Home is where the heart is 

Emily Baker spoke to five Tasmanian ex-pats about why they left Australia, what leaving has taught them and what makes them return.

Freya Morgan, 28, Prisoner Programs and Rehabilitation Adviser in the Solomon Islands

Emily Baker spoke to five Tasmanian ex-pats about why they left Australia, what leaving has taught them and what makes them return.

``I am currently living and working in Honiara, Solomon Islands. I'm working in the role of Prisoner Programs and Rehabilitation Adviser in the Correctional Service of Solomon Islands under the Solomon Islands Justice Program. This position is an exciting opportunity for me to be involved in developing rehabilitation programs for prisoners throughout the Solomon Islands. I have always had a sense of adventure and love taking on new challenges, particularly in the areas of justice and international development.

``I spent the first 15 years of my life in Westbury. My family moved to Launceston when I was in Grade 11 studying at Launceston College. I completed my studies at LC and then moved to Melbourne to study International Development before moving back to Launceston in 2006 and working at Community Youth Justice.

``I have always had a passion and interest in learning and experiencing other cultures. I have spent a lot of time travelling in Africa and been involved in community music projects in South Africa while I was at university. In 2009 I was selected into the volunteer Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development program. Under this program I was assigned a 12 month position volunteering in the Juvenile Court in the tropical town of Kokopo, Papua New Guinea. My role involved working with Magistrates, Court staff, NGOs, Police and other community stakeholders to develop and improve the status of young people in conflict with the law.

``I love travel, I love adventure and I have always had a passion for working in the area of justice and international development. After my time in PNG, I realized how much I loved the Pacific lifestyle _ it is always warm, the people are so friendly and full of life and laughter, the food is fresh, organic and locally produced and the lifestyle is relaxed and laid-back. I saw this opportunity in Solomon Islands and new that it would be a great challenge and career opportunity for me in an amazing country.

``Every time I land in Launceston and then drive down the Southern Outlet and see the Welcome to Launceston sign and the familiar sites of Launceston in the distance, I feel a strange feeling of nostalgia, relief and comfort. Tasmania is my home and it always will be. I love seeing my family and friends and feeling like I know the place so well. It is a clean, friendly and safe community. I love the people in Tassie, the local food, the nature and the friendly and relaxing environment.

``When I fly back into Australia I often feel overwhelmed at how materialistic our culture is becoming, especially in the big cities. I love escaping this in the Solomon Islands and living a more simplistic lifestyle. I wish Australians would be more forthcoming in embracing cultural diversity. In comparison to many other countries, I believe we are quite disconnected from the rest of the world. Despite this, I will always love the way Australians pull-through to help and support each other in times of hardship and crisis. I also will always really love the Australian sense of humour.

``[This Australia Day], I will be attending an Australian Day Reception at the residence of the Australian High Commissioner.''

Bradley Trevor Greive, 43, author in the USA

ifTasmania's Bradley Trevor Greive is one of the world's highest selling authors, having sold more than 25,000,000 books in over 115 countries. A passionate champion for wildlife and wild places, Bradley Trevor Greive also runs numerous conservation projects around world and is the resident wildlife expert on both the late-night comedy talk-show Chelsea Lately and The Late Late Show. To date, he has had five treatments for rabies following monkey bites and was once face-raped by a large bat (primarily due to his wearing a synthetic musk-based cologne given him by his Mother). Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorBTG, Twitter: @BradleyTGreivenf

``I'm in the USA, travelling back and forth between Alaska and California: Alaska, because I am researching a book about the giant brown bears of the Alexander Archipelago and California because, for my sins, I fell in love with a beautiful American Architect based near Los Angeles and I now spend much of time there. I loathe Hollywood and, to my great shame, I've made matters worse by appearing regularly on American television as a fraudulent wildlife expert. But anyone who has met Amy, My Beloved, will immediately understand why I stay here. For the record I don't consider myself an Ex-Pat, but rather that I am in Romantic Exile.

