Tasmania’s friendliness is immediately obvious and genuine.
Driving off the ferry in Devonport, the first Taswegian we met was the quarantine officer, and he waved us straight through; it seems his colleague in Melbourne had flagged our car as OK. 20 m further we were greeted by somebody with a bagful of tourist brochures and a free copy of the local paper. 10 m past him we were met by old friends (at 7:45 am, so pre-arranged) who treated us to a Maccas breakfast.
The next things that struck us once again was the “friendly” countryside south of Devonport: the highway winds past rustic weatherboard farmhouses set in compact rolling green paddocks and orchards with tree-rows, areas of native bush, and always with eucalypt-covered ranges or rugged mountains on the skyline. There are regions around all Australia’s state capitals with rolling hills and lush farmland, but the Tasmanian north coastal strip is so much gentler- and more English-looking, and it always seems to be green, even when the rest of the state, like all of the southern “mainland” (Australia), looks parched after a long hot dry summer.
After less than an hour, we took our next planned stop, at the Christmas Hills Berry Farm, between Elizabeth Town and Deloraine. What a feast – and more (and quite unexpected) friendliness: with our luscious morning tea we were given a free jar of raspberry jam… yum and wow.
Again and again, when something made it clear to a local that we weren’t Tasmanians but South Aussies, there would be another lively conversation. At the supermarket, on a near-deserted beach, in a café: our Tasmanian connection does mean we have an interesting tale to tell, and the locals are always interested.
The Tassie wildlife is also special! Last week just after dark we almost ran down a local wallaby on the street 100 m from where we’re staying. The amount of “roadkill” is something that strikes interstate visitors here: there is just sooo much more of it than anywhere else I’ve ever been: the bush must be alive with possums, bandicoots, wallabies, devils, and their ilk, plus sadly lots of “ferals”: foxes, rabbits, and household and farm pets.
Tasmania is also friendly to our souls – because in many ways our roots are here. Helen and I met in Southern Tasmania and had our most formative years here. This small state is loaded with good memories for us! It’s significant that I remember more names from my one year of senior high school here than from my other 11 years of schooling. Helen grew up here and has become a 3 month member of the Orpheus Society, where she met two classmates. The fact that the whole state has only 520,000 inhabitants helps explain that the same names keep popping up: Bush, Groom, Hodgman, Petrusma, Wriedt.
I recently explained Tasmania’s location to someone as “Australia’s earring”. Despite having many of the least desirable Australian statistics (together with South Oz), Tasmania is a pearl of great value. Small wonder that so many sea-changers are choosing to add to the assets of this State.