings.

There is a blazing sun in a vast hot sky. It’s punishing me.

On every side stretches a great heath on red burnt sienna sand. Here is spread the big boulders in fields that are not quite of this world.

There are mountains in the distance. Southwestwards of the road lie pale-brown coloured tiered walls faintly glazed with blue and magenta purple. They rise up out of the heath, hanging in a pale glassiness of the heat touching the sky.

These highland mountains in their immense faraway indiscernible closeness are an illusion of immeasurable fading of the toughest terrain.

The stillness is overpowering. It presents me with unexpected feelings of aloneness, here in the middle of the road through a grand otherworldly landscape. It’s as though I were on another planet altogether.

My ethnic arrogance takes a hit, as I feel quite insignificant. To think the fly fishers want this sight on canvas and in print. It must be an affliction of madness.

And yet they come to this place, fisher folk of the world who are touched by the remoteness of these Tasmanian Highland lakes and tarns and stream and rivulets in an enormity of loneliness.

I have come too, to illustrate this bleached and harsh dun-coloured place.

With a final squint without Polaroid glasses I climb aboard my vehicle to continue exploration. The wrap-around Polaroid shades are worn by sporting fly fishers, a supplementary component that improves capability of spotting fish in reflective water high up on hot blue-sky days.

The Polaroids soon influence my art by varying the colour of the Highland spectacle.

Pieter Zaadstra 2004

Open Content Menu:

Comments are closed