Why would you want to go there?
It is like the twilight zone! Everyone is stuck permanently in 1970.
Despite the teasing, I was eager to visit my parents and older brother who had relocated from Brisbane, Queensland to rural Green’s Beach, Tasmania.
It was 1982.
My parents had purchased a house in need of repair, with a separate chalet, on a large parcel of land. Never showing any interest in golf, I was surprised to discover that the back-garden gate, led onto the green. The closest my parents, came to the Member’s Bar was to regularly re-cycle buckets of balls that they dug out of their garden.
My friends however, were correct on some accounts.
Living in Sydney, I had adopted an eclectic style influenced by Debbie Harry from the American band, Blondie. I wore my hair pixie short and dyed it platinum blonde. I fitted seamlessly into the Sydney band and club scene.
However, in Launceston, plaid shirts, mullet haircuts and corduroy flared jeans were still in full swing. I had traded neon lights for the sound of screeching tyres.
On Friday and Saturday nights, the local parade of car enthusiasts, showcased their Torana, Fairlaine, Cortina or Kingswood by bog laps around the city blocks.
In the daylight hours, I could be assured of at least a couple of wolf whistles and cat calls, walking down the Launceston main street, despite having little skin exposed. I soon adopted a more laid back style and bought a pair of Tasmanian made, Blundstone boots.
My adventures around Tasmania, over the past 34 years, remain my fondest. I have been ‘in love’, since my first breath of full bodied air.
Armed with a bulging backpack, I hitched many times across the ‘Apple Isle’. Despite my parents’ concerns about hitchhiking, I thumbed my way from north to south, east to west, sometimes with others, but mainly on my own.
I have slept in many youth hostels, including one with a pet wombat, and played cards late into the morning with travellers from all over the world. In 1985, I returned to live in North Hobart for a year. I worked in a friend’s café, and made my debut, as a backup singer in a local band.
I have numerous stories that await another time to be told.
I have witnessed a lot of changes over the years. The shift from unlocked houses and cars, to security systems and the steady disappearance of the manufacturing industry. Tourism is Tasmania’s ‘bread and butter’ revenue.
The remote wilderness areas never fail to impress, as do the pristine beaches of Freycinet and the stunning Wineglass Bay. The tulip fields of Table Cape in full bloom are a rainbow of beauty.
The convict ruins of Sara Island, Port Arthur or Bruny Island remind us all of our humble national birth and the resilience of the Tasmanian people who have forged lives out of bush, so dense and inhabitable.
However, there are some casualties of time, the once iconic moonscape of Queenstown is now like a damp biscuit, forgotten and unappealing.
The avant-garde creative communities of Hobart, Burnie, Launceston and other Tasmanian rural townships have created strong networks where business innovation has flourished. There continue to be thousands of examples of great entrepreneurism, including the mobile coffee van with portable fold out tables and chairs, for tourists viewing Hell’s Kitchen at Eaglehawk Neck.
Salamanca Place markets, I believe are still the finest example of creative markets in Australia. I am not sure that in 2016, they are quite as eclectic as they were in the early 1990’s when bands played on the grassed area. In my younger body, I enjoyed freely dancing to the home grown indie rock.
In 2015, I discovered Tasmanian artist Dewayne Eversmith, when he was touring in Perth, West Australia. In 2012, Dewayne, at that time an Aboriginal Health Worker, was the songwriter of the 250-million-dollar Australian tourism promotion. His inspiration was Strahan. He had not released any music at the time.
I have returned to Tasmania over 16 times, since 1982. It is my second home.
In the festive season of 2016, the lure of the Asian tourist dollar is reflected in dual signage written in English and Mandarin in most of the major attractions.
I deeply appreciate the importance of targeted tourism for the sustainability of small townships and the Tasmanian people in general. I wonder however, how much ‘cultural sensitivity’ is discussed to assist tourists before travelling around Australia.
Consideration works both ways. Perhaps our eagerness to sell our country has lowered the opinion of others of the worth that we value our land and our customs?
In the pristine wilderness of Strahan, I do not want to hear high pitched voices, loudly conversing, nor do I want to have my view interrupted with the taking of endless photos of the same scene with different members of the troupe.
Here in Tasmania, if you are fortunate, you are still able to witness Australia’s fauna in situ.
Despite quietly stopping to view a wombat on the stretch between Cradle Mountain and Sheffield, I did not feel inclined to inform a car of international tourists who had stopped to seize upon a photo opportunity, the whereabouts of the live animal.
As an Australian and protective of our fauna and flora, I did not want this beautiful creature to be exposed to opportunistic tourists. There were no fences there, to protect these animals from our need to capture our experience of them.
Tasmania is to be embraced as a unique place of beauty and experienced through interaction, not viewed through the lens of a camera alone.