Tasmania’s Stories

Thoughtful fun at Mona Foma

Edition 180_New Year's Eve fireworks at the Taste of Tasmania

Australia’s weirdest summer festival, Mona Foma, lived up to its reputation for unexpected and challenging content during an amped-up January party season.

Visitation records were smashed in Hobart and more than 3,500 people flooded through MONA on a single day before Mofo even got started.

“Hobart is full. The challenge is where to put everybody,” tourism industry spokesperson, Luke Martin, said. “We can’t get any more people into the city for December and January. And the east coast is the same."

More than 11,500 people attended Mofo events, 35 per cent of them from outside Tasmania.

Curator Brian Ritchie told The Mercury: "The artists continue to be ecstatic about the festival, the response from the public is great and as organisers we're happy. That's a success as far as we're concerned."

Shaun Prescott wrote on The Guardian website: "With stunning mountain vistas and not a Dagwood Dog in sight, there’s plenty of reason to smile at Mofo but the line-up seemed structured to pose the more sombre question: what comes next?

"It’s a dour subject for a music festival hosted in a rich man’s winery, but perhaps it’s what we deserve."

Ritchie said: “We provide an experience at Mona Foma that you can’t get at any other music festival.

“We have full confidence in what we’re presenting to the public.

“And we think it’s entertaining; even if it might be considered challenging."

The Guardian went on: "It’s the most utopian large-scale festival in Australia: there’s no trash on the grass, everyone reuses their stainless steel cups, water is abundant and free and modern art replaces billboards ...

"The festival attracts a crowd of young and old alike and I didn’t see anyone spew on themselves the entire weekend. You’re in Walsh’s backyard after all. You have to be nice."

But the website argued that the prominence given this year to so-called primitive electronics, especially the analogue synthesiser, imbued the event with a sad awareness of unrealised dreams.

"You can’t help but recall a period when these instruments evoked a strange yet exciting vision of the future," Prescott wrote.

"These sounds don’t evoke dreams of the future so much [now] as they do a nostalgia for having once dreamed of a utopia at all. In that light, they become numbing, melancholic."

Mofo offered a lot more, of course, as the fun and social introspection were well mixed and concentrated more than in previous years on the MONA estate at Berriedale.

Elsewhere, the party season proceeded through weather eccentricities and isolated, but serious lapses in behaviour.

Hobart's waterfront, Falls, Southbank or City Park, Mersey Bluff and Glenorchy were among the hot spots for New Year’s Eve celebrations.

The Taste attracted a capacity crowd of about 5,000 who were entertained by songstress Kate Ceberano.

Hundreds of children danced to disco music at The Taste’s Kids in the Park NYE disco.

Police said crowds were generally well-behaved, but their night had been made more difficult by having to check out numerous distress flares set off from boats on the River Derwent.

A waterfront gig lit up GASP’s Wilkinsons Point Pavilion in Glenorchy where Finnish artist Petri Saarikko and jazz pianist Chris Abrahams provided the entertainment.

Tasmania wasn't forgotten as the wider world celebrated.

Images of wallabies, echidnas and a Tasmanian devil from Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary were beamed on to Sydney's Harbour Bridge pylons to an audience of millions during that city's New Year celebrations.

The Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra rung in the New Year in Nanjing, China, with a joint performance with the local Jiangsu Arts Group Symphony Orchestra that involved 105 musicians.

About 10,000 music lovers travelled to Marion Bay to enjoy more than 70 live music acts as well as a bush tucker tour by tourism group NinaNina.

Despite the city being booked out, the Taste of Tasmania festival reported lower attendance rates than a year ago, partly because of adverse weather on the opening day and on New Year's Day.

There were 69 stalls at the Taste, 35 of them selling alcohol and 36 selling food. Two sold both.

Final attendance numbers are predicted to be 207,000 over seven days — down from 253,185 in 2014-15.

Dissident aldermen said it was time for the council to consider establishing a professional board to run the Taste, or to put the event out to tender.

The 35th Cygnet Folk Festival featured 440 ethno-folk artists from around the world and trebled the southern town's population of 1,500.

