A weekend in Panama.

I don’t like camping.

I just find it really in tents. (This joke works better out loud.)

I just find it really in tents. (This joke works better out loud.)

I’m not one of those sorts—and there seem to be a great many of you, to be honest—who get excited about camping and bush walking and the Great Outdoors. I’m just not into it. I’m a child of the internet, of screens and amenities and microwaves. The Easy Indoors, if you will.

And yet, every so often, I think, “what the heck”. These whims are generally linked with music festivals, and I get tricked into thinking that my love of music overrides my dislike of camping. If I leave it long enough, I also get tricked into thinking that my love of music overrides my dislike of music festivals.

This, dear readers, is how I ended up at a festival called Panama.

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To its credit, Panama had a heckload of pluses. Only in its second year this year, Panama limited tickets to 1000 punters only, was located on a property in the middle of nowhere (aka Golconda, roughly north east Tasmania), boasted a small but neat line-up for its two days of music, and was certainly on the more affordable end of Australian music festivals. I roped a couple of friends into joining me, we bought Friday passes to get up there early and get settled the day before the festival rush, and we road tripped our way to the great land of no phone reception, narrowly avoiding a speeding ticket for 16km/h over the limit (great north eastern magic) as we rushed to make it in the gates on time.

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Friday night went better than expected, I won’t lie. While I’m not a fan of camping, I am a fan of assembling tents. I’m not sure why. The great satisfaction that comes with completion, perhaps? Let’s go with that. We scored a lovely posse just under a tree and got our two tents up without fuss as the sun was setting before a brief exploration of our surrounds. The festival grounds were a stone’s throw away, as were the drop toilets. Ah, camping. Ah, yes.

This makes camping look WAY better than it actually is (though this moment was A+).

This makes camping look WAY better than it actually is (though this moment was A+).

Saturday morning was slightly more eventful. Saturday morning was a harsh reinforcement of my dislike for camping, and Saturday morning was the one lingering memory of a festival called Panama 2015 I will take to my grave. Saturday morning I found a leech in my hair. It was big, it was fat, it was thoroughly sated after gorging itself on my scalp, and it fell into my hand as I ran said hand through my hair. It wasn’t the best way to encounter a leech for the first time, I’ll say that much. Do you know what’s generally tough to come by when festival camping? A hot shower. I spent an hour and a half sitting in my car, focused on the rear-vision mirror and desperately trying to clean my bleeding scalp and hair with baby wipes. It went as well as it could have gone while my scalp was still bleeding thanks to the leech’s anti-coagulant bite.

I got out of the car for the first time in an hour and a half, convincing myself to leave it be and try to enjoy the rest of the festival, when a bee stung me on the neck.

Look, the rest of the festival was fine. The drinks were good, the food was (mostly) good, the rest of the insects on the property left me alone. The crowd was lovely, chilled and not obnoxious at all (I won’t miss you one bit, Splendour in the Grass punters!), and even contained a number of faces I knew from down in Hobart. The property was beautiful (that dam!). The music was great—there wasn’t one performer or band that played that left me thinking, “I could do with not hearing this”.

Ben Salter and Friends.

Ben Salter and Friends.

But I’m never, ever going again.

Despite the festival looking like this at peak times.

Despite the festival looking like this at peak times.

And these excellent companions.

And these excellent companions.

And beautiful drizzly mornings like this.

And beautiful drizzly mornings like this.

And this zero waste policy that was actually 99.9% effective all weekend.

And this zero waste policy that was actually 99.9% effective all weekend.

And this picturesque crap just hanging out in the middle of the festival ground.

And this picturesque crap just hanging out in the middle of the festival ground.

I’m actually serious. WITNESS.

Cat travel prep.

If you know me, you know that I have a little tortoiseshell shadow called Jellyfish. I got her from the RSPCA in Brisbane when she was a wee runt of a kitten, and now she’s a big and beautiful girl, nine years old. There was no way I was coming to Hobart without her, and I had to give a fair bit of thought as to how I’d get her down here.

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There are two clear options with interstate pet transfers—air or road. There are easily identified pros and cons for both options. Air is a far, far shorter total travel time for your pet, but it’s also more of a hassle to organise if you’ll be driving your car down (side note: why get your car freighted when you can have a road trip adventure?). If I was going to have my cat flown down, I would have had to either leave her with friends or a cattery in Brisbane for a few days while I drove down, so I could be there to meet her at the other end, or I could have put her on the plane myself in Brisbane and then had a cattery pick her up in Hobart and hold her for a few days until I got there.

The third option would have been to leave her with friends, drive down to Hobart, fly back up to get her and bring her back on the plane with me—or the opposite, bring her down to Hobart on the plane first and leave her in my new, empty house for a few days while I flew back up to Brisbane, got in my car and drove down. All of these options meant that she’d be spending at least a few days with STRANGERS!!! in a STRANGE PLACE!!! (her thoughts, not my words) and for anyone who knows my cat, that may not have been very good for her already delicate nerves. She’s easily startled and/or terrified of most things that exist on this earth. It also meant shelling out money for the flight/s and the cattery (or asking for a HUGE favour of friends).

So instead, I chose to bring her in the car with me. Her delicate nerves would still be tested, of course, but I would be there with her to talk her down from the ledge for most of the trip (which, to be honest, would probably actually just make ME feel better, as this is a co-dependent relationship). The only cost to incur was an extra $20 for a kennel on the Spirit of Tasmania ferry that I was using to bring my car into Tasmania anyway, and a little extra for the pet-friendly stopover accommodation (the Ardeanal Motel in West Wyalong; a solid option).

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Roadtrip cat!

I’m going to waffle on a bunch more about preparing my (or your) cat for a road trip, but I’ll spare the front page and put this behind the cut, so keep reading only if you feel so inclined. Continue reading »

Why Tasmania?

I’ve heard this question so many times in the last two months. Has it really only been a little more than two months since I announced my intention to move from Brisbane, Queensland to Hobart, Tasmania for no better reason than “why not”?

Looking back, I should have started this blog back then, but to be honest it took a while to sink in that it was really happening—that I was really moving. I couldn’t tell you the exact moment, though a few spring to mind.

  • The moment I handed over the keys of my lovely rental house in West End to my dear friend and newly ex-housemate a couple of weeks ago?
  • The night before I set off on my roadtrip down to Tasmania, when my mum and I were finished playing life-object tetris to fit everything in my car?
  • About halfway into twenty-three hours of driving in three days, listening to the mix CD my friend Liz made for me, with every second song being a farewell track that made me tear up?
  • Driving down the Midland Highway from Devonport to go pick up the keys to my (fingers crossed) adorable new rental property, a place for me to call home in Hobart?
  • The moment I looked out the window of said rental property and saw Hobart in front of me, just outside?

All these moments played a part in me acknowledging that it’s real. This has happened. This is happening still! That’s the truth to it; this is happening still. I have been here a week today (happy weekiversary, Hobart) and even this afternoon as I drove out to New Norfolk, I had a moment of confusion where I knew I was driving my car, and I knew I was driving through a beautiful stretch of scenery, but I couldn’t get those two dots to connect. I was driving MY car in TASMANIA? But HOW? Oh, yeah…

I decided to start this blog for a couple of reasons. One of them is that I don’t have any friends in Hobart (yet? Please let the full statement end in “yet”) and writing blog posts may be a more sensible time-waster than online shopping (have I mentioned I’m currently funemployed? That money’s gotta run out someday—later rather than sooner would be nice) or just staring at the internet/my computer screen.

The other reason is so that the next time somebody asks me, “Why Tasmania?” I can reply with, “Why don’t you check out my blog?”