Some stories end with a moral, but I should begin mine with one: Always be willing to read/edit a book your friend or loved one has written. I read my father-in-law’s novel, set in Tasmania, over a year ago, and because of our literary bond, he decided to take me (along with my husband and eldest son) with him to trace the steps of his characters, gathering research.
Tasmania! The name sounds wild and dangerous, like the Tasmanian devils that scavenge there and can be found nowhere else on earth. The island I visited was nothing like that name. Tassie—its Aussie nickname—fits it better, for although the island is untamed, it is sweet. And the devils, at least when they are babies, are adored and cuddled by the locals.
Tassie is a land of grazing horses on soft, rolling hills, but also of jagged mountain peaks swathed in clouds. It is a land full of peaceful sheep and gossiping geese, but not without the threat of quolls and Tasmanian devils. It is a land of crashing waterfalls, but also of serene alpine lakes reflecting the sky. The ocean, deep and powerful, is always nearby, but never with the threat of a hurricane. Tassie is home to cockatoos and wombats, wallabies, and the duckbilled platypus (all of which we saw), but it also felt like home to me, this traveler from the other side of the world.
Tasmania is untouched by time. Fields of lavender stretch to the low mountains beyond. Veiled vineyards and small wooden churches can be glimpsed from the roads. It has an English ambiance about it, with hot tea served from tea pots at cafes, but it also feels a lot like the America my mother talks about from her childhood.
We hiked near Cradle Mountain, through a spongy, green land where fairytale dreams are made. The moss crept up the tree trunks, at the base of which were burrows to shelter small animals. We climbed “the Nut” in Stanley and felt God’s presence hovering over the ocean that surrounded us on three sides. We drank in the lavender at Bridestowe and soared above the Eucalyptus forest nearby on a zip line.
Yes, in discovering Tasmania, I discovered a new soul home. It was a foretaste of heaven. The Australians are worried, though. The new prime minister is considering reopening Tasmania’s old-growth forests to the timber industry. Please join me in praying this doesn’t happen. Even though I may never have the opportunity to glimpse it with my own eyes again, my heart likes knowing that such a place as Tasmania exists.