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I'm a nomadic mama with four lovely daughters. We're travelling Australia in a small housebus — meeting inspiring people, learning lots and re-thinking everything. I feel passionately about travel, good design, alternative education and conscious parenting.

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14 January 15

A group of intrepid Melburnians are thumbing their ways around Tasmania this month — braving the changeable weather conditions as they wait on the side of the road for a helpful lift. Competitors in The Big Green Hitch are raising funds for Friends of the Earth as they race to certain locations around the state.

Hitchhiking competitors, The Big Green Hitch, Mount Field National Park, Tasmania, January 2015
The group of hitchhiking competitors rest and connect together after reaching Mt Field National Park.

Points are allocated for the first, second and third teams to arrive at their prearranged location. Everyone gets to rest for one day, and then the slowest team are sent on their way first, with the previous winners being the last to leave.

It’s less of a serious race than an excuse to meet a range of interesting people around the country and spread the news of what they’re doing. The hitchhikers report that the drivers who pick them up are eager to assist them, and many drivers feel more competitive about their riders’ standing in the competition than those who are actually in the race!

Pademelon and our vehicles at the campground, Mt Field National Park, Tasmania, January 2015
Fat little pademelons graze among the campsites at Mt Field National Park.

We parked last night at the campground of Mt Field National Park, primarily to continue a conversation that had started on the roadside when a friend and I passed each other on the road and then each pulled off to say hello. In camping alongside a friend and talking long into the night, I’m reminded how good it is to share openly with another person. Sometimes I’m reticent with my issues because I’m reluctant to open myself up to deeper examination.

As I share the depths of my story with those who live alongside us — those issues that I would never share online — I’m met with the same level of intimacy. I’ve heard stories of single-parenting that make me weep, how a partner’s death has led someone into the pursuit of soul midwifery, tales of parents who never spoke of their gay adult children for fear that their chuch-mates would ostracise them, and how family members are often the first to curse and the last to forgive.

Michael Leunig cartoon about vulnerability
Cartoon by Michael Leunig.

Brené Brown says:

“The difficult thing is that vulnerability is the first thing I look for in you and the last thing I’m willing to show you. In you, it’s courage and daring. In me, it’s weakness.”

So I’ve lately discovered that in saying, “Hey, I’ve got this thing going on. What do you think?”, I’m rewarded with wisdom and gentle encouragement. Long may that continue!

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12 January 15

The girls have experienced an intensive series of drawing instruction with cartooning workshops over the last three days. I enrolled Aisha and Brioni in a cartooning class before I realised that Bradfield Dumpleton was also offering workshops at the Cygnet Folk Festival last weekend.

Cartooning workshops with Bradfield Dumpleton, Tasmania, January 2015
I appreciate the opportunity for the girls to sit in a classroom together and learn new material.

Cartooning workshops with Bradfield Dumpleton, Tasmania, January 2015
At the music festival, Bradfield took the kids' ideas and mixed them to create bizarre, musically-themed characters.

The workshops at Cygnet were only one hour long, but today’s class lasted two hours. I asked the girls what they thought about the classroom situation, and they weren’t fazed by having to sit at a desk for that length of time. The material and interaction remained interesting enough that they could embrace the subject matter easily enough.

Cartooning workshops with Bradfield Dumpleton, Tasmania, January 2015
Bradfield has a way of relating to children through humour so that he comes across less as a tutor than as a buddy showing them new tricks.

Cartooning workshops with Bradfield Dumpleton, Tasmania, January 2015
At the end of today's workshop, Aisha shows me the two pages of her completed drawings.

Cartooning workshops with Bradfield Dumpleton, Tasmania, January 2015
These cartooning workshops are advertised for children aged 9-12, but after I talked with Bradfield, he agreed to let 8yo Brioni participate. Aisha only wanted to go if her sister could come — not because she was afraid to do something by herself, but because she didn't want Brioni to feel like she was missing out!

During the summer-holiday period, intensive lessons are often offered for kids, and these tend to suit our lifestyle better than traditional schooling. After three days of drawing lessons, the girls have improved immensely, although Brioni would prefer to find someone who can show her more life-sketching techniques. So I’ll keep an eye out for that and hopefully someone suitable will cross our paths soon!

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11 January 15

Once a year, the little village of Cygnet — less than an hour’s drive south from Hobart — is transformed into a bustling international music festival. This year, professional acts from as far away as Denmark joined Tasmanian musicians as part of the official Cygnet Folk Festival line-up.

Contra dancing at Cygnet Folk Festival, Tasmania, Janary 2015
Lana and Brioni eagerly join the line-up of dancers. They participated last year and so remember some of the steps.

It was a pleasure to meet up again with our friends from the Hobart contra dancing group. I felt like we had returned to the embrace of a small, vibrant community.

This activity was the only ticketed event I got to all weekend, as we were busy the rest of the time with kids’ activities or at camp. Still, as the girls get older, I know we’ll start participating in music festivals at a more sophisticated level.

Band performance at Cygnet Folk Festival, Tasmania, Janary 2015
Tasmanian locals Bea and the Boys keep us dancing with lively compositions.

During the day, thousands of spectators merged with the performers on the street and in the parks. Venues offered master-classes, workshops and concerts. Everything from slam poetry to finger-picking was on offer, and we loved to browse the market stalls which showcased the best of Tasmanian crafts.

Cygnet Folk Festival, Tasmania, January 2015
Crowds collect in the green centre of town where marketstalls and an open stage transform the park into an entertainment precinct.

Market stalls at Cygnet Folk Festival, Tasmania, January 2015
Many stallholders are showcasing handmade handicrafts and foodstuffs.

Musicians at Cygnet Folk Festival, Tasmania, January 2015
The public performing stage offers an eclectic range of performances.

Taka playing at Cygnet Folk Festival, Tasmania, January 2015
In the heat of the day, we sit on the grass directly in front of the stage to encourage our friend Taka on the hang drum.

We camped alongside Taka last summer, and he’s still carrying a note in his wallet that Brioni wrote for him. It says, “I am your number 1 fan.” Taka started playing the hang last year and has since used it to busk his way around the world, travelling to Europe last year and returning to Australia for the summer.

Circus-skills workshop, Cygnet Folk Festival, Tasmania, January 2015
Circus-skills are brought outside from the Big Top and are offered instead on the lawn to anyone who wants to participate.

Musicians at Cygnet Folk Festival, Tasmania, January 2015
The pavements are packed with buskers. Just walking up and down provides enough entertainment that you don't actually need to enter the main performance venues.

Musicians at Cygnet Folk Festival, Tasmania, January 2015
With the pavement real-estate all taken, Bea and the Boys play on the back of a tip-truck!

The magic of Cygnet Folk Festival is in the crowds who eagerly participate in the events, who share the communal spaces at the campground and who cheer the musicians who are brave enough to perform in public. We love coming to Cygnet Folk Festival, and as soon as tickets go on sale in September, we’ll be securing our places at next year’s event!

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