Tasmania’s Stories

MACq 01 engages Master Storyteller

Edition 182_Justin Johnstone

Tasmania's first fulltime professional Master Storyteller has signed on to enliven the nation's first deliberately planned story-telling hotel, MACq 01 on the Hobart waterfront.

Justin Johnstone has a background in theatre, heritage and tourism, as well as a passion for history and all things Tasmanian.

Mr Johnstone was born interstate into a family with a Tasmanian connection stretching back to the 1850s.

After visits to the State over 20 years ago, he won a competition run last year by Tourism Tasmania to be its Chief Wombat Cuddler.

Mr Johnstone subsequently had little trouble convincing the HR people at the Federal Group's MACq 01 that he has a natural affinity for Tasmanians and their stories.

“Be they colourful and quirky or hearty and resilient, the stories of Tasmanian people are stories of people forged in adversity, tempered by toil and honed by achievement,” he said.

“From the first peoples and traditional owners to the convicts and free settlers; the fearless souls who pushed their way into the wild interior, Tasmania produces and attracts remarkable individuals.”

Mr Johnstone will lead a team of four full‐time story tellers, who are eager to share Tasmania’s stories with visitors to MACq 01.

Inspired by tales from its immediate locality of hangings, survival, love, whaling, shipwrecks and other disasters, the story-telling hotel will use Tasmanian characters as its point of difference.

Mr Johnstone and his team can't wait to begin escorting guests on tours of the hotel and around the surrounding waterfront to connect them with local history and the characters who shaped it.

The guides will have tales ready about gentlemanly rogues, unstoppable explorers, ferocious independence fighters, pioneering politicians, a fearsome female tinker, several ingenious inventors and many other colourful islanders.

The Federal Group's Chief Executive, Greg Farrell, said: “When you approach the door [of your room at MACq 01] there will be a face looking back at you with a small sentence about that person’s life."

A book containing the person's story will be waiting in the room and the decor of the room will be tailored to reflect the person's character.

“There will be on-staff story tellers whose job it is to mingle with guests and take them to their rooms,” Mr Farrell said.

Built by Vos Construction, MACq 01 has had probably the best pre-opening publicity since Lonely Planet waxed lyrical about the unfinished Three Cape Walk in 2014.

Britain’s Independent has declared MACq 01 one of the hottest hotels opening worldwide this year.

“The innovatively designed Saffire Freycinet caused a stir when it opened in Tasmania in 2010, and so it’s exciting to know it has a sister property launching in June on the waterfront of the State capital,” the Independent reported.

“A high-end hotel on Macquarie Wharf in the heart of Hobart, a ferry ride from MONA (the Museum of Old and New Art), MACq 01 will tell the story of Tasmania’s history through its 114 rooms, which each reference a local character from its first people, inventors and explorers to convicts and heroes.”

Fitout contractor Pike Withers is working on the interiors of the hotel.

Guest rooms will be large and 65 per cent will have harbour views. The warehouse-like external design will accommodate an Old Wharf Restaurant, a Story Bar and a lobby/lounge with echoes of an ancient Tasmanian camp site.

The former Head Chef at Saffire, Simon Pockran, will be in charge of the Old Wharf Restaurant.

Pockran's predecessor at Saffire, Hugh Whitehouse, is now the group's Executive Food & Beverage Manager and will also be influential in the evolution of the seafood-focussed restaurant.

The MACq 01 building will also host two well-liked Tasmanian eateries: Cinnamon, Launceston's Thai-style operation, and the Coal River Valley favourite, Frogmore Creek.

The hotel is set to be Tasmania's most studied tourism venture, following a partnership agreement between the Federal Group and UTAS.

A PhD student will be embedded in the hotel in a project designed to increase understanding of local tourism offerings and visitor responses.

UTAS's Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research), Professor Brigid Heywood, said “[UTAS] is well renowned for conducting research with real-world applications, and our island state is the perfect place to explore a new tourism offering such as MACq 01.”

Jobs at the hotel have been advertised across a range of fields including guest services, butlers, porters, hotel maitre d', bar supervisor, food and beverage team leader and housekeeping.

Speaking to the media in March about the Federal Group's plans for a luxury resort at Cradle Mountain, Mr Farrell spelled out a strategy to create "critical mass" by adding high-end accommodation there and at Port Arthur to the group's Hobart hotels and the brilliantly successful Saffire Freycinet.

"Once we have completed all of these developments, Tasmania will rival New Zealand as a luxury destination and have the high-end products to compete with any luxury destination in the world," Mr Farrell said.

He said the group's expanding stable of boutique hotels would each conform to the values of the Tasmanian brand.

“Even more than that, we believe we have to do what we can to aid the brand, not use the brand,” Mr Farrell said.

The Cradle Mountain retreat will be built on 40ha of land — mainly high-country native bush — adjoining the Wilderness World Heritage area.

The Federal Group has owned the land since 2004 and intends to minimise the retreat's building footprint while maximising its view-lines to Cradle Mountain.

Construction will follow completion of its $25 million "sister property" at Port Arthur.

The group is working on a design for the Comfort Inn motel site at Port Arthur and expects to lodge a development application soon.

Publicity about the Cradle Mountain project followed the Federal Government's release of funding for a preliminary study into a bold $164 million proposal to revitalise visitor infrastructure in the area.

Tasmania has become quite a hot spot for investors with recent Foreign Investment Review Board data showing a jump in approvals from $30 million to $1.06 billion.

That total was calculated before announcements that Australasia’s first Hyatt Centric hotel would be located in the Elizabeth Street Mall, the Marriott chain would run a hotel in the Parliament Square redevelopment and Melbourne eco-building specialist, Small Giants Developments, was planning a six-storey apartment block in Bathurst Street.

 Image courtesy of MACq 01

4 April 2017, Edition 182

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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

Brand Tasmania

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