Having grown up and lived in Launceston for the majority of my life, seeing the way the city has changed is something that I have been reflecting on lately.
As a proud Tasmanian, I have a strong sense of pride and passion of where I am from.
Growing up in Launceston there were things that for me were so very much "Launnie".
Wearing Ugg Boots with a hoodie and a black puffer vest was the staple outfit, hanging with friends in the Kmart car park and going there at random hours of the morning was a rite of passage.
Another popular pastime involved going through the South Launceston McDonald's when a friend would get their licence, and of course, the iconic "blockie route", which involves driving the same route around the CBD for hours on a Friday and Saturday night, for reasons most of us still don't know.
When I travelled overseas, I loved telling people I was from Tasmania.
Even people from the mainland often said they had never met someone from Tassie before, and have never visited the state.
A sense of pride would come over me as I turned into an ambassador for my home state, and explained the great list of things to see and do, and why Tassie was the hidden gem of Australia.
I could go on forever talking about how Mt Wellington is my favourite place in the world, that Tassie has the best camping spots and the best food, wine and spirits in Australia.
This peaked when I visited the US in 2017.
I took any chance I could to mention Tasmania to the Americans I met. It never failed to amuse when they would reply with: "As in the Tasmanian Devil Looney Tunes character?"
One of the greatest moments of my trip happened when my Australian tour group visited a small town in Colorado.
We bumped into another tour group from Australia and upon chatting with another girl from the other group, it took all but ten seconds for us both to say, at the same time, that we were from Tassie.
We screamed, jumped up and down and began talking about Tassie for hours and talked about how she lived in Cygnet.
Everyone thought we must have known each other, but we had never met.
That just shows the bond Tasmanians have. We understand that we are often left off maps of Australia and sometimes seen as "that cold random island down the bottom of the country".
After moving back home from living in Sydney for two years, it was immediately evident that Launceston had evolved.
More restaurants, bars and events had popped up since I had left and one of my first experiences when I came home was visiting Junction Arts Festival.
There was such a great sense of community that I missed while away on the mainland, and being part of a close-knit community where people know each other so well was refreshing to see again.
Sadly for me I missed one of the once-in-a-lifetime events that occurred one cold night in August 2020.
It was a sad moment for me when my dad sent me a text at 2am while I was in Sydney, letting me know it had snowed in Launceston. I had lived in Tasmania for 23 years and the one time it snowed at my family home, I was interstate.
It's hard to explain the sense of comfort and relaxation of being at home and seeing familiar faces at Tasmanian events.
It's one of the things I love best about Tasmania.
The strong sense of pride that people have here for the land, the animals, the people and the places and wherever you are that stays with you.
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