But now that I'm back here, travelling to all of these places within Oz, I can devote some writing time to my favourite places in The Land of Oz...tralia.
Launceston, is in the heart of Tasmania, a beautiful island underneath the Australian mainland on the east coast. Tiny and picturesque, it reminds me of what used to happen in Australia when I was growing up. Shops were actually closed on Sunday, the morning market is the best place to eat and the town is abuzz with excitement as soon as the local game, Australian Rules, or 'footy' as I refer to it, rolls in.
Melbourne is way too busy for that now, which I like. But it's always nice getting a taste of the small town life to slow down once in a while.
The Community Spirit
Luckily for Launceston, my AFL team, the Hawthorn Hawks based in Melbourne play a few games in Launceston every year. The first time I visited Tasmania years ago was for the football and its been wonderful coming back since.
When the game is on, the whole town of Launceston is bathed in brown and gold (Hawthorn's colours). Everyone is supportive and says 'Go Hawks' when you walk past. The most recent time when I was there a few weeks ago, I was walking around a few hours before the match and a woman said: "Sweetheart where are you going? The game's that way."
Another example was when our lovely manager at The Arthouse Hostel was even checking the weather radar to see when the rain was going to come pouring down on us all at the game.
Seeing a whole town get behind your team is something you don't get with AFL in Melbourne. So many teams are based there, so it's great for Hawthorn to get the opportunity that the interstate teams have.
The Idyllic Beauty Just Around The Corner
In Launceston, and actually most of Tasmania in general, you don't have to go far to find something beautiful. You ride out of the airports and there's cows to greet you as you drive past. It's a great change from suburbia and high-rises.
Cataract Gorge, Launceston is also a short walk from the town centre where you can find huge rock formations cradled around the waterfalls and waterways of the Gorge. The imposing rocks seems so peaceful as you walk through, seeing the ducks swim below. With peacocks strutting around and the intense greenery behind, it just makes me want to come back every time.
The town itself is full of lovely old buildings, further solidifying the 'old, rustic country town' vibe that I love so much. There are some newer developments that pop-up every time I come back. but it's always nice walking through and seeing all these offices in old townhouses, and the James Boag's brewery building seen from everywhere in the skyline.
What I need to see more of
In Launceston there's plenty of cultural stuff to do. Because of the football and the Gorge, I often miss going to the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery and The Powerhouse Gallery and Artspace. Which is such a shame. Visiting museums and art galleries is one of my favourite things to do in a new place and I should really make it a priority next time I go. The scenery and the game always seems to pull me away.
Although I did finally get to see the singular tram in Launceston be driven by a Learner driver this year. Coming from Melbourne, I get to see trams all the time. But you never know what you're going to discover.
Launceston can be reached in a few hours via car/bus from Hobart, and there are several flights per day, mostly from Melbourne.
Although small, Launnie really is a charmer.