Went to Tasmania for a quick break over the past few days, and although it wasn't my first time, I was struck, as I always am, by the sheer beauty of the place. Launceston is particularly lovely,
with its perfect combination of history (the well preserved old buildings and paved streets) and contemporary trendiness in the shops and facilities. By the time I happened, entirely by chance, on a restaurant called the Black Cow Bistro it felt a bit like fate. Everywhere we went, from the wineries to the shops, we met transplants and tree-changers - people who had left the big smoke to do what my characters did. Without exception, the real people we met seemed happy and didn't look back, but in 'real life' you rarely get the juicy under the skin backstory (especially not at a brief counter meeting). None had gone the full self-suffciency route either, but the dream of escaping the 'big smoke' for a bucolic, slower paced lifestyle built around food, drink and farming is obviously one that is relatively common. Just a few minutes walk (steeply uphill if you take the Zig Zag path or an easy but stunning walk over the Kings Bridge, created in 1867, if you're feeling lazy) is the Cataract Gorge. Though I'm a writer (and obviously not a photographer), it's hard to describe the sheer (shear) beauty of the place but considering its access to the city and the remote ancient setting, it's pretty close to perfect. As soon as you're hungry there is amazing food and a very cosmopolitan city close at hand. I'm still not over the delicious smoked trout I had at the Stillwater located in the old Ritchie's Mill, just after we completed the walk.