The first time I went to Tasmania I was fifteen years old, traveling with my family by boat across Bass Strait. It was an overnight journey and I was only a little bit seasick but very excited to wake from bunk in the morning to sea the coastline of Tasmania bobbing up and down outside the window.
Everyone said Tasmania was like a little bit of England, and some parts of it have the feel of rolling hills and Georgian era houses. Other parts have reminders of our colonial/convict heritage which is worn now with some pride. What I remember the most is the variety of landscape – the rugged mountains of the west coast, seaside villages and towns mixed with industrial silhouettes across the north, the pastoral midlands and the mix of old and new bustling in Hobart beside the sparkling waters of the Derwent River.
From the breathtaking height of Mt Wellington, Hobart looked like a tiny lego village that was so far far away. South of Hobart I disappeared into the Hartz Mountains to discover ancient glacier lakes so far away from civilisation. If you could bottle peace this is the place you would come to get it.
After Hobart we visited the former convict settlement of Port Arthur. The year I was born a man rampaged through the tourist site of Port Arthur randomly shooting people. I stood at the memorial world and cried as I read the heart wrenching stories about lives senselessly taken, particularly the two little girls shot down when their mother told them to run. It was almost too overwhelming and I was an emotional mess for days after. It still makes me cry to think of it as I’m typing now.
A bush walk around the lake at Cradle Mountain gave me time to reflect on what sort of a world I lived in. Such a beautiful landscape and so many lovely people yet a history that is littered with horror stories.
The final day before catching the boat back to Melbourne was spent wandering amongst indigenous rock carvings in Devonport. This had been a strange journey for me in so many ways. It felt like I was moving in and out of time with glimpses of past lives, but I wanted to know so much more. I wanted to feel what it was like living in Hobart in the 1800s, help the convicts that struggled against the military and the environment, save those two little girls and all the others.
I love Tasmania to bits. It touches me physically and emotionally and I’m going back there one day soon.