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Learn in Tasmania stories

The following stories relate to studying in Tasmania

Devils at home in San Diego

Two Tasmanian devils are winning hearts in San Diego, USA, where they are now happily settled into their new home at the city’s famous zoo. A “laid-back” male – named McLovin – and a “shy” female – named Quirindi (pronounced Kwa-ren-dee) – are now receiving visitors and drawing great interest. The Tasmanian ambassadors are also shining a light on the fight to save our devils. McLovin and Quirindi arrived from Taronga Western Plains Zoo late last year, and recently relocated to San Diego Zoo’s ‘Australian Outback’ exhibit after completing mandatory quarantine. San Diego is currently one of the few zoos in the U.S. with Tasmanian devils. A zoo statement described these newest additions as “extremely significant,” and part of a partnership program between San Diego and Taronga Zoos, designed to, “inspire needed support for Tasmanian devil conservation.” Tasmanian devils face the threat of extinction in the wild due to the deadly facial tumour disease which kills infected animals within six to 12 months: “The disease is incredibly rare and is one of few contagious cancers in the world. The good thing about that is, it attracts a lot of scientific attention. San Diego Zoo supports research that’s being done on the disease, so there’s still a lot of hope for the devils.”

11 April 2018, Edition 193

Handfish find delights IMAS

A new population of red handfish, one of the world's rarest species, has been found in Frederick Henry Bay in south-eastern Tasmania. It was thought the species had dwindled to about 20 individuals in a single location, but a tip-off from a local diver led a group from UTAS's Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS) to explore another part of the bay. Two hours into their dive, the group was about to give up when Antonia Collins spotted a tiny fish among some seaweed. "Once we found that initial fish we were able to focus our search area, and quite quickly we discovered another seven fish in close proximity to that first one, so it was very exciting," she said. It is believed that about 20 of the bottom-dwelling fish, that use their fins as hands to crawl along the seabed, are living in an area no bigger than two tennis courts. They grow to just 7cm-9cm long, living and laying eggs at the base of seaweed in shallow water. The species was first discovered near Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula in the 1800s, but the only known surviving populations are in two undisclosed locations on the opposite side of the peninsula. The red handfish is even rarer than the River Derwent's spotted handfish whose endangered status has inspired a successful IMAS captive breeding program.

8 March 2018, Edition 192

Campbell, 13, is CNN hero

Edition 191_Remess

Tasmanian 13-year-old Campbell Remess flew to the United States in January as the only non-American in a CNN television program about extraordinary young people who have made a difference in their communities. For several years Campbell has been creating home-made teddy bears to comfort children in hospitals. His Project 365 by Campbell has earned social media acclaim around the world. CNN sent a team to Campbell's Hobart home before the New York-based program. It reported: "Campbell Remess (Australia) ... spreads kindness and comfort to hurting kids. He creates and delivers custom-made teddy bears for children battling illnesses around the world." Mum Sonya Whittaker said being in contact with people going through hard times could be difficult. "It's interesting to ask Campbell how he's feeling after he's been to something that's really shocking," Ms Whittaker told ABC Radio. "After we leave my first question is always, 'how are you feeling dude?' His answer is pretty much always the same." Campbell assures his mum he is happy to have made a difference.

Image courtesy of the ABC.

8 February 2018, Edition 191

Devil of a show at TMAG

The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) is using three galleries for an exhibition exploring the ecology and biology of the beleaguered Tasmanian devil, along with changes over time in the public perception of the largest surviving marsupial carnivore. The Remarkable Tasmanian Devil exhibition took two years to assemble and will continue until 6 May. Senior Curator, Kathryn Medlock, said "The history of the animal is quite interesting because it really was perceived as being a pest, a threat to livelihoods and agriculture, fierce and nasty. Over time that's changed. I'm really hoping the public will gain a new respect of this animal and broaden their perspective on why it is such a remarkable species that has overcome the odds." Wildlife biologist and TMAG Honorary Curator, Nick Mooney, said it was important that a new attitude towards devils was consolidated in light of their survival struggle against Devil Facial Tumour Disease. "Now that they've had a brush with extinction and they're very rare, people are more interested," he said. An educational program has been created alongside the exhibition and school programs are planned.

8 February 2018, Edition 191

Fucoidans pass US cancer test

Seaweed extracts developed in Tasmania have been found by researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston to boost the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs. The extracts, known as fucoidans, are produced by Cambridge-based biotech business Marinova from seaweed varieties found in local waters. The extracts were found to decrease the growth of a human ovarian cancer tumour line by up to 33 per cent and a human cervical cancer tumour line by up to 70 per cent. The researchers also found that fucoidans considerably improved the efficacy of the chemotherapy drug Tamoxifen in treating breast cancer and decreased breast cancer tumour growth by up to an additional 26 per cent. Director of the Women’s Health Integrative Medicine Research Program in Houston, Dr Judith A. Smith, said: “This was the first research program to comprehensively assess the metabolism of fucoidan compounds for possible chemotherapy drug interactions. A ... study is now underway at UTHealth to further assess safety and observe quality of life parameters in human cancer patients.”

