The Tasmanian Gene
Nothing screams click-bait like a good list. We’ve all seen them constantly plastered on our Facebook feeds, “The 5 best ways to such-and-such”, “10 ways to know if this, that and the other”, “Top 10 things to see in this place” and blah blah blah. So when I searched Google for “The Best Things about Tasmania” trying to find a good list to share in an attempt to create some more activity on our Facebook page, the result was pretty uninspiring. Not in terms of content, because we all know Tasmania has some amazing sights, some fantastic activities as well as great photographers and writers to pull it all together into a fantastic list we can all click on. What I’m talking about is the originality of these lists, whether they are written or photographical. They were all a bit ‘samey’.
Ask most people from mainland Australia what they know about Tasmania. These are the responses you’ll most likely get:
· People who have visited — “Tasmania is awesome, it is so beautiful and we wish we spent more time there. We aim to come back soon”.
· People who haven’t visited but want to — I really want to come and see Mona, Cradle Mountain, Wineglass Bay, Port Arthur, walk through some wilderness and pat a Tassie Devil.
· Wankers — “It’s full of inbreds isn’t it? Haven’t they all got two heads and root their cousins?”
My main point here is the second group of people and their expectations of their visit to the state. Tassie’s main tourist offerings are widely known, well documented, completely awesome and well worth the visit to see and do. Because they are so good (and because of this, so well known), I don’t really see the point in putting them into another list.
One thing that is very special about Tasmania, and you hardly ever hear about it, is the people. And it should be at the top of every ‘best things about Tasmania’ list.
Down here, we are a little bit different.
We know it, and we like it.
Trying to put your finger on it is hard, that is why I’ve called it the Tasmanian Gene. Some comedic geniuses might say the extra gene is a mutation from all of the in-breeding we do down here, to which I will compliment them on their originality. But in all seriousness, the differences in the character traits of your typical Tasmanian compared to our mainland counterparts are very subtle. I have spent plenty of time interstate and overseas, and the longer you stay away, the more you notice it on your return. Just small things; you can almost feel it rather than notice anything tangible to help you define it.
Hobart is frequently voted amongst the top cities in friendliest cities voting competitions; one conducted in 2013 by UK- and US-based travel magazine Conde Nast Traveller had the Capital in second place worldwide! I genuinely don’t believe that as individuals we are any friendlier than our countrymen and women on the mainland, I just think that down here we haven’t lost our sense of community that often happens in the bigger cities. A good example of this is that you will often hear two complete strangers engaged in a lengthy conversation on public transport, instead of the default ‘headphones in and don’t make eye contact’ that you often see in Melbourne, Sydney and the other capitals and larger cities.
Another example of this was the other day when I was in my car and hadn't properly shut the rear door of the station wagon, which promptly flew open in the middle of town. At the next set of lights, the bloke in the car behind me jumped out before his car had even stopped moving to get it closed for me. The willingness to help out your fellow human remains alive and well down here.
At a recent trip to Sydney, I was in a packed bar and ask for a beer. The staff member said “Do you know what? You are the first person to say please and thank you so far tonight”; and this was at about 11:30pm. I was horrified! No matter where you are from, or how good you think you are, surely it’s not that hard to say please and thank you. That sort of thing would never go on down here, well I certainly hope not anyway. These are the small differences I talk about; being smaller, the ability to remember our manners and still be personable to one another hasn't been lost to us.
Sure, we have our fair share of bogans down here, and we are well aware that often we are considered backwards, country bumpkins, and even second class citizens at times, but the fact is we don’t really care what gets said about us. If you think for a minute we don’t know when the piss is being taken out of us then you are missing two vital points. 1) We have heard it all before, and by all I mean ALL. Trust me. And 2) we probably don’t give enough of a shit to give you a reaction. Keep on thinking we are backwards if you want, but we are quite content to live a slightly slower paced life, with our affordable housing, our 10 minute commute to work, living within minutes of world-class beaches, walking and mountain bike tracks, eating our world class seafood and drinking our world class whisky and beer. Say what you will about the state of our economy, the percentage of workers in the public service and so on, we’ve heard it all before and while we have our issues, it doesn’t change the fact that Tasmanian people are awesome, and will continue to be awesome despite what you read about our state.
So scrap all the lists about the best things about Tasmania, and let me assure you that it is the people that are no. 1. And the next time you see someone wearing shorts and a t-shirt when it’s 10 degrees outside, go and say hi, and see if you can spot the difference!
Visit www.gofestiv.com if you are coming down for a visit to see everything that’s happening down here while you are here, and don’t forget to talk to the friendly locals and make up your own mind!