Life in Tasmania – Week 6 & 7

This time two weeks ago, our sub-leasing tenant decided to break the lease in our Sydney home rather unexpectedly, so my partner and I were forced to make a decision as to whether we would find another tenant to occupy the apartment or discontinue to the lease. We chose the latter because we simply could not see ourselves coming back to live in Sydney again after living and loving the life in Tasmania for over a month. So we decided to leave Sydney permanently and settle in Tasmania long-term (instead of waiting until September this year to make the decision). It didn’t seem like the most ideal scenario at first, but looking back now, we are very happy with the decision as it allows us to focus on investing time, money and energy in enriching our (family/work/social) life here in Tasmania.

This decision meant we had to fly back to Sydney to sort it all out. And we did. As soon as we got off the Hobart-to-Sydney plane at the Sydney Domestic Airport, we immediately found ourselves overwhelmed by with crowds of people trying to go from A to B in a hurried manner, not to mention the crazy amount of traffic as we were trying to leave the airport even though it was off peak hour (well apparently Sydney has entered permanent peak hour), air pollution, construction sites and cranes lifting things up and down. Chaotic and messy – was the city we once loved living in. Good thing, though, was that it further confirmed how happy we were with our decision to move out of Sydney to peaceful Tasmania. For the next 10 days, we went through all the old furniture and boxes of stuff sitting in the garage, moved some, got rid of most of some, cleaned up and handed the keys back to the agent. Hard work yes, but it felt incredibly liberating, both physically and mentally. We still managed to catch up with some of our closest members and friends to say hello/goodbye, which was lovely.

Being back home in Tasmania (and back into our slow-paced daily routine) after spending a busy week in Sydney brought us a huge sense of calm, relief and gratitude. Having said that, Hobart was having a busy couple of weeks (supposedly the busiest time of the year here) with lots of visitors thanks to Dark MOFO – a fortnight of festivities and unconventional artistic experiences including the annual Nude Solstice Swim, where hundreds of people plunge into the River Derwent at sunrise to welcome back the return of the light after the longest night. Due to the road closure, there was a bit of inconvenience getting here and there but overall the city felt organised and well under control. We enjoyed walking around the city central glowing in Dark MOFO spirit and seeing the art installations with its symbolic red lights (including real fires being shot into the sky) and up-side-down crosses (which offended many Christians) everywhere, in both obvious and unexpected places. We also enjoyed the company of DARK CHOCO (i.e. dark hot chocolate) that kept our hands nice and warm 🙂

Another highlight of the weeks was our two consecutive visits at Margate Train located in Margate, Southern Tasmania, a 5-10 minute drive south of Blackmans Bay / Kingston area where we live and about a 20-25 minute drive from the Hobart CBD. Formerly known as the Tasman Limited that was built in England and used as a passenger service between Hobart and Launceston, it ceased to operate as a working train after its final rail journey in July 1978. Since then, the site where the train settled has transitioned into a charming little business/tourism district with quirky, quaint shops and eatery both inside and outside the train including Devils BreweryBootiful (a vegan boot store!) and the Pancake Train.

 

We opened the door into the Pancake Train carriage and were absolutely delighted to have an authentic experience of being on the train – they kept most of the original interior of the train (including the overhead baggage area, the seats and tables, etc.) so much so it felt as if it was about to leave and take us somewhere! Julian (my 2-year-old son) liked everything about it. The cafe staff were so friendly and brought us delicious food for us. The Apple Crumble pancake was to-die-for (not too sweet, not too blend) which came with oven-baked Tasmanian apple slices with a drizzle of Tasmanian maple syrup. The staff also brought us coloured pencils and paper (the space really sparked my creative spirit so I started drawing straight away!) as well as a basket full of train-themed toys for our son to play with. Speaking of play, there’s also a play area outside the train with the beautiful little wooden train (but big enough to be a playground equipment) with separate carriages for children to play and get all imaginative. Julian told me that the little red train was his favourite and that he wanted to become a train driver. Bless. Naturally, he made the rest of the family the make-believe passengers while he was driving the train to his wonderful imaginary world! It’s definitely one of the places we’ll take family and friends to when they visit us.

