As you would expect, I have been poring over Tasmanian guidebooks for the last few months, trying to get a feel for the place and pick out a few activities for us to do early on. My favourite way of getting to know any new place is just by walking around it and stumbling upon things – so I’m sure that once we’re there this list will be hastily revised – but for now this is what I’m looking forward to.
Fullers Bookshop: My book addiction has already been well documented on this blog. Spending the last two years living in a town with NO BOOKSHOP AT ALL has been painful, and has filled me with near rage every time I’ve walked down the high street. So what a joy it will be to move to a city with a much-loved indie bookshop that holds events and discussion, publishes its own titles, blogs its recommendations and generally does all the good and lovely things that a bookstore should do. Our bank balance is not going to be happy, but I sure am.
MONA: When we visited Hobart earlier in the year, everyone kept banging on about this Mona woman, and DorkyDad and I kept glancing at each other, wondering who she was. It turns out that ‘she’ is the Museum of Old and New Art, best reached by ferry from Hobart’s harbour. I think it’s fair to say that the museum, described by its founder David Walsh as a ‘subversive adult Disneyland’ has proved something of a talking point, not just in Tasmania, but also further afar. I’ll only be able to offer a more informed opinion if I visit myself, so it’s on the list.
Salamanca Market: Salamanca Place is one of Tasmania’s most famous landmarks, and we all had a lovely time wandering up and down in when we visited, stopping off for a coffee in one café and an ice cream in another. What we didn’t get to see was Salamanca Market, a huge open-air market that has been running every Saturday morning for over forty years. With stalls selling everything from local organic produce to artwork to tacky tourist souvenirs, it sounds like there will be something to keep all the Dorkys happy. As we arrive on a Friday, this may well be how we spend our first full day in town.
Launceston: I am well used to geographical rivalries. I am a Hearach, not a Leòdhasach; an Edinburgher, not a Weegie; and most definitely a Scot rather than a Sassenach. When we move to Tasmania, we are going to be living in Hobart, the biggest city on the island, but the city of Launceston is only a couple of hours drive north. In an attempt to get our heads around the rivalry between the two cities which, depending on whom you ask, is either completely in the past or still going strong, I think we’d better pay a visit quite early on. The only thing I know so far is that in Hobart you drink Cascade, and in Launceston you drink Boag’s. I think I can manage that.
Bruny Island: Apparently there is no mobile phone reception on Bruny Island, and hire car companies don’t really like you heading across there because the state of the roads means that you often return your motor in a less than perfect state. Sounds brilliant, doesn’t it?! Add in the incredible selection of locally produced food and drink, the rich opportunities for spotting wildlife (FAIRY penguins – they have fairy penguins!), and the beautiful landscape… and this starts to sound like somewhere we want to see really, really early on.
Hobart Mums Network : Readers of Conde Nast Traveler recently voted Hobart the second friendliest city in the world. I guess the readers of that magazine hadn’t encountered enough members of the Hobart Mums Network, because if they had then the city would have topped the poll for sure. The network is there to support, encourage and inspire local parents. They have a space in the centre of town where you can drop in and chill out with your kids, share useful information and distribute a monthly newsletter. After they posted a link to my ‘Eeek I’m moving to Tasmania’ blog on their Facebook page, I was inundated with emails, tweets and blog comments from friendly mums all offering to help me find my feet when I arrive. I’m bowled over by how lovely they’ve been, and I’ve not even arrived yet! Amazing.
Beaches: DorkyDad and I are both sea people. It feels good for our souls when we breathe air that has a sniff of salt in it. This summer, watching DorkySon run shrieking and laughing into the waves off a North Carolina beach, it seemed that he might be discovering a similar love for all things coastal. So we are all going to be spoiled in Tassie. From Wineglass Bay, often voted one of the best beaches in the world, to the Bay of Fires and Seven Mile Beach, to the many, many other nooks and crannies that are crammed along the island’s coastline… the water may not be warm enough for year long swimming, but we can’t wait to get out our buckets and spades and start exploring.
Chocolate Factories: Tasmania has not just one, not just two but THREE chocolate factories. The one that everyone knows is Cadbury’s, but it’s the smaller scale ones run by House of Anvers and Federation Chocolate that have really got my mouth watering. DorkySon has kindly indicated that he’s happy to try out all three before deciding which one he likes best.
Getting settled: This is not a place, I don’t think. It’s certainly not in any guidebooks. It will just be a moment that we will instinctively know when we reach it. It may be when we’re sitting on a sundeck, watching the sea and sipping wine. It might be when we take DorkySon to his first swimming lesson at the Hobart Aquatic Centre. It might be eating fish and chips at Mures, or pancakes and bacon at Harbour Lights, or perfect gnocchi at Maldini’s. It might be the day our shipping container arrives and we get to sleep in our own bed for the first time in months. It might be the first time we meet a friend or family member off the plane and proudly show them our new city. It might just be a moment that hits unexpectedly when we’re walking to the grocery store, or hanging out the washing.
I’m not sure… I just think we’ll know it when it happens. I’m confident that it will, and I can’t wait. Watch this space.