Tasmania, the “Apple Isle” and apple of my eye

Tasmania (for the unknowing or uncertain of you) is the little heart-shaped jewel that hangs from Australia’s right ear.

Until the European Common Market raised the bar of restrictive trade practices, Tasmania’s apple industry supplied much of that region’s apples, so much so that it was known as “the Apple Isle”.  Every autumn when I lived there, cargo ships with European, British and Scandinavian names lined up on the River Derwent for their turn at the wharves to pick up their load of apples and pears.

Tasmania is twice the size of the Netherlands (my country of birth) but has less than half a million human inhabitants (compare with the 18 m Dutchies).  This means there’s been plenty of room for migrants and refugees, who have gone there in great numbers for over 200 years – many of them to move on to other Australian states able to offer more work choices and higher pay.

So Tasmania has remained small, and much of it unspoilt and quiet, which together with its rugged landscapes and large forested wilderness areas makes it an attractive holiday destination.

I’ve lived in Tassie for only 5 years during the 1960s, but they were formative and happy years.

I finished high school there and did my university studies in Hobart.

I met and married my wonderful wife of 40+ years there.

Both our parents lived there longer than anywhere else and died in Tasmania, and more of our 12 brothers and sisters live there than any other single place, so that it has remained our family “home ground”.

Our four kids grew up “on the mainland” (as the rest of Australia is referred to in Tassie) with lots of Tasmanian pilgrimages for holidays and family occasions – complete with long interstate car travel, exciting overnight ferry crossings, side trips to spectacular mountain country, serene rivers and lonely beaches, and never-to-be forgotten family times with grandparents, uncles and aunts, and more cousins than they could handle (just sometimes).

During my five years in Tasmania, Helen and I each grew more significantly than at any other time in our lives.  We participated and tested our skills in the life and programs of a large and flourishing Christian church, in school and university groups of like-minded and “safe” people, in formative and skill-building Christian camps, missions and conferences, and by being mentored by some of the most beautiful people we have ever come across.

Is it any wonder my family and I are “Tasmaniacs”?

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