All Roads Lead


It takes me ages to adjust back to the different rhythm of Sydney and I am always glum at having to return from Tasmania.

We enjoyed our time in Bicheno, a sea-fishing village on the east coast of Tasmania. A highlight was the fairy penguin tour where the penguins are so accustomed to their human audience they cross between legs to reach their burrows. It had to be the best fairy penguin tour we’ve done.


I had ideas for a future book set in Tasmania and yes, I fell in love with another house, this time in Cygnet.

We ate too much from Mures Lower Deck. Screamed at Swansea over a huntsman loose in the car (except of course for David who doesn’t share my spider phobia). Saw Neil Gaiman produce ‘old magic in the air’ at the glamorous State Theatre in Hobart and David Byrne perform his brand of hip magic to an enthusiastic 5000-plus crowd at the too-cool-for-school Mona Foma.

I bought a ton of books from the always wonderful Imperial Bookshop in the city. I love browsing for hours in this secondhand shop where many treasures lurk. It’s the only bookshop I’ve encountered where the owner says a couple of the selected books were over-priced and he would have to reduce them.

I signed copies of the B-format of Poet’s Cottage in Dymocks and Fullers. Both stores were packed and the registers were constantly in action, I’m delighted to report. It’s always lovely to meet the staff in these stores and get to know faces behind names. If you are in Hobart and would like a signed copy both stores now have ample stock. It really was so great to hear how enthusiastic the staff were not only over how beautiful the cover is but also how pleased they were to see it was set in a Tasmanian sea-fishing village.

It was also a thrill to see the airport in Sydney is also well stocked with the B-format of Poet’s Cottage. I always feel a rush of excitement when I see it on the shelf.

I loved hearing shop assistants in Tasmania call me darling, and was enthralled as always by pink-eye potatoes, fresh fish, the silver-grey light, and the spectacular scenery. It was a wrench to leave the land of my ancestors.

But for now I have to shake off our too-brief Tasmanian break. My daughter has an operation due. I have a new book to plan and the school year is about to resume.

Returning was made a little easier by seeing Mike Scott and The Waterboys play at the beautiful art-deco State Theatre in Sydney. It was a great concert with a mix of their new darkly poetical material paying tribute to Yeats and some of their old classics. which bought the audience to their feet.

But for me, all roads always lead to Tasmanian seas.

18 Responses

  1. Heather Quenneville January 30, 2013 / 12:12 am

    Hello Josephine, you describe going home so perfectly, and what Tasmanian trip wouldn’t be complete without a Huntsman! I too, share your phobia. Did you notice how dry it is at the moment? I always feel a little displaced when I come back to Melbourne, like I’m caught between two worlds. I brought a beautiful art deco tea set from the Antique store in Ross. Now I just need Poirot and Miss Marple to come to Tea and all would be complete . You would be most welcome too, of course. Kind Regards, Heather.xx

    • josephinetalepeddler January 30, 2013 / 5:36 am

      Dear Heather, thanks so much for your kind invitation to your tea party. I accept of course and it would be lovely if the Duchess of Death herself was there to pour the tea for us whilst she sipped a cup of cream. (I read that Agatha loved to drink cream). Yes, it’s an awful feeling when you feel that you’ve left part of your soul down there. It really takes me weeks and weeks to adjust back to my normal routine. I did not notice how dry it was but the midlands might have been worse. And you know how much I love that shop at Ross! My husband had been under strict orders to check the car properly for spiders but being a Sydney boy it did not occur to him that they actually lurk in the cracks of doors and wait until you’re trapped by your seat belt before they make an appearance. They are on thing about Tasmania I cannot take but I’ve had quite a few in my Sydney house this year which is just not cricket! Take Care and hope all is well. Much Love xx

  2. Kylie Mansfield February 1, 2013 / 9:36 pm

    Imperial bookshop is now on my long, long, long list of places to check out on any future travels.
    Re the huntsman in the car … lets just say that it happened to me once and my first instinct was to jump out of the car – which I did – I was the driver, and I was driving (albeit slowly and in a manual so the car stalled). My mother, in the passenger seat was less than impressed. But I didn’t care! Anything with eight legs, a furry body and a name that contains ‘Hunt’ should NOT be messed with! Spiders are my worst fear – right next to public speaking!
    Also glad you got another idea for a book … write fast Miss Josephine! x

    • josephinetalepeddler February 2, 2013 / 2:24 am

      Hi Kylie, my husband is threatening to send me to the Taronga Zoo phobia course where you have to handle a bird eating spider. I do have a reason for my fear and that’s when I was a baby I tried to eat a huntsman and my mother caught me with it in my hand (and half in my baby gob) and screamed so loudly that I’ve remained petrified ever since. I was so scared at the one in the car that I didn’t bother trying to get my daughter out of her seat beat and selfishly got myself out of the car first. (Very slack mother moment. She has not let me forget it. ) They are horrible in cars as they can be so dangerous. My sister had one in her car once on a major highway and she stopped the car, got out and pulled all her clothes off in a panic thinking it was on her. Sometimes when there’s an accident and nobody knows why it happened I think a spider might have come out suddenly and freaked out everyone.
      Public speaking I can handle a lot more than spiders! I know some people say they are more afraid of public speaking than dying however!
      Thanks for the good vibes on the new book. I really think this current one (not the one I’ve just handed in) is going to be my strongest yet. I’m very excited about this book. Hopefully my agent will be as well. Enjoy your weekend and hope you get plenty of reading, writing and dreaming done.xx

