Tasmania? I know, right!
You are probably wondering what I was doing on a tiny island off the coast of Australia when I am supposed to be in Europe. Valid question – and here is the answer.
Dad was supposed to join us for our anticipated trip through Hungary, Austria & Slovenia In April 2012. However, as detailed in previous posts, he suffered a Grand Mal seizure on the lead up to the trip and unfortunately was no longer able to fly. I am so grateful to my selfless and loving mother who recognised the importance of me spending this time with dad and arranged for me to come out to Aus in May. We figured if Dad couldn’t come to me, I would come to him. And if Dad couldn’t have a holiday in Europe, he would get one in Australia. With that, a plan was born to travel with Dad to one of his Bucket List destinations: Tasmania.
There was no time for jetlag! After the excitement of seeing the family, my gorgeous niece and brand new nephew… travel plans were in full swing! Dad got packed up (and somehow snuck a teddy bear into his travel allowance!) and we were touching down in Tassie. I didn’t know where I was, or what I was doing as my multitalented and splendid mother had booked the whole trip for us. So the two of us fumbled our way to a rental car and Dad comforted me as I had a mini freak out at the wheel (I had not driven a car for well over a year). There aren’t many roads leading out of Launceston airport, so we picked one, and suddenly we were starting our great adventure together.Dad drove me nuts pointing out all the motorbikes he ‘could have’ been riding along the insanely picturesque roads. I thought to myself that this was fair enough, since his dream had been to ride a Harley across Tassie. I had bucket-loads of sympathy, imagining how awful it would be to have your license taken off you on medical grounds. However, after the hundredth motorbike flew past, accompanied by the hundredth moan and groan from Dad – the bucket load of sympathy slowly emptied out! I had to do something, and quick! So I wound down all the windows and blasted some country western, instructing Dad to imagine we were on a motorbike. It worked, and I no longer had to endure the motorbike envy!
So in this fashion with strained vocal chords, we arrived at the ends of the earth: Straun. As I had no idea where we were headed, I can safely say that this was absolutely not what I expected. It had to be one of the most isolated and non-eventful corners of the planet. There was no mobile reception, no internet, no grocery shop, no doctor…. I was wondering if mum was trying to punish us, or whether I had taken a wrong turn. It turned out that this was indeed Straun and it was lucky in that moment that there was no means of communication for interrogating mum!
The blessing was of course the time spent with dad, who was delighted to be anywhere with me, and we found joy in each other’s company. It turned out that I had given Straun a premature bad-wrap, and we immensely treasured our time there. One day we took the old steam train up through the mountains on the rack-railway and learned about the tin mines and history of the settlement. The following day I was astounded by the glass topped Gordon River. It was natures’ mirror, I could not tell where the land ended and the water began. Plenty of hugging and gazing ensued as we both realised what a special place we had found ourselves in the midst of. If you asked Dad what he remembered most, he would probably say the food! We ate like a King & Queen – sampling the best seafood straight from the harbour and enjoying a raft of daddy-daughter dates!
Soon enough it came time to move on to Cradle Mountain National Park. We were suprised to find snow in May… I felt as though snow was following me around the globe! The park was as perfect as I had imagined, and my soul rejoiced to be back in the Aussie bush. It is the same every time I return to Aus, the affinity I feel with the outback. I love the English countryside, but the Aussie landscape is in my DNA. There must be something about being born and raised in a country.
We selected a day walk around the lake nestled under the cradle. When I think of special memories I have with my dad – this one has to top the list. I will forever be grateful for this time, as Dad was already beginning to struggle with the mobility on his left hand side. There were some stumbles off the boardwalk, but Dad successfully completed the circuit. Unbeknown to us at the time, the tumor was growing back, and only one month later Dad was back in brain surgery. So this time has become incredibly precious in my memories. There is no possible way Dad could accomplish this walk anymore. I will always picture his beaming face as we stared up at that cradle together. You can see in the pictures what a happy day it was. I see it as our stolen time together. Thank you mum for giving us this opportunity x
Dad and I embarked upon a few other jaunts around the national park, along with a visit to the Tassie Devil enclosure where we were able to take part in a (loud) feeding. This gripped Dad’s fascination, but not as much as Dinnertime when the finest banquet was laid before us! We shared days worth of laughter, childhood memories, and dreams for the future. Our stolen time was over before it began, and will full hearts we headed back to Dad’s beloved Narrabeen.
My dad is the definition of bravery. Through his struggles I have learnt the true meaning of character and perseverance. He has faced too many losses for one man in his lifetime, yet he still fronts up to every challenge with his lopsided grin 🙂 Although Dad can never see our lives here in London, he is part of everything we do. Our time in Tassie was worth a thousand trips! We created memories that can never be replaced, and they will be with me for the rest of my living days.
I love you my Dad x