Ticket sales records were set and Cygnet pulsed to the beats of street musicians, bands, full-blown concerts and musical master classes.

Food trucks played an increased role in festivities in and around Hobart.

They are established as the centrepiece of Street Eats@Franko – a new Friday night market in Franklin Square – and owners have their own Food Truck Market in the newly named Red Square in Macquarie Point.

Fifteen truck and trailer kitchens complement the Hobart Brewing Company's Red Shed activities, to the delight of many visitors, as well as locals.

The fun has continued this month with the Australian Wooden Boats Festival in Hobart, Festivale in Launceston and Party in the Paddock at Burns Creek.

Upcoming events include:

Footnote: Nine collector stamps for tourists were produced by Kaye Green, the Tiger Trail stamp maker, for the Australian Wooden Boats Festival. Ms Green launched the Japanese-style stamps last year. She started with 30 stamp blocks that tourists could find during a Tasmanian visit and the variations now exceed 150. Ms Green has received feedback from travelling parents thanking her for keeping their children entertained during long drives. Some visitors are building their itineraries based on a preference for places where stamp impressions can be acquired, Ms Green told The Mercury. A seafood cooking master class at the festival, featuring Brand Tasmania Ambassador, Tetsuya Wakuda, and Rodney Dunn from the Agrarian Kitchen, sold out.

Image courtesy of the Hobart City Council

8 February 2017, Edition 180

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Facts about Tasmania


Tasmania is the southernmost state of Australia, located at latitude 40° south and longitude 144° east and separated from the continent by Bass Strait. It is a group of 334 islands, with the main island being 315 km (180 miles) from west to east and 286 km (175 miles) north to south.


Tasmanians are resourceful and innovative people, committed to a continually expanding export sector. In 2012-13, international exports from the state totalled $3.04 billion. USA, China, Taiwan, India, Japan and other Asian countries account for the bulk of exports, with goods and services also exported to Europe and many other regions.


Tasmania is similar in size to the Republic of Ireland or Sri Lanka. The Tasmanian islands have a combined coastline of more than 3,000 km.


The main island has a land area of 62,409 sq km (24,096 sq miles) and the minor islands, taken together, total only 6 per cent of the main island's land area. The biggest islands are Flinders (1,374 sq km/539 sq miles), King, Cape Barren, Bruny and Macquarie Islands.


About 250km (150 miles) separates Tasmania’s main island from continental Australia. The Kent Group of Islands, one of the most northerly parts of the state, is only 55km (34 miles) from the coast of the Australian continent.


Twice named 'Best Temperate Island in the World' by international travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler, Tasmania has a mild, temperate maritime climate, with four distinct seasons.


In summer (December to February) the average maximum temperature is 21° Celsius (70° Fahrenheit). In winter (June to August) the average maximum is 12° C (52° F) and the average minimum is 4° C (40° F). Snow often falls in the highlands, but is rarely experienced in more settled areas.

Annual Rainfall

Tasmania’s west coast is one of the wettest places in the world, but the eastern part of the State lives in a rain-shadow. Hobart, the second-driest capital city in Australia, receives about half as much rain as Sydney.

Annual Rainfall

Annual rainfall in the west is 2,400 mm (95 inches), but hardy locals insist there is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing. If you travel 120 km east to Hobart, you experience a much drier average of 626 mm (24 inches) a year.


The 512,875-strong community spreads itself across the land; less urbanised than the population of any other Australian state. Hobart, the capital city, is home to more than 212,000 people.

Capital City

Hobart nestles at the foot of Mt Wellington (1,270 m / 4,000 ft) and overlooks the Derwent Estuary, where pods of dolphins and migrating whales are sometimes seen from nearby beaches. Surrounded by thickly forested rolling hills, the city is home to the state parliament and the main campus of the University of Tasmania.

Capital City

Its historic centre features Georgian and Regency buildings from colonial times. Hobart is home port for coastal fishing boats, Antarctic expeditions and vessels that fish the Southern Ocean.

