While those of us on the top half of our planet are awaiting our summer months, the southern hemisphere is preparing for winter. Perhaps nowhere on the planet is winter welcomed in such a macabre way as in Tasmania, the Australian island state with a dark and gothic history.

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In the 19th centaury, Victorian gothic art and literature was all the rage. The criminal colonies, the isolated aboriginals of the island and thick rainforest was an even darker backdrop for the style. Mixing real life events such as cannibalism, genocide, over zealous religious reformers, and Britain’s criminal inhabitance there was no shortage of dark material to draw from.

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Today the Tasmanians still celebrate this gothic tradition. Which culminates in an 11 day festival called Dark MOFO a festival of death and darkness. The festival is art installations, performance art, fire dancers, costumes, food and 100s of Heavy metal and Goth music groups. The finally is a group nude swim into the Derwent River where the temperature is around 10c swimmers are encouraged to stay at least 2 minutes in the frigid water. Painful as you also must exit the water and face the ogles of the spectators still totally nude.

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