Long road home
Kim and Andrew set off from Manly in search of freedom, what they found was a love of the Launceston lifestyle.
In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, Kim and Andrew Napier grew increasingly stir crazy in their petite Manly apartment. With arrangements with their companies to work remotely, the couple took off in their van. Destination: the outback. With every intention to return to Sydney’s northern beaches, little did they know the road trip would land them off-course in Kim’s birthplace of Launceston.
In early October, 2020, the Napier’s cruised out of Manly. Their loose plans began by heading west for the outback. Dodging border closures, their path weaved through forgotten country towns and into South Australia and Victoria.
Wherever they could hook into 4G, Kim busily worked away as Senior Producer and Co-Host of the World Nomads Travel Podcast, recording regular episodes for the travel insurance company. Meanwhile, Andrew was the Head of Learning Services at Open Learning Global, working in partnership with UNSW Global to deliver the UNSW Transition Program online.
“We were planning our return to the northern beaches in January when it was sent into lockdown,” explains Kim. “We were sitting at a table swatting flies in Broken Hill, wondering where on earth we should go. The lease on our Launceston property had just expired so we decided we’d take off to my home state for a short stint of landscaping. Turns out, we haven’t left since!”
Kim was born and raised in Launceston before heading south for a high-profile radio career in Hobart, spanning more than two decades. Fast forward to 2014, she fell in love with South Australian Andrew, relocating to Adelaide in 2014 and later to Sydney in 2017.
Upon returning to Tasmania this year, Kim became one of the many casualties of Covid-19’s impact on the travel industry. She was made redundant. True to the uncertainty of the times, concurrently Andrew was promoted to Program Manager delivering the UNSW Transition Program to international students and managing staff spread out across the country
“I was expected to return to the Sydney office but fell in love with the Tassie lifestyle,” explains Andrew. “My boss was great and told me to stay as long as I want. I’m now running the UNSW Transition Program Online for international students who want to enhance their opportunity to gain an offer for G8 universities in Australia. I have teachers across the country and have even recruited two new team members from UTAS in Hobart.”
Though Kim never imagined that she’d return to Launceston, the creative talent is delighted to be home. After years interstate, she sees her hometown through fresh eyes and appreciates new additions to the cityscape. She’s also hatching new audio-focussed ideas and working on her side hustle, Branded Podcasts.
“It reminds me of a mini-Melbourne with its cute bars, coffee shops, and cool restaurants all housed in stunning heritage buildings. In between landscaping, we jump in the van and explore the state, most of which I have seen but it’s great showing off my island home to my husband.”
As Kim gets reacquainted with Launceston, she’s now considering a hyper-local podcast. Kim sees potential in not just telling the stories behind great little bars, but featuring the characters that live in Launceston, the history of buildings and family names that date back to the 1940s. Having left at the age of 19, she’s since discovered the likes of old stables off St. John Street and an 1800s souvenir shop sign off George Street.
“I have just fallen in love with Tasmania all over again. There is so much happening here. When we were exploring the west coast, we stopped at Philosopher Falls. It just blew us away. We saw a team filming a fungi documentary and another crew recording time-lapse for a David Attenborough production. We’ve come across such gems – like the Trowutta Arch in the Tarkine and Black Space Creative in Burnie, showcasing the work of indigenous artists.”
The couple have also explored Corinna, camping by the Pieman River with not a breath of wind. They ventured upstream to waterfalls that can only be accessed by boat. It’s a long way from Sydney, where Andrew felt the pull of Tasmania on a recent work trip while sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
“Launceston is an awesome town to live, we love it,” says Andrew. “I basically exercise in the countryside amongst cows and ducks along the Tamar, then head into my stand-up desk in the spare room to connect in to Sydney. I spend my life in a Zoom meeting, but at least my commute is never impacted by traffic conditions, unless Kim and I are heading in two different directions up the hallway! We wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Are you interested in making a move? Make it Tasmania.
For information on starting a business in Tasmania look through our stories or visit Business Tasmania.