My greatest failing being a good local has been my reluctance to be a local tourist.
The sentiment is a strange one – when you travel interstate or overseas, it’s a given that you will want to go out and see as many attractions as you can. There is no prejudice or judgement of you if you want to hire a car and road trip aimlessly up and down coastlines, check into accommodation, plan day trips, or eat your way around a region.
Doing the same at home though, almost seems…kitsch? Cringe worthy? Uncool? You’re a local! Why on earth would you want to tour your local area, you live in the area after all. You’re an expert already, right?
I believe the way to feeling a part of a place is to find something that speaks to you in a heart felt and personal way. It doesn’t matter if that one sensation is commonplace and felt by hundreds of others too; how you react to something and interpret its meaning is unique to yourself alone.
That ‘thing’ doesn’t have to be tangible or consistently exist – if you see a stunning sunset/sunrise, chances are that you will not see it again with those exact same colours in that specific pattern ever again. But if that one moment caught your eye and really made you stop for a second, then you’re that one step more familiar with where you live.
So what are the benefits of being a willing tourist at home?
There are obvious ones: economic benefits, supporting local trade and business.
Then there are personal benefits: widening of perspective, cultivation of opinion, increase of general knowledge. Ok, so not everyone is a history nerd like me and wants to learn about the role of the Female Factory in the convict era of Hobart. Perhaps you’re more into high fashion, computer games, or modern architecture.
With fashion it’s easy – Tasmania is home to the oldest weaving mill in Australia; why not take a trip out to Waverley Mills in Launceston and learn about the local wool industry, what it takes to get from sheep to store, seek out the shops that stock those locally made items.
Computer games – join a society and mingle with like minded people. This one’s great fun, and I went to their second annual games night earlier in the year. The night was efficiently run, the place was packed, everyone had a ball.
Modern architecture – get familiar with a few architects and their work, see if they’ve had any recent commissions and then go and seek out their buildings (if they’re accessible and public viewing is allowed), even stay in them if it’s accommodation.
It sounds nearly condescending to say ‘make an effort every weekend or fortnight to get out of the house and explore one place near you’, but really that’s all there is to it. I’ve also found getting to know local bloggers and keep up to date with their own explorations will help you widen your knowledge of new places to check out, or even to just visit old places and re-appreciate them again. You can utilise social media too – explore hashtags on Instagram and follow accounts that interest you. Chances are you will find hidden gems to visit through other people’s experiences. Lachlan Davey from Made In Tasmania said he and his partner have taken to Peak Bagging, so if you’re into the outdoors this is a great way to have a mini competition with yourself (or others) and see how many points you can accumulate from trekking the various peaks and ranges on the list.
If you feel a bit shy about putting yourself out there as a local tourist, safety is always found in numbers, so organise a beach trip, brunch date, afternoon tea, beer meet up, day trip, weekend, or road trip with like minded friends. Some of my best travels within the state have been with a bunch of friends where we just hang out together.