Tag Archives: Devonport

Responding To Tasmania’s Jumping Castle Tragedy.

Many of you would have heard about the freakish, tragic accident in Devonport, Tasmania where so far six children died when a jumping castle was swept 10 metres into the air by a fierce, rogue gust of wind.

Map of Tasmania. Devonport is on the North Coast roughly in the middle.

Although we live on the Australian “mainland” (as Tasmanians call it), for us it’s still quite personal. My husband is Tasmanian, and in particular, from Northern Tasmania. While Geoff was born and raised in Scottsdale on the North-East, his dad came from Penguin which is just over 30 kilometres away from Devonport and Geoff has families spread right throughout these parts. Indeed, numerous branches of his family arrived in Tasmania in the 1830s, and let’s just say there was no TV back then. Many of his ancestors had massive familes, and there was one guy in particular who really clocked the numbers up. He had 24 kids with two wives. So, you can appreciate how his family tree has been very prolific and spread something like a weed. I stir him about being related to anyone with old time family ties in Northern Tasmania, and I’m yet to be proven wrong, although it’s only been a small sample size.

Our two rogue children on our son’s last day in Year 6. The photos went downhill from here.

So, like everyone else we were shocked and heartbroken by this freakish tragedy, but we had the added concern of whether we had family involved and it took awhile for them to release the names of the children. So, while we were one of the families pulling up at the school not knowing whether our child was affected or not, we were connected. Indeed, so many people are. Moreover, quite a number of my friends have kids making the transition from year 6 which is the end of our primary school system here, and into year 7 next year, which is the start of high school. So they’re really feeling it too.

At the end of their last day at school, the school children form a tunnel through the playground and the Year six’s run through, and I took this close-up of their hands.

For awhile there, we didn’t know the names of the children who had passed away. So, far they’re not familiar. However, but one grandfather looked familiar and would’ve fitted in well at Geoff’s sister’s place for Christmas. Moreover, there’s definitely a sense of Geoff and his family genetically belonging to this community. There’s a noticeable “look”. Being an island, Tassie is a close-knit community, but it’s also had its internal divides too. There’s traditionally been a very strong divide between North and South, and to a lesser extent the West Coast as well. Like most island communities, Tasmania is isolated and they refer to the refer of Australia as “the mainland”. One of Tasmania’s other claims to fame is that it often gets left off the map, although during covid having a moat was rather advantageous and I think some politician down there talked about having a moat and a drawbridge, and not being afraid to use it back in the early days of covid.

So, for this to happen in a place like Devonport, it’s monumental. With an estimated population of 25,747 in the 2020, it’s not a village. However, with a web of established families and networks, it’s a particularly close community – especially now.

Sharing a bit about Devonport with you isn’t going to help any of these families, but it helps me feel closer. It helps us feel closer to a community where we have indeterminate connections. A close friend of ours, who is married to Geoff’s best man, is a school counsellor at a nearby school, and was at Hillcrest School on Friday providing counselling for families and children – such a tough job but she’s put years into her training and really strives to develop strategies for connecting with children, and in particular children who are doing it tough for a whole swag of reasons. I’m not her mum, but I am proud of her and so grateful she was there. However, as we move into school holidays and Christmas, there needs to be a changing of the guard as school staff go on holidays. They will need support for the long haul.

This was awhile ago now, but it’s one of my favourite dance photos of her.

Meanwhile, tonight we did what we do at the close of every year. We went to my daughter’s end of year dance concert. With all the stunning and thought-provoking dancing, it always makes me reflective, and when I see the younger ones dance, I also remember our daughter’s progression through all the grades to where she is now about to embark into the senior teens. I wasn’t being morbid. I wasn’t teary or sad. However, it certainly hammered home what it would mean if it happened here, and a sense of what the families at Hillcrest School are going through, and the students. Six of their precious friends are gone and for some it’s going to be very lonely going back to school next year. You hope they were all someone’s bestie, and know there are now six huge, and very painful holes in the playground, as well as at home. Holes they will never be filled, but I pray there will be some kind of healing. That maybe being in this together, they can help each other muddle through, and as the Beatles said “I get by with a little help from my friends.”

They are in my prayers.

Rest in peace dear sweethearts,

Love,

Rowena

D- Devonport, Tasmania: Crossing Bass Strait…A-Z Challenge.

Welcome to Day 4 of the Blogging A to Z April Challenge! Today, after visiting Australia’s capital Canberra yesterday, today we’re off to Devonport in Tasmania and you’re in for a treat. That’s because we’re travelling by boat on board the Spirit of Tasmania which runs between Melbourne and Devonport. I should point out that this is NOT a cruise ship and since we’re travelling in the virtual realm, you won’t catch the coronavirus. I promise!

DSC_3556

So, while it’s not a major city, you could say that Devonport is the Gateway to Tasmania when you’re traveling by boat.

DSC_3561

Family Photo taken in Devonport just before heading home on the boat.

It’s been three years since we last went down to Tassie. My husband, Geoff, was born and bred in Scottsdale in the North-East and families on both sides date back to early settlement. While most of his family were free settlers, the original Newton was a convict who was sent out Van Dieman’s Land via Nolfolk Island at Her Majesty’s Pleasure. He was caught red handed wearing the clothes he’d stolen.

Have you ever been on the Spirit of Tasmania? Here’s a link to our experience.