Land Formation

Mountain ranges in the south-west date back 1,000 million years. Ancient sediments were deeply buried, folded and heated under enormous pressure to form schists and glistening white quartzites.

Land Formation

In the south-west and central highlands, dolerite caps many mountains, including Precipitous Bluff and Tasmania's highest peak, Mt Ossa (1617 m / 5300 ft). More than 42 per cent of Tasmania is World Heritage Area, national park and marine or forest reserves.


Vegetation is diverse, from alpine heathlands and tall open eucalypt forests to areas of temperate rainforests and moorlands, known as buttongrass plains. Many plants are unique to Tasmania and the ancestors of some species grew on the ancient super-continent, Gondwana, before it broke up 50 million years ago.


Unique native conifers include slow-growing Huon pines, with one specimen on Mt Read estimated to be up to 10,000 years old. Lomatia tasmanica, commonly known as King's holly, is a self-cloning shrub that may well be the oldest living organism on earth. It was discovered in 1937.


Tasmania is the last refuge of several mammals that once roamed the Australian continent. It is the only place to see a Tasmanian devil or eastern quoll (native cat) in the wild and is the best place to see the spotted-tailed quoll (tiger cat), all carnivorous marsupials.


The eastern bettong and the Tasmanian pademelon, both now extinct on the Australian continent, may also be observed.


The Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, was Australia's largest surviving carnivorous marsupial and is a modern day mystery. The last documented thylacine died in captivity in 1936 and although the animal is considered extinct, unsubstantiated sightings persist.

History and Heritage

Aboriginal people have lived in Tasmania for about 35,000 years, since well before the last Ice Age. They were isolated from the Australian continent about 12,000 years ago, when the seas rose to flood low coastal plains and form Bass Strait.

History and Heritage

Descendants of the original people are part of modern Tasmania's predominantly Anglo-Celtic population.

History and Heritage

Tasmania was originally named Van Dieman’s Land by the Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman in 1642. The island was settled by the British as a penal colony in 1803 and the original name was associated with the convict era. It was changed to Tasmania when convict transportation stopped in 1853.


A resourceful island culture has generated leading-edge niche industries, from production of high-speed catamaran ferries and marine equipment to lightning-protection technology.


Tasmanians produce winches and windlasses for some of the world's biggest ocean-going pleasure craft; large-scale inflatable evacuation systems and provide specialist outfit-accommodation services to the marine industry.


The Wooden Boat Centre at Shipwrights Point has re-established the skills and traditions of another age and attracts students from around the world.


Tasmania is a world leader in natural turf systems for major sporting arenas and in areas of mining technology and environmental management. Its aquaculture industry has developed ground-breaking fish-feeding technology and new packaging.


Tasmanians sell communications equipment to many navies and their world-class fine timber designers and craftsmen take orders internationally for furniture made from distinctive local timber.


The state is a natural larder with clean air, unpolluted water and rich soils inviting the production of 100 varieties of specialty cheeses, as well as other dairy products, mouth-watering rock lobsters, oysters, scallops and abalone, Atlantic salmon, beef, premium beers, leatherwood honey, mineral waters, fine chocolates, fresh berry fruits, apples and crisp vegetables.


Tasmania is a producer of award-winning cool-climate wines, beers, ciders and whiskies. Other export products include essential oils such as lavender, pharmaceutical products and premium wool sought after in Europe and Asia. Hobart is a vital gateway to the Antarctic and a centre for Southern Ocean and polar research.


The industries in Tasmania which made the greatest contribution to the state's gross product in 2010-11 in volume terms were: Manufacturing (9.4%), Health care and social assistance (8.2%), Financial and insurance services (7.2%), Ownership of dwellings and Agriculture, forestry and fishing (each 7.1%).

Getting to Tasmania

Travel is easy, whether by air from Sydney or Melbourne, or by sea, with daily sailings of the twin ferries Spirit of Tasmania 1 and 2 each way between Melbourne and Devonport throughout the year.

This site has been produced by the Brand Tasmania Council © 2014

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