Australia. The other side of the world. A land of sunshine, kangaroos and Neighbours. A huge country that British Backpackers go in their droves to have an adventure. Yet a place that Australian backpackers leave in their droves to come to London and work in a bar instead.
Australia has always fascinated me, but until the wonderful Ruth from DorkyMum came into my life I thought it was a place that I was happy to miss out on. I’d been to New Zealand, which seemed much more my kind of place. How the last few years have changed that.
When Ruth and her family moved to Tasmania it opened my eyes to a whole new part of Australia. An island that seemed to live a slightly different pace of life. I’ve known Ruth for years now online, and got to know her better in person when the family lived in Hertfordshire and DorkySon and Little Miss C would share playdates. I knew that the speed with which she fell in love with Tasmania meant it must be somewhere pretty damn special.
This means that Tasmania is now top of my list of places that I want to visit. I’m desperate to go and see the beaches that nine year old DorkySon is so keen to help preserve. I want to visit the food festivals that I see Ruth talking about on social media. I want to taste some of the delicious local food that her and her husband rave about. I want to see some of the amazing sunsets that I’ve seen her share on Instagram. To visit the museums and galleries that she’s taken DorkySon to.
LMC still talks about DorkySon on a regular basis, especially about how much she misses him, and I’d love for them to meet up again. I’d love to see how the years have changed them, but also I think strangely made them more alike. She still talks about him regularly and now that she’s such an independent writer I’d love to get her writing him proper snail mail letters again, much like I’ve recently started exchanging again with his mum.
Its would be wonderful for him to take her to the places in Tasmania that are special to him. To show her the places that he likes to go to when school is finished for the day. Where he most likes to explore on the weekend and in the school holidays.
More than anything else though I just want to explore the island. Breathe in the slower pace of life that seems to exist there and see what hidden island gems I can find for myself.
I’m thinking that going over with a completely open mind is the way to go. Buy return flights to Hobart and go armed with a guide book and some dreams. Head over to the local Gumtree site, buy a car that we can use for our adventure and just take to the road.
The East Coast of Tasmania on its own has a 220km costal drive and amazing beaches. The island’s unique wilderness is a UNESCO World Heritage Area and covers a fifth of the total area of the state. Tasmania’a convict heritage is also marked by UNESCO. In July 2010, UNESCO added 11 Australian convict sites to their World Heritage list, and five of these are in Tasmania. The sites are recognised as “the best surviving examples of large-scale convict transportation and the colonial expansion of European powers through the presence and labour of convicts”. I think it so important to understand a country’s history to appreciate its present.
Having been born in Sheffield, England, I’d also be keen to visit Tasmania’s version. Sheffield, Tasmania is described as a town of murals, making it the islands’s outdoor art gallery. This place that was once a Southern Hemisphere centre of industry has reinvented itself as an arts community and I’d love to see it in action.
Don’t get me wrong, if I’m going all that way (and especially if flying long haul with kids) I’m not only going to stay on Tasmania. There are plenty of places I’d like to see in mainland Australia too. Ayres Rock (as it was known when I did an Australia project at primary school – now obviously Uluru) has always fascinated me, and I also hold some strange desire to walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge too. I’m not that keen on heights, but it’s just always been one of those things that I’ve felt driven to do.
I’m always keen to find alternative ways to travel and I’m thinking that the Spirit of Tasmania might be the way to go. It’s a nine hour sailing between Melbourne and Devonport. That’s not so different from the recent trip we did in Europe between Harwich and the Hook of Holland and then we were saying how much we thought the kids would enjoy the adventure.
I think I’ve pretty much convinced myself. Now I just need to save up for the flights to get out there!