We hope that you and yours are keeping well and safe and pray for God’s protection and comfort at this time.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Tasmanian Weekend Coffee Share.

Welcome to another Weekend Coffee Share.

This morning, we’ve having coffee at the Hobart Airport Holiday Park in Tasmania. We’re leaving at 10.00 AM and unfortunately we’ve run out of the provided sachets of tea and we’re down to International Roast, which we Australians generally deride. This stuff is what I’d call “Clayton’s Coffee”…the coffee you have when you’re not having coffee.

map_of_tasmania

As we need to pack up and vacate the place, this is going to be a very hasty chat. If you could see the state of my bag which looks like an exploding volcano with everything piled up on top, you’d understand that I really have to get moving.

How’s your week been?

I’m afraid this is a rather rhetorical question as I’ve been having woeful, if any, WIFI.

So, I’d encourage you to look back through my recent posts to catch up on our Tasmanian adventures and stay tuned for more.

Catching the Spirit of Tasmania from Melbourne to Devonport.

Pengiun, Tasmania

Exploring A Ferny Paradise.

Deloraine.

Blown Away By Stanley

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS My views are currently sitting at 59,734 hits. If I was at home, I’d eagerly watching the count and celebrating reaching 60,000 with a bang but must keep moving.

Catching the Spirit of Tasmania: Melbourne to Devonport via Bass Strait.

While you can fly to Tasmania, we decided to catch the ferry…the Spirit of Tasmania. This meant we had our own car, without the hassles of a hire car.

I should also point out that there are no passenger trains in Tasmania, so driving is the way to go. That is, unless you have any crazy ideas about circumnavigating Tasmania on foot. Tasmania might fit into a tiny 1cm square at the bottom of Australia on the map, but it’s much, much larger than you think and I blame that on the hills. It’s seemingly been scrunched up and I’m sure it you rolled it out flat, it would be twice the size and potentially even larger than Victoria.

We decided to do a day sail on the way over and, we’ll be travelling overnight in a cabin on the way back.

cars-boarding-spirit-of-tasmania

Drivers were told to line up literally bumper to bumper to conserve space. I was relieved Geoff was driving as I have no sense of how much space is around the car!

Usually, you have to get to the wharf at 7.30 AM for a 9.30AM departure. However, being our Summer school holidays here, it’s the peak time to visit Tasmania and the ferry was chockers. We’d received a text notifying us that due to high volumes of traffic, they were starting to load at 6.00 AM. Not wanting to take our chances and leave anything to fate, we woke up at 5.00AM (in the middle of MY night!!) and pulled up at 6.15AM.

DSC_6124.JPG

It was only a short drive to the wharf and we soon spotted the Spirit of Tasmania. A former North Sea ferry, it was absolutely ginormous. …and it needs to be.

goodbye-melbourne

Leaving Port Melbourne.

Perhaps, you haven’t heard about that notoriously rough stretch of sea called Bass Strait, which lies between Tasmania and “the Mainland”. However, here’s footage of waves crashing over the deck and this seemingly giant ship at its mercy… A Treacherous Crossing. Apparently, a number of cars broke free on that trip and were damaged. Bass Strait is not for the faint-hearted…especially, when it’s having a bad day!

Of course, we didn’t show our daughter any of this footage before we left and kept very, very quite about the furies of Bass Strait.  Had she had her radar out, she should have been suspicious. Silence and absolute avoidance is a dead giveaway, that there really is something to worry about.

However, I suspect that she was also caught up in the throws of avoidance. We said nothing. She said nothing. Then, the mighty moment came and we were driving the car into the bowels of the ship (or was it the stomach cavity?) At this point, the little voice did make a few discreet inquiries and wasn’t overly sure of herself but being part of the family, she had no choice. She was onboard. There was no escape.

As my Dad used to say to me, such experiences “put hairs on your chest”. That’s all very well if you want hairs on your chest, but what if you’d rather go without? As a kid, I never quite managed to ask him that and perhaps that’s now a question for when we get home.

rowena-spirit-of-tasmania

I hoped my “Titanic” pose  wasn’t prophetic!

We had booked our seats fairly last minute and so we could only get one reserved seat. This meant we were travelling cattle class, which was quite fine for a day trip. We took turns napping in our single seat and spent the rest of the trip on level 7. That is, except for the kids, who wandered around a bit.

geoff-and-kids-on-spirit

I did venture out on the deck a few times…mainly to take a few photos. I enjoyed being out in the open soaking up the real sea experience. However, as my hair was beaten from side to side and I wasn’t entirely stable on my feet, I didn’t stay out on the deck for very long.

By midday with 6 hours still ahead, I was totally over looking at blue sea and was desperate for a “land ahoy”! While there is some novelty value in being out at sea, I found the experience similar to driving down the freeway staring at gum trees. It started to feel monotonous.

first-glimpses-tasmania

I’m not sure about exact times, but possibly around 5.00 PM we started to spot the Tasmanian coastline in the distance. Although we still had quite a way to go, not to mention however long it took to download the car, it was a relief and the coastline looked rather picturesque.

At this point, I should also let you know that we had a very smooth journey. Indeed, the staff said it was the smoothest sail they’d had in months. Given how our daughter felt about rough seas and hearing our friend’s talk about sea sickness and taking precautions (which we didn’t have), it was a relief.

It might have been around 7.30PM by the time we drove into Devonport. Found an open supermarket and loaded up.

We were in Tasmania.

Yippee!

xx Rowena