Australia

Moving to Launceston

We were planning on going back to New Zealand and finishing the Te Araroa this year, but COVID-19 obviously got in the way of that. I get very frustrated when I’m not achieving anything. So it was the logical step to go to university! I decided to do nursing because it’s very in-demand, it’s a practical kind of job, it’s flexible, and because I plan on doing international health work or volunteering in the future.

I’ve never been to school and don’t have an ATAR or any other kind of end of school score. I was worried that nobody would take me on as a student. But I found some loopholes and applied at 15 different universities in 5 states and territories, at 18 different locations. For some reason, people keep thinking that this is hilarious…

Anyway, I got into the University of Tasmania (plus 3 other places) so had to move all the way from the top of Australia to the bottom. Obviously, my parents didn’t want their almost 17-year-old daughter moving interstate by herself. So they and my 4 siblings started packing.

We’d planned to leave at a later date but as state border restrictions were tightening we left earlier. It had been raining and flooding for the past week, so we were very disorganized. We only had one morning to pack the trailer, clean the house, do loads of last-minute chores and leave.

Day 1

Ingham – Charters Towers, 246 km

The majority of the first day was spent cleaning and packing. We left fairly late and drove to Townsville to visit my aunt and cousins before making it to Charters Towers.

We were very crammed into the car to start with. I had to sit cross-legged the entire trip because there was no foot room. Every time we stopped I’d find something else to get rid of or eat. By the end of the trip, we had enough room to change sitting positions.

Dad, Holli, Asha and Forrest used our tiny cabin in Charters Towers as a gym. They just couldn’t miss a workout! Asha accidentally told dad she’d done 200 push-ups, rather than the 100 they’d agreed to. So Dad just had to beat her and do 201. Then Asha realised her mistake and had to catch up with him!

Day 2

Charters Towers – Surat, 959 km

We just drove and drove and drove and drove. We did see an emu with 17 chicks crossing the road. Emu chicks are so ugly but cute at the same time!

There was a sign saying the road was closed between Springsure and Injune, but people were still arriving north so we decided to try it. We had to drive through water over the road but it wasn’t deep and we got through.

Day 3

Surat – Numurkah, 1283 km

We were only going to drive to Forbes. But then we read the fine print on the border crossing forms….

We found out that we had to drive all the way through NSW without stopping because of COVID-19 laws. This meant that we were in the car for 17 hours. We went through the NSW/Victoria border at 11 pm and headed straight to the nearest motel to sleep. The nearest motel was ages away because everywhere was booked out. It seems that everyone was in the same boat as us.

I can’t actually remember much about the day. It’s all just a fog of driving in my brain. The one thing that stands out was crossing the border and seeing so many police officers and how good it felt to finally go to bed.

Day 4

Numurkah – Port Melbourne, 231 km + ages on the ship.

Because we’d driven so far the day before, we had a lot of time to waste in Victoria before taking the 12-hour boat trip on the Spirit of Tasmania from Melbourne to Devonport overnight. We fell asleep in a park and saw the house Ned Kelly was born in.

The ship seemed so much smaller than it did when I was last on it. Probably because I was only 8. We took our pillows and blankets on board. When we got tired we just fell asleep on the carpet, at the feet of the uncomfortable chairs. One bonus of COVID-19 is that the ship was nearly empty, we had plenty of room!

Day 5

Somewhere in the middle of the Bass strait – Launceston

Tasmania looked so idyllic with the early morning light and a light blanket of mist. I stood on the deck watching as the ship came up to Devonport. All we had left to do was to drive the remaining two hours to Launceston.

Now, let’s see how well I manage to settle in, whether I fail university, what adventures find me and if I’ll die from the cold. I really think I might freeze to death, considering I’ve spent most of my time in the tropical far north of Queensland. Wish me luck!

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