I love Tassie for some very confused reasons. Originally my love for the Apple Isle had much more to do with visiting my grandmother than with appreciation for rolling scenery and fresh fruit. My best memories are of having morning tea in Nanna’s tiny flat before racing off down the streets of Ulverstone to play in the space park, which was a rotary park nearby with play equipment all done up like spaceships.
Nanna passed away in 2007, and for quite a while after the funeral I was happy never to go to Tassie again. But we have been back a few times for Christmases and weddings and I seem to be growing into a greater appreciation for what a nice place it is independent of my family.
The day we got into Launceston was horrible.
It was clear and sunny enough while Kim and I walked down the main street to find some food, but by lunch time our early departure from Sydney had caught up with us and we needed nap. We took one, aiming to check out Cataract Gorge when we woke up, by we woke to discover that it had come over all rainy, cold and rubbish. This once again was Tassie’s idea of a heat wave.
We did manage to get to the gorge the next day before driving over to Devonport to meet my parents and my sister and her husband and checking into a delightfully quaint cabin on the coast. Normally quaint is a good adjective, but it doesn’t go well with ‘room for six people,’ and with good reason. There really wasn’t.
We had a lovely dinner that night in a park in Ulverstone just around the corner from where my Grandmother used to live. Well… it was Ulverstone. Everywhere is just around the corner. There’s really only two corners. I was distressed to see that most of the space park had been taken down and replaced with injury proof vanilla climbing frames. I’m sure there’s a really potent metaphor for my perspectives on life there, but I’m not quite sure I like where this line of thought takes me.
It was only for a couple of nights, which we were able to pass by playing mental card games and watching the Muppet and Lady Gaga Christmas special. It was great being able to watch Lady Gaga being accompanied by Doctor Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, and not being able to figure out which one was the most funny-looking. My favourite is still Animal, but I’m not really in favour of any human performer who manages to make him look positively normal.
After a couple of days on the North coast, we headed once again for Scamander for Christmas with my uncle and aunt, but not without visiting the chocolate shop, the cheese shop, the bakery, the cherry shop and two different raspberry farms on the way. The weather remained resolutely horrible, but we got by with the help of my sister’s barbershop Christmas album.
And then we had Christmas day in Scamander. I’ve written about Scamander before and I won’t bother to do it again. I don’t think much has changed there in the last twelve months. Or the last twelve years. Or ever. And that’s not a bad thing.
We spent Christmas Eve night in a lovely little chapel in St. Helens. We were a little worried that we would be the only ones there when we arrived at ten past eleven for a quarter-past service, but the locals all rolled in the door at fourteen minutes past and we took off into a determined rendition of Once in Royal David’s City. The service was nice, with the usual carols and readings. And then I managed to leave my hat behind, meaning I had to go back for it early the next morning. Well… I always do like to get to church on Christmas morning, even if I didn’t stick around this time. We opened presents and had a traditionally huge lunch at my uncle’s house before spending the afternoon at the beach. After another couple of days of driving around and taking lots of photos of white beaches with orange rocks, we packed up and were on our way back to the mainland. It was a lovely week, but a strangely introspective one. Every time I go back to Tassie, I end up leaving with the sure knowledge that Tassie never changes.
But I sure do.
Garry with 2 Rs