Ruth has plenty of stories to share - from her first visit to Tasmania to becoming an Australian citizen, and every adventure along the way
Back in early 2013, Ruth Dawkins would have struggled to point Tasmania out on a world map. Born on a small island in the north of Scotland, the freelance writer and environmental campaigner had travelled extensively around Europe, but never visited Australia.
“We’d been living just north of London for almost two years when my husband, Young, arrived home one night and told me he’d been approached about a job in Hobart,” says Ruth. She immediately fired up her laptop and did a Google search, but the initial results weren’t promising.
“Absolutely not,” Ruth said to Young. “It’s too far away, the spiders are poisonous, and it appears to be on fire.”
Despite her initial reservations, Ruth, Young, and their four-year-old son were persuaded to visit Hobart and see the place for themselves.
“We only came for five days, and I spent the first two recovering from jetlag, but we completely fell in love with the city,” says Ruth. “We stayed down on the waterfront, and everything from the delicious fresh food in the shops, to the spectacular view of kunanyi/Mount Wellington, to the warm, friendly welcome we received – it all persuaded me that this was somewhere we could have a happy and fulfiling family life.”
A lasting memory from that first visit is when Ruth took Tom, their young son, to a playpark in the city.
“He came running over from the swings shouting at me to look at the parrots. I thought he was joking, I had no idea there were parrots in Tasmania, but sure enough there was a huge flock of eastern rosellas. They were beautiful, and I thought that for my son to grow up in the kind of environment where he could see something so special every day could only be a good thing. Almost six years on, and we still refer to that place as ‘the parrot park’!”
Ruth and her family moved to Tasmania in September 2013 on a temporary work visa. In early 2016, they secured permanent residency, and on Australia Day 2019 they took part in a citizenship ceremony at Long Beach in Sandy Bay.
“Our move to Tasmania has worked out better than I could possibly have imagined,” says Ruth. “Gaining our citizenship earlier this year was a very emotional experience – it was incredible to sit alongside so many other people, who had all been on such different journeys to reach that point, knowing that from now on we would be full Australian citizens.”
Since moving to Hobart, Ruth and her family have fully embraced the opportunities on offer in Tasmania. Working from home as a freelance writer, Ruth splits her time between writing feature articles for newspapers and magazines – often about the state’s food, wine and wilderness areas – and copywriting for local clients.
“It’s such a privilege for me when I do work with organisations like Parks and Wildlife or Tourism Tasmania,” says Ruth. “I feel like I have that perfect balance of perspective because I’m familiar with a lot of the state’s attractions now, but I’m still new enough that I can see things with fresh eyes and really appreciate them.”
After four and a half years with the University of Tasmania, Ruth’s husband now works as a freelance consultant, specialising in philanthropy and communications.
“The flexibility of freelance life is working well for my husband too,” Ruth says. “Now that he’s not tied to specific office hours, we are able to spend a lot of time out and about as a family. We love visiting the National Parks, walking along the beautiful beaches around Hobart, and taking advantage of the festivals and arts scene. It feels like there’s something new on here almost every weekend!”
While Ruth’s family and friends back in Scotland would love to see more of her, they’re able keep up to date with the stories of Tasmania that she shares on her personal blog DorkyMum. Many of them have also made the trip to Tasmania for a visit, and it never takes them long to appreciate why she has made it her home.
“We’ve been very lucky to have so many of my family and friends, and Young’s friends from the US, come and stay with us,” says Ruth. “It’s always really lovely to spend some time showing them our favourite things in Hobart and surrounds. Willie Smith’s Apple Shed always seems to be a crowd pleaser, and most people have been amazed by MONA.”
With Tom happily settled in school, and both Ruth and Young enjoying the variety of clients they’re working with, it seems like their move to Tasmania has been an overwhelming success. Just one question remains – what about all those spiders Ruth was so afraid of?
“Not a big deal!” she laughs. “We get the house sprayed annually by a fantastic local company, so I think we’ve had fewer spiders in the house here than we had in the UK. Thank goodness!”
Are you interested in making a move? Make it Tasmania.