``I was born in Hobart, however I grew up in the UK and Southeast Asia before returning to Australia for high school. My parents are medical professionals who worked in hospitals and nursing schools abroad and my two elder sisters and I enjoyed going along for the ride. I'm exceedingly grateful to my Mum and Dad for making the world seem a lot smaller.

``[I've lived in] Hong Kong, Singapore, England, Scotland, Wales, New Zealand, French Polynesia, Russia and Costa Rica. Also Sydney, which increasingly seems like a foreign country to me these days. You cannot write about things you haven't personally seen and experienced - well, at least I can't - besides which, the world is a truly fascinating place. I'm very fortunate in that I've been blessed with a very limited sense of self preservation and also that my job is highly portable: I just need my passport, a laptop and some Panadol (for the inevitable hangovers) and I'm good to go.

``My years on Tasmania's East Coast were some of the happiest of my life, but when my three dogs were put to sleep after they attacked a flock of sheep I simply couldn't look out at the Tasman Sea without missing them terribly and feeling both incredibly lonely and increasingly depressed. I decided to accept an invitation to work abroad with Walt Disney Imagineering, which proved to be just what I needed to my recharge my busy brain and start to enjoy life again. I certainly didn't expect to find the woman of my dreams or plan to spend six months living with a family of Vampire Bats in the Cloud Forests of Costa Rica, but there you go.

``Put simply a large part of me never left - I miss everyone and everything in Tasmania; The black-green forests, the golden sand on the beaches dusted with cinnamon shells, the rust and pistachio coloured lichens on the rocks, the many mysterious creatures of the night and deep lungfuls of air so pure it almost hurts to breathe. I especially miss my cherished gang of misfits on the East Coast, Marikas great coffee, driving to Bicheno to collect my mail while listening to the cricket on ABC radio, the incredible local seafood and all of the hilarious sporting and community events: I think I still hold the record for the highest number of balls lost in the dam off the first tee at St Helens Golf Club (six) ... I love coming home.

``Aussies have a wonderful reputation around the world for being fun, fresh-thinkers who are always up for a challenge and a laugh - plus, with few exceptions, we've always managed to stay on the right side of History, so theres almost no one who wants to settle a score us. Also I learned that nothing beats a family block of Cadbury's Dairy Milk Chocolate. 

``[I'll celebrated Australia Day] with the three Ls: Lamb Chops, Lamingtons and Aussie Literature. I might crack open a perversely well-thumbed copy of Voss, by Patrick White, to remind myself that the best thing about Australia is nothing - We have more nothing than anybody else, which is, paradoxically, an extremely special thing to have. When you find yourself in the rest of the world you are often shocked at how noisy, dirty and crowded it is. What I would give for a flock of Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoos to shatter the perfect stillness of an East Coast afternoon to tell me that the rains were coming.''

Danny Carney, 27, researcher in Indonesia

``I'm in Indonesia, splitting my time between working with the largest in-country Indonesian language program in Lombok, and doing research in Central Java. Plenty of surfing in between too.

``I grew up all over Australia; I was born in far-north Queensland, spent some time in NSW and country Victoria, but I consider myself to be Tasmanian. It was in Tasmania that I became the person I am today. I've spent some time working in Malaysia in the past, and have made a home for myself in Indonesia over the last few years.

``Nothing made me ``leave'' Tasmania, but I was certainly attracted to the different experiences to be had further afield. It is only natural to be curious about other cultures and ways of living. I always loved ifIndiana Jonesnf as a kid, his travels and adventures, and I guess, at 27 years old, I am still emulating that lifestyle. It's been fun, so I don't see myself growing up too soon. 

``Tasmania is a very special place to many people, and I am no different. I have family in Tasmania, but it is the weather and the landscapes that draw me back. I miss the seasons; the transition from Autumn to Winter is exceptionally beautiful and the anticipation of Summer is so exciting. Sometimes I will be swimming in tropical paradise and all I can think about is the cold, kelpy waters of Redbill Beach or watching the sun set over the Western Tiers. Tasmania will forever be my home. 

