It could be a street scene in any south-east Asian country. Except it’s not.
‘Mr Tulloch, my students love your book and it would be great if you could come to meet them.’
It was 1988, and I’d just written my first children’s picture book, a collection of very simple stories for young children entitled, unimaginatively but honestly, Stories from our House. It had the advantage of wonderful illustrations by Julie Vivas, famous for her work in Possum Magic, Australia’s best selling picture book of all time.
I was flattered by the teacher’s invitation and arranged the visit, a little nervous about what would happen when I got there. Reading the stories would take five minutes. What could I offer after that?
‘Where is your school, exactly?’
I’d heard of Cabramatta, and what I’d heard was not good.
Resolute Bay, Kuringai National Park. Where are all the people?
‘We do live in an amazingly beautiful city, don’t we?’ says my friend and hiking companion Duncan.
How could I not agree? We’re sitting on rocks by a beautiful beach with spotless sand, surrounded by spectacular forest. We’ve just been admiring millennia-old Aboriginal rock carvings. It’s the peak summer holiday period and we’re less than an hour’s drive from the Sydney Harbour Bridge, technically still inside the city limits. Yet we have it all to ourselves. Continue reading
The view from Devil’s Corner. That’s Freycinet National Park in the background. I’ve ridden from there. Well, I say ‘ridden’ but I wheeled the bike up the steepest bit.
That long, sweeping descent comes only after you’ve slogged up to the top of the hill. Push into that gale for a day and it may eventually become a helpful tailwind. For every idiot driver who almost squeezes you off the road, there are many courteous ones who overtake slowly, giving you wobble room and a ‘good-on-yer-mate’ wave.
Cycling the wild east coast of Tasmania certainly brings its share of both challenges and joys. Continue reading
For once we were close to the action on Sydney Harbour.
Midnight is normally way past our bedtime.
If Mevrouw T and I ever bother to celebrate the changing of the calendar, it’s usually a nice dinner with family and friends, switch on the telly to see the children’s fireworks at 9pm and that’s about it.
This year, a friend won Sydney harbourside tickets and kindly invited us along. Continue reading
If every day could be like this, I’d almost be content to stay for the term of my natural life.
Many of the first white residents could wait to get off Maria Island.
Convicts transported here in 1825 built Aboriginal-style canoes, begged or bribed whaling ships to give them a ride or tried their luck on the swim across the strait to mainland Tasmania, a few kilometres away. To see the island now, you wonder where they’d rather have been. Continue reading
The view from Devil’s Corner. That’s Freycinet National Park in the background. I’ve ridden from there this morning. Well, I say ‘ridden’ but I wheeled the bike up the steepest bit.
You have to earn your fun on a cycling tour. Between Freycinet Peninsula and Swansea is the ominously named ‘Devil’s Corner’.
A wizened local rider I met at Coles Bay has warned me about it. ‘The worst bit of the Tasman Highway, that is. Blind corners, speeding drivers, no shoulder…I wouldn’t try it myself.’
Thanks a lot, mate. That’s rather like saying, ‘If I wanted to get there I wouldn’t start from here.’