The Bluebird Café
"The Bluebird Café steps into the Tasmanian wilderness. Do vestiges of lost tribes and species flicker in the horizontal forest? Does the forest itself suck small children in and swallow them forever? What happened to Lovelygod, the daughter of Carillo and Bedrock Mean?"
The best way to get a good view of the Historic Museum Village of Copperfield is to hire a Fly-By-Nite helicopter. From the night sky you see that Copperfield is covered by a gigantic glass dome through which shine the millions of lights that line the edges and decorate the surfaces of the buildings. People who have seen an oil refinery at night nearly always say Coppeffield looks like an oil refinery trapped under glass. Or is that plastic, they say. It must be plastic. They see a monstrous dome, like a snow dome in which the models of people have come to life and where trees and flowers really grow. The surface of the dome is cleaned inside and out every morning by a system of detergent jets and hot-water hoses and fans. The ventilation system of the dome has been described as the ultimate miracle of modern engineering.
Coppeffield is on top of Cataract Hill which overlooks the Gorge where the South Esk meets the North Esk to form the Tamar River at the city of Launceston in northern Tasmania. The Gorge is a huge rift between cliffs of black volcanic rock. The sides of the rift are almost vertical, and between them, four hundred feet below, the water froths across a barrier of rock, forming a cataract. In former times Cataract Hill was occupied by a suburb called Trevallyn where steep streets wound through a forest of English and Tasmanian trees and where prosperous families lived in large houses made from timber and stone. The timber houses were tall and rambling and decorated with verandahs and fretwork: the stone houses were built from blocks of golden sandstone and resembled Georgian dolls' houses. The suburb of Trevallyn had to be removed to make way for Copperfield.
From the McPhee Gribble paperback edition, 1990.
This novel was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award in 1990.
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Last modified: January 7, 2005.