  3. Karen Brooks February 2, 2013 / 11:05 pm

    Oh dear! One of the reasons I love living in Tassie is because I thought there were no huntsman! I have been here two years and not seen one… *gulp* Have I been living in a fool’s paradise? After experiencing the dinner plate size ones in QLD and northern NSW for years, it was such a relief to release my fears (I too am seriously phobic, Jo, so empathize completely!)… Now I am anxious! And don’t feel bad about diving out of the car first… I ran from the house once and left my kids inside with the spider… Ashamed to say. Mind you, they were 8 and 10 and screaming and laughing – at me! Lol! And no wonder you are phobic! OMG! That’s like a horror story!!!
    But yet again, a lovely post, Jo! And yes, Neil Gaiman and David Byrne were fabulous! *swoon* xx

    • josephinetalepeddler February 3, 2013 / 9:20 am

      Dear Karen, I am afraid to tell you that Tasmania is the land of huge spiders. I have a thousand huntsman tales from growing up there. You’ve been fortunate dear that you haven’t encountered any yet. You must always check under the visors of the car and in the doors. I can’t believe we were in the same places in Hobart! I did look out for a tall beautiful blonde but couldn’t spot you at either place. Now that I hear how big Queensland has the spiders I may reconsider ever going there again. I’m so pleased to hear that you did the ‘bad mother’ thing as well. I was quite shocked I could leave my own child strapped in screaming next to the huntsman whilst I got myself out! Even writing that publicly I cannot believe that I could act like that but it’s such an instinctive horror when you encounter them so close. One minute I was jotting down notes for an idea for a book and the next all hell broke loose. Yes, I am a total wuzz… Hope you are well beautiful Karen and the writing is flowing Thank you for visiting me. xx

  4. Jessica February 3, 2013 / 8:29 am

    Josephine, I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed poets cottage. I read the novel twice, it was written brilliantly. I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of Currawong Manor, I will be first in line to buy the book and devour the pages. Thank you for sharing your journey with us, the readers. It’s so pleasant knowing we are able to interact with the author, and follow your progress. All the best with future pursuits 🙂

    • josephinetalepeddler February 3, 2013 / 9:11 am

      Dear Jessica, thank you for your beautiful comment which has brightened a rainy Sunday night for me. It means a lot that you enjoyed Poet’s Cottage so much you read it twice. Thank you also for taking the time to leave your feedback. It’s wonderful to hear that people enjoyed the tale. If you liked Poet’s Cottage I’m sure you will really enjoy Currawong Manor as well. I am at the moment very excited about the book I have just started (we always work ahead in publishing). Too soon to talk about it here but it’s a book that I’ve been wanting to write for many years. Hopefully my agent will give it the nod. Thank you again for enjoying your time at Pencubitt and following the web I wove. I don’t update as much as I used to but I still try to do blog posts a couple of times a month so you will be able to follow any progress here. All blessings and warmest love to you. Josephine xx

  5. LISA HOWARD February 4, 2013 / 9:56 am

    Dear Josie
    wow, has that photo of the house in Cygnet had my Dad intrigued. Dad grew up in Cygnet & still has 3 brothers living there (& being Tasmania, more relatives than one can count!) He recognised the house, but could not street place it, nor the people whom have lived there over the years. Call in the brothers!!! Information & stories – with many grins & chuckles have since followed (for some reason I am not being told all the stories!!) Dad has had a wonderful time reliving the many memories your photo invoked. Thank You!! Apparently it was built in 1880 for a Doctor. It is currently up for sale by TPR Realty. Local legend suggests the house is haunted. Hoping in some small way this helps. Take Care Of You, Lisa Howard

    • josephinetalepeddler February 4, 2013 / 10:35 am

      Dear Lisa, that gave me a laugh and you have me craving that house more than ever now! A haunted house overlooking the bay sounds perfect for the tale peddler. I really, really want that house for my writing retreat and Mum has already volunteered to look after it for me the rest of the year. My sister lives just up the road and walks past it twice a day with her guide dog and so it would be lovely to be there for her. But you know how bad I am – every time I go to Tasmania I lose my heart to a house. I am still not over my last trip down there. If a job ever came up for David in Hobart, I would fly the plane myself to get home. Give your Mum and Dad my warmest love. Thanks for giving me a smile tonight and you take care of you as well gorgeous girl. xx

  6. LISA HOWARD February 4, 2013 / 8:27 pm

    Dear Josie
    Can imagine your Mum living in my favourite part of the world! We have just come inside this morning after bagging up freshly dug (quite literally – dug this morning) pink eyes, vine ripened tomatoes (the ones that taste the same as when we were kids) black heart cherries & strawberries, which were picked this morning before the sun came up, for Dads side of the road veggie truck. Not wanting you to feel home sick at all!! Dad said to tell you, look up our address (they have never moved), get in contact & he will send you over some freshly dug pinkeyes – obviously the best in Tasmania 🙂
    Love to all