As I have decided to end my unofficial Maternity Leave at the end of June, I’ll start working from July on a part-time basis. This means I will be spending more time in the Hobart CBD area for client meetings, etc. so I will be exploring different cafes and other interesting little cultural spots. After all, we moved to Tasmania for its  combination of nature and culture, and I am very keen to find more about the cultural aspect of living here.

Life in Tasmania – Week 4 & 5

Goodbye autumn, hello winter. The last week of Autumn 2018 also marked one-month anniversary of our life in Tasmania. Over the last two weeks the temperature dropped quite dramatically too; ranging between 10-15°C maximum and 3-5°C minimum. Most of the golden autumn leaves have been either blown away or flooded away. It really looks and feels like winter in Tasmania. The mountains (especially Mt. Wellington) surrounding the Hobart area get extra misty in the morning, not to mention the smokes from chimneys of the houses probably from the extra usage of fireplaces to keep the house warm. We also bought a big bulk of firewood for our fireplace too (enough to fill the boot of the car) with a strong desire to survive our first winter in Tasmania (i.e. the closest island to Antarctica).

I didn’t post an update on Week 4 earlier because we had two seperate family member visits over the last fortnight that kept us busier than usual, you know, showing them around now we are the Tassie locals. One thing we were a little concerned about leaving Sydney was being too far away thus not being able to spend as much time with our family. However we have noticed that the time we spend with them is becoming more about “quality” than quantity. Both family members came here from Sydney to stay with us for the weekend (which sounds too short) but they were extra engaged and “in the moment” (especially with our children), making each moment count. We also find ourselves making the most of their company while they are around and appreciate their presence in our life more than ever. So even though we are physically further away from them, we feel closer to them mentally and emotionally. (Regular FaceTime sessions also helps!)

Now that we have been here for one good month, a good sense of rhythm, routine and structure (both daily and weekly) has started developing, too. For example, when we wake up in the morning, my partner takes our baby daughter for a walk (just before or after the sunrise) while my 2-year-old son and I make breakfast for the family. And we all sit around the table and eat breakfast together, which is a really nice way to start the day.  We have recurring, weekly activities on specific days like going to the local library on Wednesday mornings (for a musical program for children as well as borrowing/returning books), having my ‘me time’ (i.e. my alone time which I usually spend on writing in cafes with good coffee) on Thursday mornings and attending the local playgroup on Friday mornings. On the weekends, we love going the local markets (including the Salamanca Market, Huon Farmer’s Market and Kingston Beach Handmade Market) to get fresh produce and connect with local businesses/communities. All of these regular activities together acts as a bone structure to our week which helps us stay grounded and create a balanced lifestyle in line with our values. Ironically, having a structure means we can let ourselves enjoy those spontaneous moments when they come in between these activities.

The love of live music (especially jazz) my partner and I share means we actively look for places (restaurants, bars, markets, you name it!) that offer live music everywhere we go. And we found this awesome weekly live music event in Hobart called Rektango that’s on every Friday night in the intimate courtyard space of Salamanca Arts Centre. Apparently it’s been going for 15 years! We arrived there about 5pm just as the band was setting up. By 5:30pm the band started playing very funky, soulful and jazzy tunes. The space started getting filled quickly with people of all age groups: small children (including ours), big children, teenagers, young and old adults as well as seniors… dancing, laughing or just enjoying the music. What a scene. Surrounded by old, heritage sandstone buildings, the space had such a unique and eclectic vibe. The little bar in the corner was serving mulled wine, perfect for the chilly evening. We absolutely loved everything about Rektango. It’s definitely something we’ll be going to regularly as a family. Salty Dog is another great venue/restaurant that offers live music every Sunday afternoon in Kingston Beach (near where we live). It has a courtyard that has a sandpit for children to play in and roaring outdoor fire with bean bags to sit/lie on… plus they have really good food!

A sense of community has begun to develop as well, which is very important to us when it comes to our emotional well-being (as all human beings need to have a sense of belonging in order to thrive!). We have recently met quite a few families with small children in the local library and playgroup. Despite the differences in our cultural and professional background, we all have one thing in common: having moved to Tasmania (all the way from Denmark, Chile as well as other states of Australia) with the intention to create a slower, more balanced life for ourselves as well as our children. Given the share intention, we naturally connected with each other and had a lot to talk about. Every family we have met so far seems very happy with the quality of life Tasmania has to offer. We are looking forward developing quality friendships with some of them over time – slowly and naturally.

So far so good 🙂