Simon and Anthea Rix found their forever home on the Tasmanian north west coast.
On a small stretch of coastal road between the Tassie towns of Penguin and Ulverstone, world traveller Simon Rix found the perfect home for his family.
The Rix family are no ordinary clan. Australian-born Simon has lived in the UK, the Seychelles (where his mother grew up) and South Africa, working as an acclaimed modelling photographer in Cape Town. His wife Anthea is an intensive care unit (ICU) nurse with a master’s degree in critical care nursing, as well as an accomplished painter and sculptor. The couple have two children, Jamie and Kiara-Lee, and was their son Jamie who was the determining factor in their move to a regional patch of Tasmania in 2017.
“We moved from South Africa to Melbourne in 2010, living at a frantic city pace for seven years, with Anthea working full time at the Alfred Hospital ICU. When Jamie was diagnosed with moderate to severe autism I left work and home-schooled him,” explains Simon.
A Victorian autism-specific school proved unsuccessful and the stimuli of city life became increasingly unbearable for Jamie. While moving to rural Victoria was floated, this left limited career options open. It was during a visit to see friends that the Rix’s discovered they wished they’d settled in Tasmania directly from South Africa.
“When I came to Tasmania to hand Anthea’s CV into the hospital and to visit Jamie’s prospective school, the principal and I couldn’t find a suitable day to meet up. So then she asked what I’m doing over the weekend and she arranged to meet me on a Sunday to give me a full tour of the facility. Where else would that happen?”
On this same trip, Simon looked at the map and took a shine to a road hugging the coast between Ulverstone and Penguin. It was September and all the residents’ flowers were in bloom. He also noticed the train approaching and saw the locals who were beachside giving it a wave. With Bass Strait just metres away, he knew he had found his new home. A few months later the Rix family were unpacking their belongings in Penguin.
“I just love it here,” smiles Anthea. “There were about 360 staff at the Alfred Hospital ICU. You’d barely see the same person twice. At the North West Regional Hospital in Burnie we have a tight knit team which I much prefer. It’s wonderful to bring the skills I’ve gained in larger hospitals to Tasmania, and to work with such a welcoming team of professionals.”
Anthea works almost full time in ICU, becoming immersed in her art after hours. The talented water colourist and sculptor has had her works featured in the Penguin Creek Gallery and local restaurants. Having new found space and time for her creative pursuits, Anthea has been moved by the reception of the Tasmanian arts community.
“Everyone has been so supportive,” says Anthea. “I’m selling work online and hosting exhibitions, it’s been so unexpected to be received in this way here.”
The family are lapping up life in Penguin. Kiara-Lee is a regular chatterbox with locals on the beach and thriving at her Penguin District School. Jamie has gone from one to four days a week at the School of Special Education North West. Simon is exploring new career opportunities and is currently a photographer for John Deere Australia, and their partner company RDO Equipment. He’s also working as an automotive photographer for a Penguin-based restoration company and delving back into family photography, portraiture and some modelling work.
With their move to Penguin, one of the family’s greatest gifts is their new found time. Simon, once the member of multiple bands and a talented music fan, enjoys teaching his daughter new guitar chords. No longer are they spending hours in traffic commuting to doctor’s appointments, photography shoots and hospital night shifts.
“Despite a small population on the north west coast, we have all the infrastructure we need. There are hospitals, shops and our speech and occupational therapists are nearby, and it’s all linked by brilliant highways. We drive along the main roads and see cows and horses. It is countryside living but with everything at our fingertips. When we discovered this coast, we knew it was exactly what we’d been looking for all along. And anyway, who wouldn’t want to live in a town named Penguin?”
To see Simon’s photography work visit: instragram.com/riximages
To see Anthea’s artistic work visit: instagram.com/anthearixart
Find out more about Penguin, Tasmania.
Are you interested in making a move? Make it Tasmania.