Beyond Politics

There is life beyond politics and political science and I try, with varying degrees of success, to maintain a healthy work-life balance. This page is a bit of a work in progress but is designed to sketch some of my interests beyond work

Tasmania

I’m a native Tasmanian and despite spending a good deal of my adult life outside my home state, I have always maintained a strong connection with my island home. Being a keen climber and runner, Tasmania’s mountains and wilderness areas have always been very close to my heart, but the attraction also extends to the provincial scale and culture of the island. My wife (Claire) and I were always hoping to be able to raise our three boys (Sam, Nicholas and Benjamin) in Tasmania given the lifestyle it offers. Beyond this appeal, I’m also determined to make a modest contribution to establishing a more self-assured and prosperous Tasmania. For over 150 years Australia’s island state has lagged behind the rest of the nation by most social and economic measures. While Tasmania is now embracing a more progressive and cosmopolitan politics and world view, which gives cause for cautious optimism, I would like to think that I can play a small part in this transformation through a combination of committed teaching and thoughtful analysis of policy issues facing the state.

Family

Claire and I are very lucky to have three lovely little boys: Sam, Nicholas and Benjamin (now 5 and 4 and 6 months). Watching them grow fills me with wonder and joy although they also keep us on our toes! Our household is rounded out by our much-loved border collie (and my running companion), Bess. Beyond our immediate family we are lucky that Sam, Nicholas and Benjamin have a set of grandparents as well as numerous cousins within walking distance.

Sam and Nicholas

Bess

Coles Bay and Freycinet Peninsula

Coles Bay is an idyllic holiday township nestling under the red granite peaks of Freycinet National Park mid-way up Tasmania’s East Coast. Both Claire and I have a strong attachment to the area having spent long summers there as children with our respective families and having dived, climbed and sailed there as university students. Naturally, now that we live in Tasmania, we’re keen for our children to experience all that Coles Bay and Freycinet National Park have to offer. Fortunately my London-based sister has recently bought an authentic beach house at “The Fisheries” in the heart of the National Park.  I’m sure that this will be the focus of many a family holiday to come.

The Fisheries shack
The Fisheries beach

Climbing and Skiing

I have always liked the outdoors and from early on this has manifested itself through a strong interest in bushwalking and, by my mid-teens, in climbing and backcountry skiing. In fact I spent most of my late-teens and early 20s climbing and telemark skiing in Australia and New Zealand. Perhaps my most memorable experiences were climbing some of Tasmania’s alpine rock routes including the east face of Frenchman’s Cap (The Lorax), the east face of Mt Geryon (Orion) and the North Face Route on Federation Peak. While I no longer have the time to climb or ski as much as I would like, I do still enjoy spending the occasional summers day on Mt Wellington’s Organ Pipes with friends (such as Tim Chappell whose photos are below).

For a good web-guide to Tasmanian climbing:
http://www.thesarvo.com/confluence/display/thesarvo/Tasmania

Skiing, Mt Field

Skiing, Mt Field

Ski Touring, Tasman Saddle NZ

Ski Touring, Tasman Saddle NZ

Australia’s most impressive piece of rock architecture – The East Face of Frenchmans Cap

Australia’s most impressive piece of rock architecture – The East Face of Frenchmans Cap

Federation Peak

Federation Peak

Climbing on the Organ Pipes, Mt Wellington

Climbing on the Organ Pipes, Mt Wellington

Blue Merdian, The Organ Pipes

Blue Merdian, The Organ Pipes

Running and Adventure Racing

I have always been a reasonable long distance runner and road cyclist, but in the mid-1990s this interest morphed into a serious focus on competitive mountain running and adventure racing. While never a good paddler, I enjoyed local races such as the Cradle to Coast Ultra Challenge (a three day 360km running-cycling-canoeing race from Cradle Mountain to Hobart) and the Tasmanian Winter Challenge. In 1997 I teamed up with three others to compete in the 7 day non-stop Discovery Channel Eco Challenge. Beyond the challenge of competition I still love to run regularly in the mountains and being hyperactive, it’s one of the few ways I know to relax!

Sailing and Three Peaks

In 1997 I made an accidental transition from mountain running to yacht racing. The Tasmanian Three Peaks is an event held every Easter around Tasmania’s East Coast and involves 300 nautical miles of ocean racing and 130 km of mountain running. In short, it’s quite mad!. Nonetheless I fell in love with both the event and the adventure of ocean racing and have competed in eight Three Peaks races in recent years. Having said that, the running legs are quite brutal (one is 65 km!) and I’m always on the verge of retiring from Three Peaks running. Now that I have a bit of salt in my blood I plan to buy a yacht at some stage in the distant future.

Three Peaks Website: www.threepeaks.org.au

Our boat (owned and skippered by Jeff Cordell) leading the 2008 Three Peaks Race

Our boat (owned and skippered by Jeff Cordell) leading the 2008 Three Peaks Race

Music and Beyond

At a more sedate level I’ve got a enduring interest in music and jazz in particular. I still love Miles Davis classics such as Kind of Blue as well as Dave Brubeck, John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins. Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette  represent  the definitive trio and many of their standards define perfection. In terms of contemporary releases, I’m a huge fan of the Berlin-based label ECM and have been listening to the Brad Mehldau Trio and Thomas Stanko of late. Part of our weekend ritual is listening to ABC Classic FM’s  Jazz track on Saturday and Sunday evenings. Also on the home front, I’m a keen gardener and our boys have hours of fun digging in our vegetable garden (complete with panoramic views over the Derwent river).

ECM Records Website: http://www.ecmrecords.com/Startseite/startseite.php

ABC Classic FM Jazz Track Website: http://www.abc.net.au/classic/jazztrack/

Sam gardening