HNY everybody! Oh, how the time flies and all that. Christmas is done, New Year has sparkled passed, it's all resolutions, diets and green juices now... Ugh, the horizon looks bleak from there.
It must be time to start planning a holiday! My feet are getting itchier with every passing day and only the email sitting in my inbox, reassuring me that our tickets to Kolkata are secured, gives them any relief.
But you will hear more about Kolkata later, after I have actually been there. Today I want to tell you about a place that I have found surprisingly difficult to write about. Van Diemen's Land, the Apple Isle, the island off an island... Tasmania. The island of my birth and a place I really only have good things to say about (unless you are a 'busy city' type of human- Tassie is probably somewhere you should avoid). I love Tasmania, and I don't know why I have struggled so much to put that love into coherent, interesting words.
Perhaps it is because when I think of Tassie, I remember the dog beach where we used to run in the freezing water with the best dog ever (because aren't all childhood dogs the Best Dog Ever's?), the hours spent climbing over sea-weedy rocks, sticking our fingers into those weird anemones that close over when you touch them, the little adventures we used to have, tramping in the bush with our salt and vinegar chips and juice for sustenance. I remember windy mountain roads and snow, endless beaches and story-book rain forests, and I remember wondering how many fairies lived in the rain forest, and if perhaps, one day, I too could live in the rain forest. And it is hard to bring other people into the magic of your childhood memories.
Those things are all still there (except the BDE), but as I have returned on visits, short and long, over the years that I haven't lived there, I have only added more draw cards to the pile. And these are the things I'll tell you about.
As the only area in Australia where I have spent substantial time, apart from good ol' South Aus, Tasmania will always be a place close to my heart. If I meet you and you ask where I am from, I will say Tasmania, then I will say 'you simply must visit'. It's a wonderfully beautiful place, filled with 'characters', artisan food, boutique alcoholliers (a thing, now) and literally breath-taking scenery (really, see how easy it is to breathe when you are standing on the edge of a sheer cliff, waves violently smashing into the rocks a hundred metres below you...).
I could go on and on about the beautiful island of my childhood, you would get sick of me telling you how great it is, and you'd probs stop listening. So quickly, I'll just mention the picture perfect coastline, full of cosy little free campsites. The local small batch cider houses, the FRESH seafood, the en pointe coffee. The sourdough doughnuts, the beautiful old buildings of the very pedestrian friendly city and the mountain that broods over it all.
It is a small place, definitely. It is a small place that seems to be a bit of a haven for oddballs. But it has also recently become quite a magnet for people who respect nature and love good food.
There's a totally weird museum, and if you go on a Sunday you can sit on beanbags in the sun and listen to musicians for free. The water's freezing but you can surf, and you can fish your days away. The city's harbour smiles out towards Antarctica and they make a mean pinot noir.
I should stop now, right? So I will. And I will leave you a list of favourites, just in case I have persuaded you.
Here are some of the places I liked on my last visit (in Hobart):
- The farmer's market just north of central Hobart. Filled with hand created delicious goodies (yes, the best doughnut I have ever eaten), fresh vegies and fruit and some young buskers rapping, dressed as Friesian cows.
-The Tasman Quartermaster. For an amazing selection of local craft beer- and peeps who know their beer- a raucously welcoming atmosphere, and some truly Tasmanian bites.
-Preachers. An old house turned bar kind of hidden in a side street, complete with retired school bus, astro turf, burgers and cocktails.
-MONA. It is, simply, a must. It's weird, it'll make you feel weird, but if you go on a Sunday then when you emerge from the weirdness, you can sit on a beanbag on the lawn and listen to live music.
-The Tasmanian botanic gardens. I love this place... There's a huge veggie garden, fruit trees, a Japanese garden.... I love it.
-And, of course, Mt Wellington. You will go there anyway, because everybody does, but it is worth the drive/climb/(if you are nuts) cycle.
And we venture out of the city:
- Willie Smith's cider house, where we tasted all the ciders and in amongst the bunch I discovered the hyperbole-free BEST cider I have ever tasted.
- The Huon Valley drive. Tiny English-y villages, with the cutest weatherboard houses and beautiful gardens, rolling green hills, the sea smiling through occasionally... you'll have your camera out mostly the whole time.
-Bruny Island, ie. classic Tassie. Stunning beaches, long and short walks through the wildlife, so many native animals, places to camp annndd, if you get there before five pm- which we didn't, alas, fresh oysters at the punnily dubbed 'Get Shucked'.