Photo of people disembarking plane

That First Breath of Air

Oct 25

You’ve just visited Beijing or Melbourne or London or Paris. It’s been wonderful but as your flight home nears its end, you see the long stretch of sand at Seven Mile Beach from the air, and you begin anticipating something.

The aeroplane door opens, you make your way to the door and you step out into air you can almost taste.

“Even when the wind is howling and it’s raining sideways I love it,” one of you said.

Another of you went further, saying “If the airport expands and they build a proper bridge from planes to the building I’d miss going down those silly stairs.”

Like almost every other Hobart ritual, it’s a mixture of the beautiful and the gritty, the sublime and the imperfect.

Our fresh air and natural environment were things you universally valued. Yet you expressed some scepticism about our “clean and green” image. Cape Grim has the cleanest air in the world but, among cities, Hobart isn’t in the top ten.

“Let me tell you, when you’re walking down Macquarie Street in the middle of the day it’s the farthest thing from clean and green,” one of you said.

Another of you commented on the Hobart rivulet. “The fresh water – It’s why Hobart is where it is. But then we built tanneries and breweries all the way along it.”  There are plenty of environmental contradictions, in the defining industries of our past and present.

Clean air and water matter to you, no matter where you fit on any ideological spectrum. You think it’s a part of what makes Hobart Hobart, and you want to do more — as citizens. Many of you want to start by reducing vehicle emissions in Hobart, even to reduce the number of cars on the road.

It isn’t an unachievable goal. Like everything else, it just requires some personal sacrifice, some smart regulations, and some risk taking.

Many of your Hobart rituals involved nature: the water, the mountain, a walk somewhere mysterious and all yours. Even those involving cars have a natural element, like driving up the mountain on a cold day, picking up a bunch of snow, and building a snowman on your car — only to have him melt and crumble on the way down.

Does your “Only in Hobart” ritual involve nature? What is it?