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Bohemia on the mountainside
journal contributionposted on 01.11.2021, 03:21 authored by Ann-Marie PriestAnn-Marie Priest
In the early 1950s, the writer Hal Porter, then in his early forties, lived for a couple of years in the Tasmanian village of Fern Tree, halfway up kunanyi (then known as Mount Wellington). The scattered settlement was home, he would later write, to 'a community of city-eschewers and suburb-disdainers', 'escapees from what they call The Rat Race'. These proto-hippies favoured 'cabin-like weatherboard houses of singular unsightliness set, with a view to views, in what much resemble the crude clearings of early settlers'. Undeterred by 'built-in snowstorms, visiting bushfires, and resident soggy clouds', Fern Tree's residents showed a decided partiality for 'flagons of claret, political leftism, bellicose pacifism, the taking up of crazes and causes: palmistry, immorality, astrology, starving children (far-off and coloured), air-conditioned cells and caviar for criminals, preservation of murderers, carte blanche for abortionists'.