Aside from the many former Queenslanders residing in Tasmania, people making their home in Australia's island state would not have recognised the name Steven Miles. Well, they do now.
The Deputy Premier and Queensland Health Minister has gone on record dismissing any possibility that travelling Australians would include Tasmania on their "must-do" list. Having ensured an unwelcome redundancy in Brisbane, a door opened to a new life in Tasmania.
Three solid days of driving with a pair of children and a dog was followed by five-to-seven-metre Bass Strait curlers and a date with Biosecurity Tasmania on arrival. Like any good mother-in-law, the SES dropped by several times to ensure our compliance.
Once, I unwittingly entertained a shower at the most inopportune of moments.
Quite certain the lovely SES ladies were about to call in my non-conformity, I dramatically emerged into the freezing conditions draped in a ridiculously small T-shirt blotted with wet patches and dripping shampoo.
Waking from our 14-day hibernation, we were awestruck with the vivid greens of a winter meadow, the stunning gold borne by wattle trees, and the delightfully dark green hues of the Dan Murphy's storefront. Oh, and Cradle Mountain, trout fishing, a visit to Hobart, Cataract Gorge and local markets too.
Soon we met Susan and Peter from Briar's Lane accommodation in Evandale, and nicer people you could not wish to meet. They did everything they could to help us transition to a more peaceful existence and anyone thinking of locating themselves in the area for a few days could do far worse than having Susan on speed dial.
Just a couple of somersaults beyond the opulent Georgian houses of Evandale's Russell Street, we were captivated by the evocative perfume of leather.
As the owner of Lake Leather, Georgie is intent on meeting new people and having a good yarn, whilst selling some superb shoes, handbags or gloves appear secondary to offering the obligatory country charm.
As an avid fan of the TV series Gourmet Farmer, we were unable to resist a visit to Fat Pig farm. Staying locally, we met Anne and Phil at Huon View Cabins and they too went out of their way to make sure we wanted for nothing, even transporting us to and from the farm.
The 12-course lunch included Wessex saddleback pork in various guises harmonised with frost-sweetened brussels sprouts, glowingly fresh carrots, and parsnips that accentuated a terroir second to none.
A chance encounter with the Tamar Valley vineyard Swinging Gate afforded us a wonderful conversation with owners Doug, Corrie, and their famous wine dog Nellie. Keen listeners and boasting rich stories from their horticultural and viticultural background, we spoke at length over terrific wine and finished with a coffee and a few bottles to take home.
Tasmanians have access to such a commodity of which mainland Australians are unaccustomed - old fashioned service. Yet for years I have heard about the intangible divide between Northern and Southern Tasmania. In times past, this rift has reached mythical proportions and even offered the AFL a seemingly all-encompassing judgment excusing them from granting Tasmania a licence.
Whilst this is indeed a point of conjecture, I have shared many conversations verifying the endemic nature of locals. Often, many winters pass before boldly setting forth within an hour of their home.
The voucher scheme unveiled by Premier Peter Gutwein in a bid to stimulate mid-week demand for tourism operators has been flagged as a short-term response to a short-term issue. This may be true, yet such a label may be nearsighted.
"There's too many tourists" and "you can't swing a cat without hitting a tourist" are all too familiar assertions and although nobody could reasonably foresee the current crisis, such contention among locals has created both opportunity and risk.
With closed borders and government stimulus as an excuse to roam more freely without any mainlanders being clubbed by a swinging moggy, is it not plausible that an imminent spike in tourism demand may be reciprocated by further pressure upon the borders reopening? Will Tasmanians place their intrastate travel cue back in the rack and will interstate demand fill the void?
But consider this for one moment. Both Queenslanders and Tasmanians enjoy free ambulance cover, provided by the respective state governments through collection across a raft of revenue stream such as vehicle registrations.
Despite health and tourism appearing mutually exclusive in any disposable income discussion, closer examination of economic realities shows them to be inexplicably linked.
The tourism dollar is paramount for the Tasmanian government to invest appropriately in future health outcomes, and a foundation is required for tourism operators to limit revenue variation due to environmental conditions. Rural sustainability for the service industry demands it.
Why not explore more expansive intrastate tourism provisions for residents through a similarly funded model, as an ongoing policy? Much like a team, surely the total economic value of such a proposal is greater than the sum of its parts.
- Jarrad Ripp relocated to Northern Tasmania with his family in June.