While staying in backpackers’ accommodation might not be the goal of most 40 something travellers, I couldn’t wait.
You see, I stayed at Launceston Backpackers when I travelled around Tasmania in 1995 for the 50th Anniversary of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race. This turned out to be quite a memorable experience. The fire alarm went off in the middle of the night and while I immediately jumped out of bed, packed my bag and rushed out of the room, all the other backpackers slept through. Didn’t budge. This was before the Childers Palace, Backpackers Hostel fire on 23 June 2000 killed 15 backpackers. That said, I backpackers have short memories and I doubt they’d get up any faster.
However, more importantly, my husband lived at Launceston Backpackers in it’s previous life. The backpackers’ used to be Parkside, a boarding house for country high school students to complete the last two years of schooling as country high schools finished at the end of Year 10.
As expected, returning to Parkside brought back many memories and tales. This included the story of the house mistress dumbfounded by technology. She came in and asked the students if any of them knew anything about bombs. She told them there was a metal box behind the hedge which was ticking. Geoff took great delight in telling me that this was the water meter!
Parkside the building is interesting in itself. Built in 1905, it’s a grand two story Federation mansion…the kind often converted into boarding houses or broken up into flats in later life.
What I noticed straight away, was the grand staircase with its imposing wooden banister, which was just crying out for me to slide down it if it weren’t for the rather painful ornamentation which ruined your fun. The stairs would’ve been great to go bumping down as well if it weren’t a public space. You know what it’s like. There’s always a killjoy out there!
We stayed in the former house master’s room at Parkside but I did manage to photograph a few of the rooms the next morning and loved the quaint window seats. Would’ve made an ideal writer’s retreat.
Anyway, our time at Parkside, or should I say Launceston Backpackers, passed without incident and even though we might be old and gray, we’ll be back.