    • josephinetalepeddler February 5, 2013 / 9:36 am

      Dear Lisa, well obviously those pinkeyes would be the best in Tasmania! You have had me salivating all day thinking of them. I have such simple tastes and a perfect meal would be a large bowl of pinkeyes cooked with fresh mint, a dab of butter and to follow a bowl of Tasmanian raspberries with a serve of King Island Cream. There could be nothing finer than to pick all your own vegetables fresh. It’s a dream of mine to have a cottage in the country with chickens and a large vegetable patch. I keep thinking I must start to grow a few things here but even all my herbs packed it. I seem to be very good at roses, geraniums and very large trees. You had me wondering last night what your dad would think of the ‘new’ Cygnet. It’s referred to here as the Byron Bay of Tasmania. Over the years when I’ve been visiting my sister there it’s changed so much. Is it legal to ship pinkeyes over? I have to admit I have bought them back in my case before like some guilty gluttonous smuggler but I do love them so much. But all food tastes better in Tasmania as we both know! xx

      • LISA HOWARD February 5, 2013 / 10:14 am

        Dear Josie
        Dad loves the new Cygnet. He loves that people are choosing to live there & enjoy the sheer beauty, from the water to the bush. He loves that his old home town has come to life, although he does look very quizzically at some of the new locals!! He is a soon to be 78 year old Cygnet boy! He has fabulous memories of the obligatory 7 mile walk to & from school – from what I have gathered over the years everyone in Cygnet walked 7 miles to & 7 miles home from school no matter where you lived. I have often had these lovely visions of children walking through the bush & just sitting at some magical 7 mile point, with hundreds of children scattered throughout the glorious countryside, the teachers making there way amongst them-, the fishing, the togetherness of growing up in a small town where everyone cared for one another, the games with mates through the apple orchards, school at Lourdes Hill (catholic ) & even the 7 mornings a week at mass. Best of all his memories though, of course, are the footy matches!!! No need lovely to feel like some guilty gluttonous smuggler with pinkeyes, very legal to take them out of Tassie – we regularly post them to my nephew Nicholas in Victoria. Just a dab of butter? Truly? Comfort food at its best. Let me know your address, Dad will post them straight away 🙂

  7. josephinetalepeddler February 5, 2013 / 10:41 am

    Dear Lisa, okay. I did lie about the dab of butter but it is a public forum and I didn’t want people to think I am too greedy clogs. What a beautiful reply you gave there Lisa. You should get your father to write all those memories down because once they do go the stories get lost. Dad told me some but I still couldn’t get them all from him before he died which was very sad. You painted a beautiful picture there for me of Cygnet and made me homesick you devil. My address is PO Box 926 Broadway, Sydney 2007 but I can always get some next time I am over to save your dad the trouble and cost. Lucky Nicholas hey. Why can’t you get pinkeyes in other states? Thanks again Lisa for your beautiful picture. xx

  8. Catherine February 18, 2013 / 11:48 am

    Hi Josephine I’ve just found your blog through Carla Coulson’s lovely site and thoroughly enjoyed this post. I’m a Sydney author living in northern about-to-be-spring Italy and the blue sky in that Cygnet shot just kills me! Plus the rock shelf and swilling water. Looking forward to reading more about Sydney+ life. Best of luck with the new book ciao cat

    • josephinetalepeddler February 18, 2013 / 11:56 am

      Dear Catherine, thanks so much for your comment and yes, the light and sky in Australia really does hit you in the heart doesn’t it? It is lovely to meet you through the talented Carla and I look forward to exploring your blog and world as well. Italy sounds such a wonderful place to be for inspiration and I can’t wait to satisfy my desire for more travel through your blog. xx

  9. Vicki Archer February 19, 2013 / 6:29 am

    Hello Josephine,

    I just wanted to say hello and say that I saw your gorgeous portraits on Carla’s blog… It looks like you had a fantastic time together and that it was so much fun… The one of Daisy is divine… they all are… you look so beautiful and radiant Josephine…

    Congratulations on another book ready to be published… and your Tasmanian holiday sounds about perfect…

    • josephinetalepeddler February 19, 2013 / 7:16 am

      Dear Vicki,
      Thank you so much for your comment! I am so delighted you enjoyed the photographs Carla posted as you know how much I have loved seeing her work in your books.
      I was fortunate they had a very wonderful make up artist on the shoot and the the YSL éclat hopefully helped to disguise all the late nights working towards deadline.
      But it was a beautiful day and a joy to watch Carla work her magic. I am so happy with the photographs. I ordered so many from Carla but couldn’t help myself. They are just something to cherish as you would know so well! I think Carla captured Daisy very well. She is filled with mischief and spark but she caught her more reflective side as well that people often miss because she is such a large personality.
      Thank you so much for your congratulations on finishing Currawong Manor. Would love to see the books sell into France. A French Poet’s Cottage would be special.
      Much Love to you and your family, I did see John at school pick up and he was also thrilled to see the photos!
      Love Josephine xx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *