Bound for Van Diemen’s Land….Returning to Tasmania

This blog started with a post about heading across to Europe for an extended holiday a few years ago. It was started as a way to keep in touch with loved ones and share our experiences and thoughts and pictures in a way that Farcebook posts or hurried picture messages sent with little thought to time differences cannot. Most of those loved ones live in Tassie, where I moved to in 1995 and instantly found a deep connection to the place.

So after 8 years in Sydney the pull of ‘home‘ become great and I actively started seeking out employment opportunities to enable the return.

Hobart, the firmament dominated by kunyanyi (or its English name of Mount Wellington) which is always sentinel, as if a sleeping giant ready to rise at moments notice to protect the denizens that nestle into its foothills. The expanse of the Derwent River, that which gave briny lifeblood to the indigenous tribes for thousands of years and more recently to the white men in the sailing boats who came here free or shackled, is an ever changing canvas on which the sky is painted grey or blue. The Narcissus like trance that one can fall into watching the water is pleasantly broken with the wake from a modern vessel: the effortless glide of a camouflaged catamaran bound for MONA or the chugchugchug of a trawler destined for the Continental Shelf to fish the deep with 21st century tools like machine driven nets rather than a harpoon and a true arm of those Whalers that populated the shores of coastal Van Diemen’s Land.

We won’t be settled into our own place immediately, taking up the generosity of a family friend who is in the midst of moving (to the mainland of all places!) so their house stands empty and waiting for us to give it some life for a little while. Our intent has always been to find a patch of dirt of our own. Too many apartments and shared walls: The noise of a screaming child in another apartment, but only 3 metres away through 40 year old concrete walls. The mental images upon hearing the urine hit the s-bend from the bloke upstairs. The knock of the police due to the loud laughter of your guests on the Friday before Christmas. Okay, so maybe that won’t change. But we’re getting to the point where we want a dog (And maybe a cat). Will be a rescue dog of course, none of this pure breed rubbish that has you getting pet insurance. To have some earth to turn and plant seeds in and watch nature sprout and grow and feed us physically and emotionally. Metaphors ahoy. And for me…a clothesline.

This section of the post is now written on my work computer as I sit in my empty office in Chatswood, NSW for one of the last times, overlooking vast apartment towers straddling the iron tracks filled with the constant snaking of commuter trains below. There are great people who have become dear friends and happenings like the Sydney Theatre Company that we’ll miss about Sydney, but those give us reason to return and reminisce of the good things about the Emerald City

Not to mention the wonderful wine folk in New South Wales who have encouraged me and fostered my foray into this strange corner of the wine world I’ve found myself. Andrew Thomas and Richard (Dicky) Done who let me crash vintage with them in the Hunter Valley at Thomas Wines. Then there’s Stuart Knox at Fix St James who has always had a welcoming seat, a can of beer and an interesting glass of wine. David Cumming at Define Wine who believed in my writing and made me a passionate advocate of the wines from Orange NSW (my 2nd favourite place after Tasmania) and continues to support me. Poppy Gresson who pushed me deeper into social media land than I would probably ever have gone. And finally, Angus Hughson who casually asked me to put some wine reviews together for a little company called CrackaWines when they started out and didn’t have any content. There are so many other great people who have encouraged me to grow my wine knowledge and been so generous with their time, wine, beer and conversation such as Mike Bennie, Iain Riggs, Mike DeIuliis, Tom Ward, Drew Tuckwell and Samantha Connew. I have no doubt I’ll be seeing one, some, all of them in Tassie in the very near future. Guaranteed I’ve missed out thanking someone, so if I’ve shared a conversation or a beverage with you in the last 8 years, I sincerely thank you.
I’m going to continue studies in the industry whilst there, and with 4 wine regions within 40 minutes drive, getting my viticultural fix will have never been easier to score.

The logistics of moving interstate are always difficult and I’ve aged to the point whereby 2 mates and a ute just won’t cut it. So, we’ve engaged (at a decent expense) a professional moving company to assist. Even with the packing. It’s the most awkward feeling and the one that has truly caused me anguish. You see, I won’t be in the house when they come to put 21.1 cubic metres of our belongings into cardboard boxes and then into a truck which will then go into a container and then inside a boat to be shipped to Hobart, like some giant version of a home-wares Russian Matryoshka Nesting Doll. Or maybe more like the little old lady who swallowed a fly. I’ll already be on the ground in Hobart and trusting the team to work with my wife to get the job done efficiently. So currently our home still has all the books in the book shelf and plates in the cupboard: Just as if we’re not actually leaving New South Wales at all. But I’ve assurance from the moving company that it is better to let the professionals do their job. It’s a tough ask this putting faith in others to do what you’ve done yourself so many times before.

All these items will be going into storage, so the excitement of rediscovering our own belongings when we finally settle into our place holds some pleasant anticipation, but also the nagging feeling of having left out something we’ll need. Ah well…sometimes just gotta close your eyes and take the step, eh?

The future of Tasmania is bright, more so than ever before. The world class spotlight that Moorilla / MONA lead by the exuberant David Walsh have shone upon themselves has meant that no one on the edges can skulk in the shadows. They too have to step up to give the same, if not better experience to visitors to the state. There’s an energy, a buzz….a feel that there’s forward progression. There’s TV shows being made there promoting the food and wine. There’s the best luxury accommodation in the world.  Hobart has started to become a mature city full of art and culture and celebrating all that the land/water provides. No longer a laughing stock backwater of inbred jokes that linger with the jangling strains of banjos.  Without fail, every person we’ve told that we’re moving home to Tasmania has replied with “oh you lucky things, I love it down there. I wish I could move there.”

And maybe that thought has crossed your mind too, whilst reading this. I hope it has, and I look forward to sharing a beer or a wine with you, whilst wrapped warm in a jacket by a fire pot in Salamanca Place. For all it’s good points, Tassie can get cold. See you down there.



3 responses to “Bound for Van Diemen’s Land….Returning to Tasmania

  1. All the best buddy, I look forward to continuing our chats over Twitter on been in tin, the wonderful world of Pinot but mostly about the pain of been a Waratahs fan.. Thanks for your support and friendship

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