Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Tasmania

Can you be thankful for a place? I am.

A view of the sheep station where Mr S and I lived for two years.
It rarely looked like this - Goulburn was in the grip of severe drought for 5 years.

I grew up in the Southern Tablelands of NSW, where the claim to fame of the town I grew up in was the Big Merino. This generation of my family were not farmers, rather my Dad worked at the high security prison and my Mum is a library technician. It goes like many small town stories do, grow up, meet a boy, realise how big your world could be and move away.

Five years after meeting Mr S we decided to move. Tasmania, Eden in NSW or New Zealand. We applied for jobs in all of those places. I got a job in Tasmania first. So it was time.

We decided it was a smart thing to do before we had a mortgage and children. That way, if we didn't like it, we could just move back. So we gave notice, packed our house and prepared to move.

If you've ever moved house you'll realise it's no where near that simple, but for readability, it's that simple. I left in February 2005, and Mr S was to follow six weeks later with our car full of stuff and two cats. In the time between my leaving and his leaving, Mr S threw a lot of stuff out. I would get phone calls along the lines of 'Your sewing machine that's been broken for two years... keep? Or Vinnies?' (It went to Vinnies by the way, which was fine with me.)

I saw Tasmania for the first time when my Dad and I stepped off the plane. It was beautiful and such a strange land, for me who had only been on a plane twice previously. Mr S and I had decided Tasmania was on our list because everyone who'd ever been there had simply raved about it. Mr S is an intrepid explorer and photographer, so it seemed good to us.

Dad decided to come with me, so I wouldn't be alone in a new state straight away. At least, this was his story... he just wanted a holiday. Bless him.

Mr S arrived six weeks later to a severely lonely 6 kilogram heavier me on crutches, having fallen over three times in two weeks and fractured my foot, drunk beer and eaten biscuits the entire time. Not my finest moments, I admit.

However, why am I thankful for Tasmania? It is a welcoming place. The suburb we chose randomly to live in? Divine. It freaked me out that people said 'Hello' to each other on the street. I mean, weren't they going to say 'Hello' and then mug me? Apparently not.

The night Mr S arrived we had our entire worldly belongings jammed in a single bedroom of a share house... with two cats as well. We sat in bed and contemplated what we'd done. Oh god. Mr S didn't have a job, we had absolutely no money, and panic was setting in. As we I panicked, Mr S handed me a sheaf of mail that he'd picked up on his way down.

The conversation went like this:
'So. Money. We have none.' (open envelope 1) 'Oh look, the tax office made an error. Here's a $600 cheque! Bonus!'
'I'll get a job this week. Don't worry!' (open envelope 2) 'Oh look. We overpaid the gas bill for two years. Here's a cheque for $800! Bonus!'

Right. So far Tasmania, we were loving you.

The view of our first house in Tasmania.
I LOVED that garden.
The next day we went house hunting. We popped our heads out of our bedroom window to peer at Mt Wellington, and our gaze fell to the house across the road. 'FOR LEASE. OPEN HOUSE THIS MORNING.' Okay then. We got chatting to the estate agent, who mentioned there was a house higher up the mountain we might like. We went for a drive, and applied for both, feeling sick that we had two indoor cats to convince an agent to let us keep with us, too. The estate agent rang us the next morning, offering us our choice of either house.

That's another win for you, Tasmania.

Later that day Mr S went to buy a washing basket for us. And came home with a job from that very shop, where he then stayed for six years.

That's three for three, Tasmania.

Tasmania has always seemed like more than just a location for us. It turns out that my great great grandfather acquired a ticket of leave to Hobart, and built a house around the corner from where we lived. And, I am also a Hellyer by birth, so I have more ties to this place that I ever imagined.

Oh Tasmania, you get under my skin so easily.

Promo photo from my gigging days.

Part of the plan in moving here was to simplify our lives. We had good jobs in NSW. We decided to find jobs that would pay our bills and give us an awesome lifestyle in Tasmania. They do. We pursued our passions and I made a living from performing my own songs for five years whilst working part time. What a dream come true!

In our time here, everything has just fallen into place. A dash of trust, a sprinkling of clean air and a touch of magic, it seems.

I can honestly say that in the seven years I've lived here my life has changed so much and become so much richer. I've never been happier. So today, Tasmania, I'm thankful for you.

Mr S, Mrs S and tiny four week old M.
Indeed, Tasmania, you have made me very happy.

Linking up with Kate for Thankful Thursday.


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