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Mum and I have had a lovely five days away in Tasmania this past week. It’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to go and just never have. No good reason. Just never got there, until now.

(As is my usual wont, I will write in a fair amount of detail over a few posts, as much so I have a record of what we did as anything. Hopefully you find it interesting too!)

Our dear friends, the Barrys, moved down there a little over four years ago, so it was wonderful to go to Launceston and see them again. We had planned to stay at their place, but the dreaded lurgy hit and there’s nothing worse than having people in your space when you’re sick (and it’s especially bad when you’re a kid and you have no say in the matter). So we booked a room at the Leisure Inn Penny Royal Hotel. It had originally been a corn mill, 54 kms away, and for some reason was moved to Launceston, reconstructed, and made into a hotel. With a windmill. All the rooms have plaques on them in gothic script with names like “Flour Room” and “Maize Room”. We were in the “Millers Room”, but thankfully the names were just a quirk and not indicative of the room’s theme. It was a comfy place with character.

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We had dinner and a catch up with the Barrys at their place. The kids were most pleased with our offering of Krispy Kreme (apparently an oft-requested purchase from Tasmanian residents when people visit the mainland; the cheerful guy at the car rental place said that for a while there had been a bit of a racket going on a Facebook buy and sell group, with people taking orders for boxes of doughnuts when they were going to Sydney and charging a little bit extra for the trouble of bringing them back). I love that the Bs are the sort of friends where you can just pick up where you left off and there’s no interstitial awkwardness (even with Nay shouting, “I don’t remember these people!” when we walked in). We talked about life in Tasmania, what the church scene is like there, what kind of work Mark does as the sole Bible Society dude in the state, what they like about living there…and lots of other things.

Next morning, after a hearty breakfast and checking out of the miller’s room, I realised Gourlay’s Sweet Factory was at the back of the place we were staying. As we walked in, the man inside said, “oh you’ve arrived just in time! I’m about to do a batch of peppermint blackballs!” We had a great chat for about 20 minutes as he poured the hot sugar and glucose mixture on the cold metal table, shaped it into a slab, poured a small but eye-wateringly potent measure of peppermint essence over the mixture, folded and reworked the toffee, cut it into sections and then rolled it through a small hand-cranked machine that had been used since 1896 to make the sweets. Once the sheets of what looked like ruby-coloured bubble wrap had hardened, he gave them a crack on the table and they shattered into individual lollies, which we were then allowed to sample. It was such a great, impromptu experience – I absolutely love finding out how things are made.

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We headed off to Grindelwald. It’s a funny little town about 15 minutes north of Launceston, founded in the 1980s by a Dutch guy who had a thing for Switzerland and created his own little Swiss village in the hills. Of course it was very quiet, being winter time, but it was very pretty too. I asked whether it was just a stereotypical version of Switzerland, but mum said it felt pretty true to the non-urban areas. We had a hot chocolate in the near-deserted resort village.

The main reason we went to Grindelwald was to look at a house (not one of the Swiss ones). You see, we are contemplating a move south. Our thinking is still in the early, tentative, let’s-not-run-away-with-ourselves stage, and we’re praying a lot and trying to work out whether this is the right move. I will write more about the reasoning and whys and wherefores in a later post (in short: can’t afford to live in Sydney as a pensioner and freelancer, but if we move we can can pay off ridiculous Sydney mortgage and still buy something decent; thanks to the miracle of the internet I can work with clients from anywhere; we don’t have a lifestyle that needs to be in a big city; we’ve both been feeling really ground down by living in Sydney in recent years; we both want a bit of space and quiet; we would be able to help in an under-resourced church scene; we prefer the cold to the heat). It seemed silly not to look at some property while we were there. The property was lovely, with wallabies and a creek and lots of trees and I could easily have seen us living there. The house was good, but probably a bit small, really, even though I was already planning what furniture we’d put where. This is what a little part of the yard looks like:

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That’s a bit of a departure from King Georges Road, isn’t it?

We went back to Legana and got to see the Barrys’ house and yard in the daylight. They’ve done amazing work on it since they moved in, and I love their rambling garden with the young fruit trees and vegies and chickens and all sorts of interesting plants. And the fantastic red front door with matching adirondack chairs on the porch! We left Mark working, and drove around for a while, looking at different parts of the city that Lucy likes and talking about the pros and cons of living there. Lunch was at the Launceston campus of the University of Tasmania in Inveresk, where the arts and architecture faculties are (there are plans to move the whole campus there).

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Then some more driving around to see Cataract Gorge (well, not really, just where it was), and the more built up areas of Launceston. I love the feel of it, the backdrop of hills and river, and that it takes hardly any time to get anywhere (one of the big drawcards).

Okay that’s enough for now. Next: Mole Creek!