Black Swan Lake, Tasmania.

Just as well Geoff was driving from Port Arthur to Devonport. As I kept spotting all sorts out the window forcing photo stops galore, we needed a driver with their eyes fixed on the road.That was never going to be me!

I’d also argue that we needed a dedicated lookout as well. Not just to keep an eye out for photo opportunities and darting wildlife, but for us all to fully appreciate the journey as well as the destination.

To be perfectly honest, it wasn’t long after our last photo stop when I spotted this dam dotted with black swans. Coming from Sydney where I’ve never seen a wild swan of either sort, seeing so many black swans all at once was a definite thrill. So, this apparition was definitely worth stopping for.

Like so many things Down Under, things seen to be the reverse of what’s in Europe and the Black Swan was only another example. Indeed, for Europeans, finding the black swan was akin to finding the mythical unicorn.

You see, the black swan had long been used as a metaphor in mythology, referring to something which doesn’t exist. In AD 82, the Roman satirist Juvenal wrote in  of rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cygno (“a rare bird in the lands, and very like a black swan”).[6] He meant something whose rarity would compare with that of a black swan, or in other words, as a black swan did not exist, neither did the supposed characteristics of the “rare bird” with which it was being compared. The phrase passed into several European languages as a popular proverb, including English, in which the first four words (“a rare bird in the land”) are often used ironically. For some 1500 years, the black swan existed in the European imagination as a metaphor for that which could not exist.

In 1697, The Dutch explorer Willem de Vlamingh made the first European record of sighting a black swan, when he sailed into, and named, the Swan River on the western coast of New Holland. The sighting was significant in Europe, where “all swans are white” had long been used as a standard example of a well-known truth.


Black Swan I’d photographed earlier at Deloraine.

Governor Phillip, soon after establishing the convict settlement some sixty years later and 3,000 kilometres (1,900 mi) away at Botany Bay on the east coast, wrote in 1789 that “A black swan, which species, though proverbially rare in other parts of the world, is here by no means uncommon … a very noble bird, larger than the common swan, and equally beautiful in form … its wings were edged with white: the bill was tinged with red.”[7]

Taking black swans to Europe in the 18th and early 19th centuries, brought the birds into contact with another aspect of European mythology: the attribution of sinister relationships between the devil and black-coloured animals, such as a black cat. Black swans were considered to be a witch’s familiar and often chased away or killed by superstitious folk. Indeed, in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, the sinister and seductive black swan, Odile, is contrasted with the innocent white swan, Odette.

As I’ve mentioned before, Geoff is Tasmanian and grew up with a “pet” swan at home for some years. I’m not sure of the exact story but I think Charlie was an ophan swan who adopted Geoff’s mum. Charlie used to make himself quite at home, coming into the house for food.

Anyway, I thought you’d appreciate seeing so many black swans in one spot and what a thrill it was for us. I hope you might get the opportunity to experience it yourself one day.

xx Rowena


4 thoughts on “Black Swan Lake, Tasmania.

  1. The Showers of Blessing

    That black swan is beautiful. I don’t want to think about the black swan in Swan Lake though, because I like the princess who got turned into a white swan. Well, nice meeting you. We went to Australia several years ago. We went from Sydney to Caine. My husband was born in Australia. I glanced you categories, you listed chemotherapy and chronic illness. I need to read more of your posts. I went through a harsh chemo for my cancer. Anyways, I hope we can make connection. I’ll follow, and hope that you would visit my blog.

  2. Rowena Post author

    Hi Mirium,
    I’m so glad we’ve hooked up as we seem to have a lot in common…in addition to the chemo.
    I have a severe auto-immune disease called dermatomyositis. I’ve been in remission for 3 years as I’ve gone on a new drug and it seems to be working.
    I have also done ceramic painting, although you won’t find that on the blog, which is a pity in a way. I used to live next door to a ceramics studio and we moved and that greenware is so fragile and there wasn’t a kiln nearby. I also had a stint of doing painting with bright acrylics but got put off by the mess and it was also very nerve-wracking trying to find somewhere for my paintings to dry. The paint was so thick and our house is a disaster zone. Anyway, photography is my first love and you can’t do everything.
    How long ago did you have your cancer? How are you going now? I hope you are going well. I don’t know about you but I haven’t been the same since my chemo. I had quite bad chemo brain for awhile but my priorities changed. I feel like I went through a seismic shift and I never came back out. I don’t know if that’s good, bad or just different but there’s a definitely line in the sand. I’ve also cut my prednisone back a lot and that could also explain this new sense of calm. I have been on pretty high doses at times and this is a form of steriod so nit really winds you up.
    Anyway, I popped round to your blog and am now following you.
    xx Rowena

  3. The Showers of Blessing

    I started blogging about my chemo journey under “Gratitude Moments.” I made seven posts so far and it only covers up to 2 cycles of treatments and a surgery, halfway through. I’m in remission for 7 years but I’m living in a new normal – I made a post “New Normal.” I have nerve damage of my legs and feet. Did years of PT, daily massage, it seems to heal a little, but still has numbness and tingling. I tried to cut down all the med, but I’m forming a habit of one which I am taking the lowest dose possible. I found out that as I am getting older, my liver doesn’t process the med too well and had elevate enzyme. The one med is to calm my nerve and tingling so that I could sleep. My blood work looks okay, so I just leave it like that. I had other surgeries, allergy, but I try to do as much as I could. I get up around 9am, so most of my activities are in pm. Thanks for the follow. I’ll read more of you blog to know more of your situations. xx 🙂 🙂

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