Why Tasmania? – A Kiwi’s Journey

By Peter Darrow

Why Tasmania?

A question often asked of me. Most New Zealanders head for the sunshine of Queensland or New South Wales, not the cold winters of Tasmania.
We left New Zealand in 2007 at a time when many people moved to Australia for a better lifestyle. They were not all heading for Bondi either! Many Kiwis were now heading for Brisbane and other parts of Queensland. Melbourne was an option, but the warmer climes of Brisbane won out. The weather had been a factor in why we left New Zealand, plenty of rain makes NZ very green but it can be restrictive.

We started our journey in Caloundra where we thought the sunshine lifestyle would appeal. In the middle of winter, the warm temperatures were great with little rain. I had secured a retail job with a large liquor company and commuted to Brisbane. This became too much after a while and we decided to buy a property in Brisbane in the suburb of Cashmere. A wonderful home with obligatory pool and outdoor living area. Our son was settled into a school and our daughter began day care. Work was going well, and I was advancing up the ladder.

Once we hit summer though the hot weather was having a major impact on us. Coming from New Zealand, the heat became unbearable. It got to the point where we even contemplated returning to New Zealand. We agreed however that our journey had only begun and maybe there was another alternative.

Friends of ours had often spoken of their holiday in Tasmania and their desire to eventually move there. This inspired me to start researching Tasmania and what lifestyle it offered. The real estate prices, cooler weather, family-oriented lifestyle all appealed. A desire now to have a different lifestyle to the big mortgage, no time for kids and most of the time spent at work aspects, led us to thinking there must be a better way.

The decision was made to sell up and move to Tasmania, which was difficult, but we had become used to moving. The house sold quickly, one vehicle was sold, and we shipped one down to Tasmania. I resigned from work and thought maybe I will come back and work for the company on a part time basis. Who knew what the future held?

The plan was to ship everything to Hobart and search for a home and work there. We did consider driving all the way to Tasmania from Brisbane, but eventually decided to fly into Hobart. The first thing we noticed upon arrival was how friendly the locals were. People in big city Brisbane were nowhere near as friendly. We had an annual street gathering where everyone  declared “we should do this more often”, it never happened! We checked out several properties in the Hobart area including the Huon Valley, but found that we were probably a year or two late in picking up a bargain. As we did not find anything we decided to travel around Tasmania and see what the island had to offer. After visiting some of the tourist attractions around Hobart including Port Arthur, we decided to head up the East Coast in our journey around the island.

Why Tasmania? Port Arthur is a major Draw-card when tourists ask "Why Tasmania"
Why Tasmania? Port Arthur is a major Draw-Card for International & Interstate Tourists

We passed through many of the coastal towns thinking “could we live here”, no town received the overall tick of approval however. It was not until we got to the Meander Valley did we think “yes, this is the place”. A lot greener than other places and very picturesque. We eventually bought a property and achieved our dream of living mortgage free.

Over the following years life has brought me into Launceston and I look back on what I have experienced. We had a family journey around Tasmania, I opened a second-hand bookstore and at the same time started up a local cricket club which were  great experiences. A way to connect with the community and have a little fun. I also achieved a dream of getting into cricket coaching. Coaching my son and other under 12’s was rewarding. It was as though I did things in Tasmania that I had often thought about doing back in New Zealand.

I managed a liquor store before finding what I thought was going to be my dream job in event management. I had organised many events back in New Zealand but only ever on a part time basis and I often wondered what it would be like to do it full time. I enjoyed the experience but unfortunately after two years was made redundant. It was just prior to this job that I had two devastating life changing events. My son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes which can be a deadly disease especially for young adolescents. He was only ten years old. Blame is one of the emotions parents have and I often wondered what I could have done wrong. This was possibly the straw that broke the camel’s back, and my marriage broke up soon after. It meant moving out of the family home and having my kids on an alternate weekly basis.

Redundancy led to job offers including one in Melbourne which I turned down at the last minute because staying with my two kids was more important than moving for work. I have since found work which I have thoroughly enjoyed doing for the past seven years.

So, over a short period of time I had experienced my son getting a life-threatening disease, a marriage break-up and redundancy since we arrived in Tasmania. Does it mean it was a mistake moving here? No, definitely not, initially I would have said yes but time has been a great healer. These events could well have happened back in New Zealand.

My time in Tasmania has been a personal learning experience more than anything. Coping with traumatic events, which I have learnt not to call good or bad, is just part of life. Once you realise this it helps to cope with the roller coaster ride and life stays on a more even keel. Rather than find the perfect job, a beautiful house, or the best place in which to live I have found even more here in Tasmania. Dealing with life has opened my eyes to the truth which has been life changing for me. Confronting reality helps us to not hide and shirk away from the painful life events we may go through. I am not sure, but it is possibly why I have been able to cope with the current covid-19 crisis in a positive way.

Trauma snaps us back to reality, the truth, and a re-evaluation of our beliefs. A lot of people just live their lives in a dream like state, a bubble, with no inclination to find the truth or to grow as individuals. Embrace the struggle and grow from it. “The truth shall set you free”, meaning that you have found your truth with no more searching, which brings a sense of freedom.

So, no this isn’t a tourism article about the great spots to visit, or the best places to live or eat in Tasmania, it is about going on a personal journey and being grateful to Tasmania that answers were found here.

Why Tasmania?

Tell us what you love about Tasmania in the comments below!

If you moved here from Interstate or Internationally, why Tasmania?

Do you have an opinion, news story or letter to the editor? Get in touch.

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