This Valentine’s Day, I need to declare my new passion. I’ve fallen in love, head over heels — with Tasmania.

Love from Tassie logo, Legerwood, Tasmania, December 2012

I love the changing landscapes — the forests, the creeks, the beaches, the icy highlands, the rocks and the expanses of water. I love the towns — the architecture, the oddities that remind me that I’m overseas, the shops that haven’t been updated since they were opened sixty years ago and the different building materials that I haven’t seen in other places. I love the people — the enthusiastic immigrants, the friendly locals, the other travellers and the way we all agree that Tasmania really is a special place.

While touring the island, I’ve heard inspiring stories from all sorts of people. There was the man who is still so painfully grieving his separation from his wife that when he heard my own story his reaction was, “Well, at least you know David still loves you.” There was the strong woman who described the years she devoted to healing herself and simultaneously healed her land, transforming it from a junkyard into a forest paradise where travellers are always welcome. There was the doctor who forfeited his future career in order buck the system and change the way interns were treated while they studied. There was the couple who have been travelling Australia for eight years and have no plans of stopping.

Each person I meet here loves Tasmania too, and that collective passion contributes to this special place, making it a desirable and fun location to visit or settle. We’ve started making some solid friendships here too — safe people with whom I can talk freely and connect on a deep level, and the girls have new best friends and surrogate grandparents who love them dearly.

I’m thrilled to have had this summer fling. It’s been a healing journey for me, and although we leave next week, it’s only because I’m promising myself that we’ll return next summer.

We’ve only just sampled a smidgen of Tasmania’s jewels. Now I know what we’re missing out on, we’ll definitely be back for more!