8 February 2018, Edition 191

Tasmanians prefer the seaside

Tasmanians are more than twice as likely than other Australians to holiday near the coast or on an island, according to a national poll commissioned by Tourism and Transport Forum Australia. Of the Tasmanians surveyed by Nielsen, 75 per cent said the main type of location they were planning to stay at during the summer break was near the coast or on an island, compared with 31 per cent nationally. Popular Tasmanian holiday destination, Bruny Island, was busy again over the 2017-18 holidays. Bruny Island Escapes, which operates Hotel Bruny and about 15 other accommodation properties, was totally booked out. Spokesperson Charlotte Boss-Walker said guests included a “good mixture” of local, interstate and overseas visitors. The Nielsen research also showed that 25 per cent of Tasmanians would spend the summer break in a regional town. The top day-trip activities were shopping and visiting friends and relatives. Thirty-six per cent said they would go out to cafes or restaurants, 21 per cent said they would go to the beach or a local swimming pool, a further 21 per cent said they would go on a scenic drive, and 7 per cent said they would go to a sporting event.

8 February 2018, Edition 191

Living fossils found in WHA

Scientists have discovered rare, living stromatolites among peat-bound karstic wetlands in a remote Tasmanian Valley — the first living stromatolites found in the State. Stromatolites are laminated structures built by micro-organisms which create layers of minerals using elements dissolved in the water in which they live. Fossil stromatolites are the oldest evidence of life on Earth, first appearing 3.7 billion years ago. The West Australian coast boasts some of the world's best-preserved fossil stromatolites, but living examples are especially rare because competing species, like sea snails, have evolved and can consume the micro-organisms that form stromatolites. Unique wetlands in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area contain spring mounds from which highly mineralized water flows, soaking the surrounding peat-rich soil. UTAS researcher Bernadette Proemse said: “This is good for stromatolites ... these Tasmanian ‘living fossils’ are protected by the World Heritage Area and the sheer remoteness of the spring mounds.” Researchers described their discovery in a paper published in the journal, Nature.

8 February 2018, Edition 191

Academy honours two locals

Two University of Tasmania scientists have received prestigious career honorific awards from the Australian Academy of Science in recognition of their lifelong achievements. UTAS Professor David Cooke (ARC Centre of Excellence in Ore Deposits) won the 2018 Haddon Forrester King Medal and Lecture, while his colleague, Professor Matt King (School of Land and Food), was awarded the 2018 Mawson Medal and Lecture. Professor Cooke's investigations into the geological processes that produce copper-gold deposits, as a result of fluids released from magma deep within the Earth's crust, have transformed geochemical exploration techniques around the world. Professor King's work has helped reveal the dynamic nature of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica and how they contribute to sea-level change. Nationally, 18 academics were honoured and most of them will be presented with their awards at the academy’s annual signature science event, Science at the Shine Dome, on 24 May in Canberra. In a further tribute to UTAS, three senior staff have been named in this year's Clarivate Analytics' Highly Cited Researchers list, ranking them in the top 1 per cent in their subject fields globally. They are Professor Reg Watson (Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies); Associate Professor Tim Brodribb (Faculty of Science, Engineering and Technology) and Professor Sergey Shabala (Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture).

8 February 2018, Edition 191

Wilderness weeders win award

Volunteers in a 10-year weeding program in Tasmania’s remote south-west coast have been recognised with a Froggatt Award, named in honour of Australian entomologist Walter Froggatt who was a lone voice against the introduction of cane toads in the 1930s. Tasmania’s Sea Spurge Remote Area Teams won their award for a decade of successful work eradicating sea spurge from the wild and beautiful coastline. The 150 volunteers were dropped in by helicopter, boat or fixed-wing aircraft and spent between eight days and three weeks removing pest plant species. They supplied their own gear and relied on food drops, working without pay to remove 14.2 million sea spurge plants from 600km of coastline. As a result, 99.5 per cent of the treated area is sea spurge free. Areas have also been cleared of marram grass and two of the region’s only blackberry infestations. The volunteers contributed a total of 6,000 hours and their work has been valued at over $1.4 million.

5 December 2017, Edition 190

Shell documentary goes global

A Tasmanian-made documentary about the ancient art of Aboriginal shell stringing, kanalaritja: An Unbroken String, has been selected to play at four film festivals around the world. Co-funded by Screen Tasmania and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG), and based on an award-winning TMAG exhibition of the same name, the Roar Film documentary has received invitations to the Red Nation Film Festival and the Tribal Film Festival in the United States, to the Barcelona Planet Film Festival in Spain and the Eurasia Film Festival in Russia. The TMAG exhibition on which the film was based won the Australian and New Zealand Museum and Galleries Award for Best Indigenous Project.

5 December 2017, Edition 190

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Facts about Tasmania

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.

Tasmania

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.

Geography

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.

Geography

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.

Geography

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.

Climate

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.

Climate

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.

Population

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 kunanyi / Mount 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.

Flora

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.

Flora

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.

Fauna

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.

Fauna

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

Fauna

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.

Economy

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

Economy

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.

Economy

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

Economy

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.

Economy

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.

Economy

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.

Economy

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.

Economy

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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