I flirt with every month but it is March I love. The Pipers River valley view is starting to green, summer laziness tires of itself, and the garden beckons to be nipped ‘n’ tucked up all over again, pert for winter. Suddenly you realise autumn’s circus has rolled into town, as the season’s traffic light starts to reverse from green through amber and red. The deciduous countryside reminds of England, France or Tuscany as much as Tasmania, but those who seek a native autumn will soon be rewarded by a special show. Certain things unique to Tasmania are also unique in the world. Like the leatherwood tree, the Tasmanian devil, and the migrating shearwater, the fagus – also known as deciduous beech – is Australia’s only cool-climate, winter-deciduous tree. You can see its startling colour in late April and May around Cradle Mountain and Mount Field. Scientists remind us that this small tenacious tree that thrives in alpine climes is as much a link to our ancient past as the solid rock that formed Gondawana. We islanders of the southern ocean are slow-lane learning to be most proud of what makes us different: turning the isolation of Bass Strait into a virtue. To lose its leaves is a tree’s defense against winter and the cold. And to stand and witness the changing beauty of the fagus is to know and feel virtue in adversity. Come, winter, bring it on! It’s what makes us truly Tasmanian – and the rest of Australia want to visit.
Featured in Country Style, March 2014