``Living in Indonesia has made me realize how easy life is in Australia, and how hard we sometimes make it for ourselves. We are fortunate enough to have a clean environment, access to health and education, beautiful scenery and great people - we really are the lucky country. Yet there are some aspects of Australian life that irk me. Australians could be much more open, inquisitive and generous than we are. As a society, Australians are too soft on their government - when Indonesians are upset with their government they close down the capital city, when Australians are upset with their government we write Letters to the Editor (under 150 words, of course). 

``This Australia Day, myself and 88 Australian students will be hosting a barbeque at the University of Mataram for our Indonesian friends.''

Nathan Berry... photographer in Japan

``I am a teacher, writer, director and photographer, but not necessarily in that order. I am originally from the North West Coast but I have lived and worked in Tokyo for about 9 years now.

``Moving to Tokyo was probably one of the most thrilling and scary things I have ever done. Life back home had become routine and I really wanted to get out there and do something different. Originally I'd thought of moving to Sydney or Melbourne, but then I saw an ad online offering teaching positions in Japan so I thought, "Why not?". Before you know it, I was packing up my flat and selling off all my stuff.

``I didn't dislike what I was doing or where I was living. I love Tasmania, but I really wanted to experience more of the world and to do that, I had to leave.

``I probably come home once every two years. I miss my family and my friends but mostly I come home to recharge. There is something about being away from home that wears you down, and being in a place so big and crazy can weigh on you after a while. I miss the slower pace and the relaxed atmosphere that permeates Australian culture. Oh, and meat pies. I ate my fair share of pies when I last came home!

``One of the things I've realized since moving to Tokyo is how small the world really is. When you are drinking in a random bar in Tokyo and you bump into a guy who grew up on the same street as you, just as the barman cues up ifA Land Down Undernf, you finally understand what that expression really means.

``Every country I've been to, every airport I've passed through, I've run into Australians. It's somehow reassuring. 

``It's not often that Australia Day falls on a weekend so I don't usually get the chance to celebrate it properly. I sent a shout out to some of my Aussie mates this week. We'll probably just have a couple of Aussie brews somewhere and have a few laughs. I might even tune into the Triple J Hottest 100, it's been years since I've done that.''

Tim Brennan, 36, Taiwan

``I grew up in Launceston but have spent most of my adult life in Melbourne, Hobart and Sydney. I am currently spending a year in Kaohsiung in the south of Taiwan with my partner so she can do her PhD field research and I can continue my slow and faltering attempt to learn Chinese.

``I spent two years travelling and working overseas in 2006 and 2007; during that time I lived in London, Belfast and Beijing. I also spent a semester living in China while I was at university.

``The pull of the rest the world [made me leave], I guess. I find the experience of getting to know another city fascinating. A lot of big cities in Europe and Asia have serious downsides but they do have a bustle and vibrancy thats pretty exciting.

``I come back because being away reminds you how fortunate we are to have the lifestyle we have have and how many great things there are about Australia. I really missed being able to watch Mitchell Johnson and his moustache ripping into the Poms during the Ashes! Seriously though, other than friends and family the main thing I miss is the quality of the environment. In the Asian cities I've been to the air quality is pretty poor and it's a lot easier in Australia (especially Tasmania) to go into the bush and escape the crowds. 

``As a white person in Asia you really stick out in way that a foreigner in a big Australian city never would. It has made me realize how multi-cultural Australia is and think about how beneficial that extra familiarity with cultures from around the globe is to a country as geographically isolated as ours. It has also made me realise how unusual I (and lots of other Australians) am to only speak one language fluently. One other thing that will sound crazy (and I'm sure is completely unscientific) but I swear the light and the shade of blue in the sky is different in Australia to anywhere else.

``To me, Australia Day is just a day to hang in the sun with friends. I feel like Australians used to express their love of Australia in a understated, laid-back way but in the last decade or so a chest-thumping, flag-waving, in your face patriotism has emerged and is most evident around Australia Day. That's one thing I wont miss.''

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