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The Tasmania Chapter comes to a close

AUSTRALIA | Monday, 30 May 2011 | Views [392]

With each day that passed by in Tasmania, the life I’d left behind in Melbourne became little more than a distant memory. The old, tired characters had been replaced by a new, vibrant cast and the plot was not only exciting, but entirely unpredictable. In the moments I dared to glance back at my former, self-imposed circumstances, it often left me shaking my head with a crude mixture of disgust and disappointment: my biggest regret was that I hadn’t left sooner.

Back in Hobart, after our jaunt up the east coast, The Canadian prepared to return to Melbourne in search of a job that would fund his future travels in Australia, while I was left to ponder my next move.

I was less than thrilled about this.

The Canadian’s exit made me anxious; as an integral part of Tasmania for me, I feared that by losing his companionship, I would also lose a vital component of the adventure I’d stumbled into.

What would I do next? Where would I go?

But the answer was right in front of me. Literally.

On the night he was to leave, through mouthfuls of the hearty last supper he’d prepared as a show of appreciation for his two Tasmanian hosts, an invitation was casually extended my way to stay on with them in Hobart. The prospect of being adopted by Fid and Simon, the charming pair of blonde-haired, blue-eyed, childhood friends, as the honorary female member in their otherwise all-male ensemble, was impossible to pass up.

And the timing? Impeccable.

The following weekend marked an annual trip up north to Coles Bay — a short distance from their home town of Swansea — where Simon’s family owned a small ‘shack‘ (read: holiday house) minutes from the water. Located on Tasmania’s east coast, The Canadian and I had briefly passed through Swansea on our way north and, given the size, it gave off the impression that, beyond the casual facade of greetings and polite conversational inquiries, there existed an intricate network of interlacing family histories. Nearby Coles Bay, opposite to the tourist magnet that is Wineglass Bay, was the place where summers were spent fishing and where Simon and Fid first learned to wakeboard.

It already held a special meaning and I’d yet to lay eyes on it.

Having retrieved Fid’s boat from Swansea on our way in, we spent our first morning gliding across Great Oyster Bay and reeling in flathead. As I held the fishing rod unsteadily between my hands, I counted the years that had passed since I’d last gone fishing: I’d sworn it off at some point, deciding that the slow suffocation was unbearable to witness. After a ten-year hiatus, little had changed in my opinion, but I was determined to make the most of the opportunity I’d been handed, welcoming the experience with open arms.

Later, with one of those outstretched hands, I would grasp the handle of a sharp blade and have a go at filleting one of the cold, scaly corpses. I awarded myself with an A for effort; even Fid’s guiding hand could barely salvage the mangled fillet and I returned to the beach to collect small shells and skip rocks.

Over the next few hours, more family and friends arrived, placing me directly in the midst of a complex web of relationships I had little hope of ever fully grasping. I found myself wondering how each person was connected, marveling at and theorizing the meaning behind subtle behaviors that betrayed certain unacknowledged (at least outright) intimacies. Resigning myself to enjoy a privileged, yet quite detached, role in the scene, I was a barely familiar observer.

But oh, was it fun.

The company was marvelous and I spent the night in constant conversation with anyone who would engage me. After some time, conversations faded into one another, leaving me to awake the next day with jumbled memories of cheering as Simon stacked empty beer cans into a formidable tower atop the table and, being only familiar with American opossums, warily stroking the fur of a hungry possum who’d wandered into our party...

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Tags: australia, hobart, launceston, tasmania


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