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Challenge Accepted

We got back from Tasmania just over a week ago and I’ve held off posting anything because, well, dudes I don’t know where to start.

Tasmania is sorta familiar turf for us: this is our third trip there, and I often describe it as one of my many spiritual homes. But we haven’t been back for nearly five years: our last visit had to be cancelled, literally two days before flying out, because I had to suddenly have hip surgery.

And oooh I love it. This holiday was anticipated with much unseemly salivation from both of us. Six months into my first year as a freelancer; twelve months since M had a holiday; the first time in years, literally years, we haven’t checked email while away. We were absolutely ready for a break. We packed books, knitting, slippers and hiking boots, and there you have a complete summary of the trip. We stayed in cabins and cooked for ourselves, experimenting with new recipes and stretching the budget as much as we could, in order to save up for the local wines/whiskies.

So what was challenging? Over the course of the trip, I read James Gleick’s The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood and it was incredible. It’s too early to tell, of course, but this may be course-changing for me. An excellent book that discusses information theory, which necessitates it discussing the history of communication and touching on semantics and linguistics. But it also touches on technology, mathematics, thermodynamics and quantum mechanics, among others: Gleick does an amazing job wrangling these diverse topics into a fun, cohesive read, but I had to step back from the book and chew on things to figure them out. M and I enjoyed many long days sitting in the sun in our cabin, reading and talking about our books (M’s restorative reading: the magnificent Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Hofstadter). Talking the ideas through let me grasp stuff I haven’t even dabbled with since high school: and hot damn, I’m excited.

I haven’t recreationally read much science or maths since God knows when, and I got it! I understood it! I’m so excited.

Meanwhile, on the days we weren’t luxuriously reading Clever Books and snoozing in the sun, we were hiking in Freycinet National Park (also Douglas Apsley National Park). And man, talk about challenging. But man! Talk about rewarding! Our first hike was some four-or-five hours of varying terrain and it was heaven. Uphill, downhill, along the beaches, through the scrub and over the cliffs, it was one of the most wonderful walks we’ve ever done — as well as one of the longest. We ate scones on an isolated beach and sandwiches on another: each a vast white stretch of private surf. It was amazing. Another day, we climbed Mt Amos, without realising when we set off that it would be a climb. That was occasionally scary and led to long discussions about how we need to know and express our limits and be willing to turn back when things get tough. But we did it. We did something super hard and super rewarding.

I stand on the sands of Wineglass Bay

Wineglass Bay: what passes for winter in Tasmania

So the trip combined mental challenge with physical challenge, and all the rewards of both. I needn’t also mention the beach walks, the evening peacocks, the jokes, the cooking, the fires, the wine, the long, lush sleeps — man, I love me some travelling.

Our final two nights were in Hobart. After a couple of weeks of bushwalking and introspection, it was a massive whoop to hit the bars, restaurants and art galleries of Hobart. Hobart is a beautiful, interesting and awesome place to be, and we maxxed it out. We visited the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, which is currently featuring an exhibition of Patrick Hall’s art: so wonderful it nearly had me in joyful tears. The rest of the gallery and museum had me tearing about and gasping happily. We visited MONA and were equal parts delighted and challenged, once again. (We saw Cloaca. We did not stay for its feeding nor its pooping.) We drank martinis and prosecco; we looked at starfish in the harbour; we (I) had life-changing porridge at an achingly rad café; the good life.

This was one of the most wonderful trips I’ve had. I feel like I was challenged in every direction, and rose to meet each one. I felt excited and revamped, and by the time we got home I had a huge list of things to sample, try and shoot for.  Since coming home, I’ve signed up to Khan Academy, started reading more science, and taken care of some jobs I’ve been whining about and putting off for months (helllooo new back fence!). Because I’m good at hard things, it turns out! I’ve been exploring new music and books, and I’m so excited — taking my brain places it’s never been, and it’s like a cooped-up collie visiting the dog park.

I went a lot of places while I was in Tasmania, and now I’m back, squared.

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